Articles » Lifestyle » General Health » How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

By Amanda Reck / April 10, 2018

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Every week, the BuiltLean Team addresses your fitness and nutrition questions. Read on to find out more.

  1. How long should I rest between sets?
  2. How can I alleviate wrist pain during a push-up?
  3. How can I use BCAAs in my fat loss program?
  4. What’s the difference between a metabolic workout and strength circuits?
  5. Does the BuiltLean Program advocate expensive supplements?

Question #1 – How long should I rest between sets?

Question: So, after I do the two exercises back to back with no rest, how long do I wait to repeat it again? – Ryan
Answer: For maximizing muscle gain, or fat loss, time between sets can be anywhere from 30-90 seconds depending on how quickly you recover. Pay attention to your heart rate, breath rate, and muscular fatigue. When you notice all of these factors return to normal, move on to your next set. Two rules you can incorporate into your training routine are: with fewer reps and higher weights, the longer you should rest. With lighter weights and higher reps, the shorter you’ll need to rest. Powerlifters rest up to 3 to 5 minutes between sets in order to maximize their strength output for each set, but that’s not recommended for most people.

Kristin (Kristin Rooke, CSCS, CPT)

Question #2 – How can I alleviate wrist pain during a push-up?

Question: Recently I started working out again. My problem is there’s pain in my left wrist when I do push ups, and it’s to the point where I can barely do them anymore. Is a way to help alleviate this pain? I’m 45 and starting to feel things break down (e.g. wrist pain), so I need to get myself back into shape (See How To Do A Push Up). – Vince
Answer: I would not do any more push ups if it hurts your wrist. As a general rule, if you feel pain during an exercise, don’t do it. Your body is telling you it’s not a good idea. Do other exercises that don’t cause pain. You may consider doing the pushups on your knuckles, which may eliminate the pain. Also check in with your doctor if the pain continues. You might have a cyst in your wrist. I developed a cyst when I was younger because I did so many push ups. Usually they can subside if you stop. Everyone, no matter what age may be feeling pain of some sort, or have some type of injury, so don’t let it get you down, just work around it.


Marc Perry ( Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

Question #3 – How can I use BCAAs in my fat loss program?

Question: This is a good and timely article given all of the conflicting views floating around, and this both-sides type of evaluation is what I love about your site. My mother has full blow celiac disease that she’s lived with her whole life and she has become quite learned on the subject. One thing your article doesn’t mention is how long to try a dietary elimination for. When my daughter tested positive for gluten allergy, the allergist said to take her off for 30 days before making a decision. My mom, who’s lived with it her whole life, said it can take multiple months for your digestive system to stabilize and heal. Is there a rule of thumb for dietary eliminations, insofar as how long you need to let it run before deciding whether it’s making any difference?
Answer: Recommendations vary from 1-2 weeks for children up to 4+ weeks for adults. There doesn’t appear to be a clear answer, but I think if you are not seeing any changes at all after 4 weeks, then continuing is not likely to have a positive effect. Again, though, every one is different. If you are seeing even minor changes for the better after 4 weeks, it makes sense to continue as long as changes for the better occur. If you decide to reintroduce, pay careful attention to negative changes and use common sense from there. I hope this helps.

Charlie Seltzer ( Charlie Seltzer, MD, CES, DABOM)

Question #4 – What’s the difference between a metabolic workout and strength circuits?

Question: Hello Marc, I have a question that’s been on my mind lately. Is there any difference between a metabolic workout and a strength circuit? Which is better for maximizing calorie burn and losing fat? Or are they the same? Thanks – Cesar
Answer: The difference is really semantics. A strength circuit workout is typically more metabolically challenging, but it depends on the exercises chosen, the weight used, and the specific sequences. So strength circuits can become a metabolic workout. I hope that makes sense. I wouldn’t get too caught up in the minutiae. The point is you can do two things regarding body composition and aesthetics (1) lose fat, or (2) build muscle. I think using strength circuits is an amazing framework to help get great workouts that are efficient. I think strength circuit workouts that are a bit more metabolically challenging (i.e. you are using larger muscle groups and compound exercises) is an excellent way to burn fat and improve your hormonal profile. Ultimately, nutrition is what will make the biggest difference in terms of fat loss, not the specific workout.

Marc Perry ( Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

Question #5 – Does the BuiltLean Program advocate expensive supplements?

Question: Does this program work naturally or does it advocate the use of artificial expensive supplements? – Pranay
Answer: Pranay,
This program works naturally and does not advocate the use of expensive artificial supplements. Within the nutrition plan, protein powder is an alternative food that can be used as a supplement, but it is not a necessity. We advocate the use of natural clean foods and hope this becomes a lifestyle rather than a temporary diet solution.

Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)


  • anon says:


    the questions at the beginning of the article do not match the questions addressed in the article. please make this correction.

    all the best and excellent website.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @anon - looks like question #3 was not right. I just fixed it. Thanks for letting us know.