The Rest Between Sets Question

Bernie Baron finishing a heavy military press back in the day (circa 1940). Old-school lifters understood the importance of properly timing rest between sets when they trained - not too long, and not too short!

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

One quick note, and then we'll get
down  to some old-school training

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2. The Rest Between Sets Question

I received an email from a reader in
Croatia, thanking me for writing the
Dinosaur Arm Training course.

But he had a question about how long
to rest between sets. He wanted to know
how long the old-timers rested between

That's an interesting question, and it
made me realize that many of the old
time books and courses didn't address
this issue in much detail -- and many
didn't address it at all.

When they did, the advice was pretty

"Rest a minute or two and then go on
to your next set or your next exercise."

Or this:

"Rest until your breathing returns to
normal, and then do your next set or
your next exercise."

That was pretty good advice 50 or 60
years ago, and it's still pretty good

Of course, you can go faster in-between
your warm-up sets. I often rest no longer
than it takes to load the bar on my
warm-up sets. That's all you need.

On heavier sets, you rest a little longer.

I typically rest two to three minutes
in-between my heavy sets.

Also, you need more rest in-between
sets of squats, deadlifts, clean and press
or similar movements that hit the large
muscle groups and cause plenty of heavy

So the basic rule of thumb would be 1 to
2 minutes rest on your warm-ups, 2-3 on
heavy sets, and perhaps 3 to 5 on really
hard and heavy sets.

The most important thing is to work at
a pace that allows you to stay warm and
stay focused. If you rest so long that your
body cools down, that's not good -- and
it's also not good to rest so long that
your mind begins to wander.

Keep your mind on your workout. Focus
on the next set or the next exercise
(whichever you will be doing). Visualize
it. Play a little movie in your mind's eye.
You're the star -- and you perform all of
your reps in perfect form.

Do NOT talk, chatter, watch TV, or use
your cell phone during your rest period.

Focus on your workout.

I prefer standing on my feet for my entire
workout. It keeps me loose and it keeps
my muscles from cooling down. But most
of all, it helps me stay focused.

If you prefer to sit down and rest between
sets, that's fine, too. But use your rest
period to get ready for the next set or the
next exercise. Make it an integral part of
your workout. Keep your focus from the
beginning of your workout to the very

I hope that helps, and if you have any
comments or questions, send them on

As always, thanks for reading and have
a great day. If you train today, make it
a good one.

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Dinosaur Arm Training is available in
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immediate electronic delivery:

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P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Details are
important, but the most important thing is
to train progressively, consistently,
passionately and intelligently."
-- Brooks Kubik

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