Q: I feel like I stand around too much in the weight room. How do I know if I’m resting too long between sets?
A: Resting in the gym can be a good thing or a bad thing. You need time to recover between sets so you can perform at your max effort. But rest time adds up, especially if you are idling for two to three minutes between sets of a strength or power workout. That may work for bodybuilders, but athletes need to move more.
A few different strategies can be used to stay on a tighter schedule in the weight room. First, try supersets. They involve performing two opposing exercises—e.g., a “push” move like the Dumbbell Bench and a “pull” movement like the Dumbbell Row—back-to-back with no rest between them. The first muscle group is able to recover while you do the opposite movement. The result: You complete two exercises in the time you’d ordinarily spend on one, keeping your heart rate elevated and building muscle more efficiently.
Another way to make better use of your rest time is active recovery. Do some stretching between sets to get a mobility boost and add more challenge to your muscles. Or perform core strength and stability exercises—like Planks or Side Planks with Leg Raises—between sets of your main lifts. If your goal is to lose weight or improve your endurance, work in a conditioning exercise, such as Burpees, Mountain Climbers or any other movement that gets your heart racing (and sends your calorie burn soaring).