A lot of programmes out there build strict rest times directly into the programme, while rest is an essential part of any good training regime, a structured rest pattern may actually be holding you back. For me personal trainers that provide a generic rest template (which lets be honest is always 1minute rest at the end of each set) are not providing a high level of service to their client. Generic Rest times are nearly always a good indicator that the remainder of your programme is also generic.
A personal trainer that is actually with you in the gym (who you are paying good money to) should be able to understand your body better than you and push you at all times to your limit which may be by reducing rest time, equally the PT should be able to identify when you need more of a break and extend the rest time according. All too often I see Personal Trainers adhering to the 1 minute rule; which to the very fit client that has not maxed themselves on the last set represents 1 minute of chat with the PT and completely cooling down the muscles, Too the not so fit client that has maxed themselves out and can not even catch their breath back within the minute, the personal trainer is forcing them back to an exercise which borders on the point of injury, form tends to go out the window. Both extremes are equally damaging to your progress for very different reasons.
Online trainers such as myself should provide rest as a guideline and show when it’s a strict rest period – such as a pyramid set. The actual rest period required should consider the following : the exercises completed on the muscle previously, the rep range, the weight, but most of all the client themselves.
The typical guideline that I give is between 30 seconds and 1 min for sets within the one exercise and between 30 seconds and 2 minutes when moving to a new exercise. Minimum 30 seconds always! Maximum 2 minutes – anything over this your body is cooling down and you may need additional warm up to prevent injury.
The main thing to keep in mind is that you need to become self aware particularly of the muscle you are working out. The question you need to constantly ask yourself between sets is am I ready to go now…am I ready to go now…am I ready to go now? As soon as the answer becomes yes…you go no exceptions or waiting for the big hand to hit 12! Be honest with yourself, if you need more time take it, but this needs to be dictated by your body and not your mind!