What are the benefits of timed rest?

Often times, people ask me why I time certain rest periods and don’t time other rest periods.  A lot of this depends upon a few aspects that need to be taken into consideration.  What are the goals of the session? What are the goals of the athlete? What type of athlete is being trained?


I have seen the entire rest period gambit.  Everything from the Weightlifting Colombians taking 45 seconds to a minute in between their warm ups all the way to Olympic level shot putters taking 4-5 minutes between sets that are just 70% of their max!  


Short rest periods on technical lifts:

  • Shorter rest periods on technical lifts can teach the lifter to shut off their brain and FEEL THE MOVEMENT!!! Often times my athletes will creep close to or even PR their technical movements while doing On The Minute (OTM) drills.  This drill forces the athlete to use feeling as their guide and it forces them to stay entirely focused on the task.  The short rest period prevents texting, talking and daydreaming, all things that can have a negative impact on technical movements.

Short rest periods on strength lifts:

  • These are great for bodybuilders and for strength endurance athletes such as wrestlers.  What ends up happening is the training session turns into a semi-interval based session.  It is preferred to start the program off with a fairly heavy strength movement.  Give the individual 3-4 minutes of rest and then lead into short rest periods on bodyweight movements or even simple bodybuilding exercises.  It may sound insane but OTM drills on the bench press or on pull ups with about 70% of the athletes maximum can lead to impressive endurance strength and a massive pump for the bodybuilder.  

Best rest period recommendations:

  • For maximal strength exercises and max technical exercises it is preferred to stay in the 2:30-3:30 rest period...with that being said, be sure to actually time this out.  Often times, athletes think they are only taking a 3 minute rest break, only to realize they’ve been bullshitting on the gym pew for 5 minutes.
  • For moderate technical exercises and moderate strength exercises: 1:00 to 2:00 is ideal here and it is preferred to stay closer to 1:20 during these breaks.  This will teach better conditioning and better movement.
  • Bodyweight movements and finishers: It is best to keep the rest periods on finishers around 45 seconds to 1 minute!  Set up the lifts as a mechanical drop set which will enable recovery DURING movements and thus aid in keeping the rest period much shorter.

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