The Hardest Thing To Add In A Clients Training: Rest Periods

On every training program that I have written or seen written by good coaches there is a rest period noted after each exercise.

Rest periods are important, however, rarely followed by clients.

Could be due to the Crossfit mantra of jumping from exercise to exercise. Or the whole “you’ll rest when your dead” remark is shot back at ya.

Although it may be hard to believe, Gryffindor won’t be deducted 300 points because your rested for 60 seconds between sets.


Rest periods are there for a reason, and they shouldn’t be ignored.

If our goal is to increase strength, rest periods are vital in order to achieve that goal. If you are looking at improving cardiovascular endurance, then yeah, maybe shorten your rest periods. However, we can work on cardiovascular health in other parts of the workout or on non-lifting days.

If we want to train strength we have to train the anaerobic energy system. Meaning, we need to allow for our body to rest to restore the energy we just burned from the previous set. If we complete a set with minimal rest, the energy stores in our muscles won’t be completely filled, and as a result, our power will decrease.

We don’t want to fatigue the muscle, we want to increase its strength. And adequate rest times allow for that.

This chart does a nice job of laying out rest times with what energy system you are trying to train.

For some people, they can’t fathom the idea of standing their awkwardly, twiddling their thumbs as they wait for 2 minutes to pass.

I like having people walk the perimeter of the gym at BEST. If they walk slow enough around, that will take them at least a couple minutes. And it helps make the time go by faster.

We can also add filler exercises, like different mobility drills that maybe someone is skipping in their warm ups, or something that works in conjunction with the main lift that they are doing.

We can add some thoracic spine mobility, hip mobility, or different corrective exercises. This low level stuff will take up the necessary time to allow for recovery in-between sets.

Here are some of my favorite exercises to implement as fillers.

Sidelying Windmill (thoracic rotation)
Lat Hang (lat stretch)
Forearm Wall Slide

If someone is still flying through their workout and not taking adequate rest, I may encourage them to peruse through Instagram or whatever on their phone.

Rest periods is a topic that has to be often discussed and explained to clients. So be prepared to have a talk if working with me why you need to rest between your sets.

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