5 Consequences of Resting Too Long Between Sets While Working Out

One of our writers was asked, What happens if I rest too long between sets during a weightlifting workout?

We forwarded this over to our resident bodybuilder and here’s what he came up with:

Resting too long between sets during a weightlifting workout can have both positive and negative effects on your training. Here are a few things that can happen:

1. Loss of Intensity: Resting too long between sets can cause a loss of intensity. When you take excessively long breaks, your body may cool down, and your muscles may lose their pumped feeling. This can make it harder to maintain focus and perform at your best during subsequent sets.

2. Decreased Muscle Fatigue: Resting longer between sets allows your muscles to recover more fully. While this can be beneficial for strength training or heavy lifting, it may not be ideal for building muscular endurance. Shorter rest periods create a cumulative fatigue effect, challenging your muscles to work harder and adapt to increased stress.

3. Impact on Cardiovascular System: Depending on your fitness goals, the length of rest periods can affect your cardiovascular system differently. Longer rest periods give your heart rate more time to recover and return to a resting state. If you're aiming to improve cardiovascular endurance, shorter rest periods can be more effective as they keep your heart rate elevated throughout the workout.

4. Time Efficiency: Resting too long between sets can extend the overall duration of your workout. While it's important to give your muscles enough time to recover between challenging sets, excessively long rest periods can lead to unnecessarily lengthy workouts. Finding a balance between rest and work time can help optimize your training sessions.

5. Adaptation to Training Stimulus: Rest periods play a role in the specific adaptations your body undergoes during weightlifting. For example, shorter rest periods with higher repetition ranges can promote hypertrophy (muscle growth), while longer rest periods with heavier weights can focus on strength development. Understanding your goals and adjusting your rest periods accordingly can help you tailor your training to achieve specific outcomes.

Ultimately, the length of rest periods should align with your training objectives. It's beneficial to vary rest periods based on the specific exercises, loads, and goals of each workout. Consulting with a fitness professional or personal trainer can provide valuable guidance on structuring your weightlifting workouts for optimal results.