3 Science-Based Training Strategies That Help You Build Muscle Faster

in Bodybuilding Science, Documentation

Between Sets: How Long Should You Rest To Build Muscle Faster?

Find out how much time you should rest between sets when you lift weights to build muscle faster.


How long you should rest depends on what you’re training. For hypertrophy, rest at least 2 minutes between sets. For strength, rest at least 3 minutes.

Science highlights

  • “When training with loads between 50% and 90% of one repetition maximum, 3-5 minutes’ rest between sets allowed for greater repetitions over multiple sets” (de Salles et al. 2009).
  • “In terms of chronic adaptations, resting 3-5 minutes between sets produced greater increases in absolute strength, due to higher intensities and volumes of training” (de Salles et al. 2009).
  • 3-minute rest intervals (vs. 1-minute) “promote greater increases in muscle strength and hypertrophy in young resistance-trained men” (Schoenfeld et al. 2016).
  • 2 vs. 5 minutes “did not have an influence on the magnitude of acute hormonal and neuromuscular responses or long-term training adaptations in muscle strength and mass in previously strength-trained men” (Ahtiainen et al. 2005).


For strength, at least 3 minutes should be used. For hypertrophy, 3 minutes is better than 1, but 5 minutes is no better than 2. With Dr. Muscle, you’ll rest at least 2 minutes for hypertrophy and at least 3 minutes for strength. Use timer option “automatch reps” for best results.


Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K. Short vs. long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic resistance training: influence on muscle strength, size, and hormonal adaptations in trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):572-82. PubMed PMID: 16095405.

de Salles BF, Simão R, Miranda F, Novaes Jda S, Lemos A, Willardson JM. Rest interval between sets in strength training. Sports Med. 2009;39(9):765-77. doi: 10.2165/11315230-000000000-00000.

Schoenfeld BJ, Pope ZK, Benik FM, Hester GM, Sellers J, Nooner JL, Schnaiter JA, Bond-Williams KE, Carter AS, Ross CL, Just BL, Henselmans M, Krieger JW. Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Jul;30(7):1805-12. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001272.

Antonio J. Nonuniform Response of Skeletal Muscle to Heavy Resistance Training: Can Bodybuilders Induce Regional Muscle Hypertrophy? The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. 2000;14(1):102-113.

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  1. I’m confused. In this article you state that the DrMuscle app will use 2 minute rest periods for hypertrophy and 3 for strength but in the actual app it only ever gives 25 second rest periods. I know it recommends the “rest pause” method by default so does that mean the 2 minute rest period no longer applies for any if your “in-app” routines?

    • Hi J. Great question. You’re right: I wrote this before we automated rest-pause inside Dr. Muscle. In a future update, we’ll let you choose between normal sets and rest-pause sets. At that point, the 2 to 3-minute rests will be back (with normal sets). For rest-pause, I’ve found 25 sec works best, so that’s why you’re seeing 25 in the app right now.

      Great question.