Sussex Performance Centre

How Much Rest Do You Really Need Between Exercise Workouts?

Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or just starting on your wellness journey, the question of how much rest to incorporate between workout sessions is crucial. Striking the right balance can impact your progress, recovery, and overall well-being. In this blog post, we’ll explore the science behind rest intervals, consider individual factors, and provide actionable insights for optimizing your workout routine.

Understanding Rest Intervals:

Rest intervals play a pivotal role in achieving fitness goals, influencing factors such as muscle recovery, strength gains, and injury prevention. The optimal rest time can vary based on the type of exercise, fitness level, and individual factors.

  1. Strength Training:
    • For strength and power-focused workouts, research suggests resting for approximately 2 to 3 minutes between sets. This duration allows for adequate recovery of the neuromuscular system, promoting optimal performance in subsequent sets1.
  2. Hypertrophy (Muscle Building):
    • If your goal is muscle hypertrophy, shorter rest intervals of around 60 to 90 seconds between sets may be more effective. This promotes metabolic stress, a key driver of muscle growth2.
  3. Cardiovascular Exercise:
    • Cardio workouts often involve continuous activity, but high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may incorporate rest intervals. HIIT sessions typically involve 30 seconds to 2 minutes of rest between intense bursts of exercise3.

Individual Factors:

While general guidelines exist, individual factors should also be considered:

  1. Fitness Level:
    • Beginners may require longer rest periods to recover, while seasoned athletes might adapt to shorter intervals due to improved conditioning.
  2. Age:
    • Aging can affect recovery rates. Older individuals may need more time between workouts to allow for proper recuperation4.
  3. Type of Exercise:
    • Different exercises and training modalities have unique demands on the body. Tailor rest periods based on the specific demands of your workout routine.

Take-Home Messages:

  1. Listen to Your Body:
    • Pay attention to how your body responds to different rest intervals. Adjust based on how well you recover and perform in subsequent workouts.
  2. Goal-Specific Rest:
    • Align your rest periods with your fitness goals. Strength training, hypertrophy, and cardiovascular workouts may require different approaches.
  3. Individualization Matters:
    • There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Consider your fitness level, age, and exercise type when determining the optimal rest interval for you.


The question of how much rest you need between exercise workouts is multifaceted. By understanding the science behind rest intervals and considering individual factors, you can tailor your approach to optimize recovery, performance, and overall fitness progress. Remember, the key is to strike a balance that aligns with your goals and allows your body to adapt and thrive.

During all our group training sessions, we focus on supersets to maximise the amount of work we can fit into each hour’s session. During a personal training sessions, our approach varies depending upon the client’s specific needs.



  1. Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.
  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., et al. (2016). Longer interset rest periods enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(7), 1805-1812.
  3. Burgomaster, K. A., et al. (2005). Similar metabolic adaptations during exercise after low volume sprint interval and traditional endurance training in humans. The Journal of Physiology, 586(1), 151-160.
  4. Westcott, W. L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 11(4), 209-216.
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