MOST GUYS SPEND far too much time chatting between exercises, leading to a much longer workout than necessary. To stay on-task at the gym and get an efficient workout in, you should time your rest periods. Wear a stopwatch, and set a timer to beep when it’s time to attack the weights again.

How long you rest between exercises is completely dependent upon your goals and your individual workout. For instance, heavier workouts may require a few minutes between exercises, whereas workouts designed to strictly increase size should feature shorter rest periods, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. To maintain a high output, you need to rest enough to allow your muscles a chance to recover.

To determine how long you need to rest during your workout, follow the guidelines below:

Goal: Muscular endurance
Reps: 12-20
Rest time: 30-45 seconds

Goal: Muscular hypertrophy
Reps: 6-12
Rest time: 60-90 seconds

Goal: Muscular strength
Reps: 3-5
Rest time: 2-4 minutes

Goal: Muscular power
Reps: 1-3
Rest time: 3-5 minutes

Don’t think that this time is only meant for complete rest. Make use of these extra minutes by foam-rolling tight muscles, working opposing muscle groups, or refining and focusing your technique for the next set.

About the trainer: Jeremey DuVall

Jeremey DuVall is a personal trainer based in Denver, CO. He received a Master’s degree in Human Performance from the University of Florida while specializing in strength training for endurance athletes. For more on DuVall, check him out at or on Twitter, @JeremeyD.

by Jeremey DuVall, M.S., CPT