We’ve already mentioned in multiple blog posts that increasing muscle mass (hypertrophy) can be achieved in multiple ways. In fact, there isn’t necessarily a “perfect” method for putting on size. However, we can look at the current science and use this as a basis for how we structure our sessions. If you want to delve deeper in hypertrophy, you may like a few of our previous posts.


What The Science is Saying

You may currently use or have used traditional rest periods for hypertrophy sessions. The NSCA standards have generally been 30-90 seconds rest to optimise muscle growth. However, multiple studies have argued otherwise. A study in 2009, found rest periods of 2 and a half minutes to be more effective than simply 60 seconds. However, this doesn’t match previous findings that suggested there was no difference. Not very helpful, right?

More recently, studies seem to support the idea of longer rest periods being more effective. Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple, it never is! These findings suggest that rest periods effect the upper and lower body differently.While the upper body seems to be less effect by differences in rest, the lower body is much more responsive.


So, What IS BEST for Hypertrophy

Overall, it would appear that 60 seconds is not sufficient for any muscle group when you are looking to maximise increases in muscle mass. Some authors have suggested a minimum of 2 minutes is necessary. The important things to take home here is that there is no gold standard. We can only use these findings as guidelines. These are the rules I tend to follow when programming hypertrophy sessions for myself or clients.

  • Aim for 2 minutes rest
  • Lower body benefits more from longer rest periods
  • Rest enough to allow you to move sufficient loads effectively
  • Everybody is different
  • don’t be afraid to play & experiement

As a leading Personal Trainer in Surrey, I will always try to find what works best for my client as an individual. Yes the science is there to guide us, however practical application is never that straight forward. Again, don’t be afraid to experiment with rest periods and find what works for you.