Being Strategic With Your Exercise Rest Time
No matter what you do in the gym, whatever routine or style of exercise you do in the gym you will always have a rest time. Even if it's a matter of a couple of seconds to a full 2 minutes we all have to have a brief interval before we go to town on the weights or the cardio again. The question has therefore been raised; how can we be strategic with our rest times to make them work for us instead of holding us back in the precious minutes we have to exercise a day? The answer is here!
Rest times are wholly dependent on your type of exercise. For this to be made obvious to you specifically check out our 'Periodisation' article on the website for more information on what rest times are good for you (and other articles on rest times). The general idea is that if you are doing more endurance exercises (cardio and muscular) you are looking to have rest times of about 30-60 seconds. If you are heavy lifting then the general rest time is about 1-2 minutes and no more. Rest times generally occur in between exercises that use the same muscle as the agonist (e.g. bicep curl agonist is bicep muscle). This gives your muscles some time to recover for the next exercise. Knowing you have the right intensity on whatever exercise you are doing is indicated by how long your rest time needs to be.
There is however a way to turn the rest time seen by many as a necessary waste of time into your advantage. This took a lot of thought and TDL Fitness has been able to articulate its idea here for you. So come with us and we shall explain;
To understand this from your point of view you are going to first need to have in mind your general rest time and exercise routine. We will be using examples to help if you haven't got any in mind yourself. Let's say then that we are doing a weighted exercise routine that encompasses a few different muscles. For example we do a bicep curl set followed immediately by a tricep dip set followed immediately by a shoulder shrug set. These have been purposely chosen because they all use different muscles. Let's say we are doing 10 sets of each exercise and the routine is to be repeated 4 times with the 3rd time being when we should feel a struggle to finish 10. This would mean a rest time of about 90 seconds. Now conventional wisdom would lump that 90 seconds after the shoulder shrugs to get us ready for the repeat of the whole routine?
This is where it gets fun. Of course you can do all 3 exercises and then rest for the full 90. You could also do this; let's use those 90 seconds more strategically. Why don't we split up the rest time where we see fit throughout the routine because whilst we are using different muscles in every exercise we are still using energy. So how do we get the strategy out of this? After the first set of the routine we might not need to rest in between exercises and the full 90 can be used until we start the next set of the exercises. Maybe we start to feel tired in between the bicep curl and the tricep dip? Why don't we use 10 seconds of that 90 seconds we earmarked as rest for this little rest time? This would mean we can get a bit more energy for the next exercise and it would take 10 seconds off that lumped rest time at the end of the set of exercises. Thus, instead of 90 seconds rest at the end we only rest for 80 seconds. Say on the third set of exercises we rest 15 seconds after the bicep curl and 10 seconds after the tricep dip? That would mean in the rest time after the set we only rest for 65 seconds.
This is an example of being economical and strategic with your rest times in a way that suits you! It is totally up to your discretion how you use the rest time to your advantage and using this method will help you a lot with keeping your gym workout effective with rest times. Remember however that rest times can't be transferred or refunded. If you cumulatively rest for less time than earmarked then that rest time is gone. So use it wisely.
This method of breaking up your rest time in between exercises is really effective when it comes to using multiple exercises spanning two or more main muscles targeted. This will make exercise routines of about 4 to 6 to 8 different exercises more attractive and more possible for people to do and complete. From personal opinion it makes exercising a bit more fun as it forces you to think of how tired you are and thinking quickly about whether you have the right energy to do the next exercise with the right form and with a likelihood of completing the full amount of repetitions. This does require some prior planning but not that much; you won't need a whole white board to think too strategically. It's fun and changes every time depending on how tired you feel. But don't go over the allotted rest time you have!
All you need to make this yourself is an idea of the muscles you want to target in an exercise routine that uses 3 or more exercises, split up so that you train a different muscle immediately after the previous exercise, an idea of the selected weight and how many reps and sets and of course the allotted rest time to use. Once you have that all mapped out then not only do you have a solid custom workout routine but the tools to use rest times to your advantage. Remember on average we probably rest just as much as we exercise when we are in the gym not including long and slow cardio.
Does this technique work on cardio machines? Of course it does but requires you to be quick on the buttons. The goal is slightly shifted however. You don't do routines so much on a cardio machine but you can manipulate it in this way:
Say you have a goal to go a distance of 3km on your chosen machine at a speed of 10 km/hr. In that time you are allowed 500 meters total of which to go at 4 km/hr which is your rest time. Therefore you can use that 500 meters in any way you see fit. You can split it up evenly across your map and rest 120 meters every kilometer, you can go full out and rest only in the middle or you can use 20 meter nuggets of rest time every time you feel a bit tired. This means that you can still use 'rest times' in a strategic way that emulates interval training but this way you have much more freedom to choose when your rest time is. This makes cardio VERY much more exciting and different every day! This keeps cardio fresh and a challenge as you set yourself a goal and a rest time goal that can change every week or even day! You become your own personal trainer much quicker with this.
This is a fantastic skill to have in the gym and anyone can have this skill. This promotes a much greater awareness of your body's energy levels, promotes a greater desire to have the right energy to do a healthy workout of your chosen exercise and keeps you on your toes every day. You will have different amounts of energy every time you go to the gym and this skill tailors to your energy levels on the day rather than you have to wind yourself up for a routine which requires a specific amount of energy from you. In response to this tactic many people have found this freedom to use your rest time how you see fit with an obvious and purposeful constraint keeps a workout efficient whilst giving you the chance to recover sufficiently to give as close to your full effort as possible no matter if you are at the beginning or end of your exercise routine. Try this out next time you go to the gym and you will be surprised how effective this skill can be. Once you master this easy skill you are one massive step closer to being the self-sufficient gym go-er we want you to be.