Why You NEED To Rest Between Sets

You may think that jogging in place or somehow keeping your heart rate up between exercises can be a good way to sneak in some extra calorie burn, but according to fitness professionals, you may actually be cutting yourself short on the benefits of the actual exercises: If you want to improve your muscular fitness or boost your muscular endurance, Pete McCall, science officer for the Institute of Motion in San Diego, CA recommends:

"When lifting heavy weights--such that you're performing 10 reps or less--proper rest and recovery is essential for the activation of muscle fibers, which ultimately leads to the hormone response that's responsible for muscle growth."

Someone who also knows a thing or two about increasing their endurance is Benita Willis, the 2004 Australian world cross country champion and three-time national champion in the women's 5,000 meters, who said:

"Typically, no matter what distance you are training for, you use short rest to keep quality up in a workout... In addition, short rests can be utilized to break up a tempo workout and allow an athlete to run a fair amount of volume yet maintain intensity."

Breaks are even more important when doing compound exercises (which focus on multiple muscle groups) due to the extra work load the body endures when synchronizing the proper muscles. These movements not only require more focus on proper form, but they also take longer to recover from between sets.

During a Poise class, we suggest taking:

Endurance Focus:

Take one break for 5-10 second in the middle of the set (after about 25-30 seconds of work)

Muscular Definition Focus:

Take a break for 5-10 seconds every 15 seconds (or 6-8 reps) until minute is done

The rest between sets is an integral and often overlooked factor to the success of any strength training program. Keep in mind that for balanced results it's important to balance your approach as well. Utilize both of the above methods depending on the day.

When in doubt, listen and trust what your body is telling you and adjust your rest time accordingly. Not every workout needs to be your best, but you'll be your best if you make every workout.

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