To be the most effective in one area, you have to be familiar with its counterpart as well. “Working out” implies action. There is nothing about those words that say “lazy”. However, to effectively work out, you have to know how to effectively rest as well while you are doing it.
It would be easy just to assume that working out is all about how much you can do in a certain allotted amount of time. This is true for certain facets of fitness and training goals, but if you are looking at putting on some size and gain strength, resting in between sets is critical.
The time needed in between sets to rest is basically based off of your goals and training methods. Some easy formats to look at when trying to figure up rest times are as followed:
Goal: Muscular endurance
Rest time: 30-45 seconds
Goal: Muscular hypertrophy
Rest time: 60-90 seconds
Goal: Muscular strength
Rest time: 2-4 minutes
Goal: Muscular power
Rest time: 3-5 minutes
So, why rest? What is the point?
The body requires oxygen to function. The muscles need to provide you with a certain level of output to work out and work out effectively. The rest time in between sets allows your body to regroup, get some oxygen, and keep output levels as high as they can be given the hell you have been putting your body through.
When training for size and strength, these rest periods are imperative because you need the energy and strength to perform a workout that will last longer than 25 minutes. Where does the 25 minutes come from? Well, that is just an estimate of how long you would last if you attempted to do go from movement to movement without any rest time in between sets.
So, if you take 3 sets of 12 lateral raises, followed by 4 sets of 10 shoulder presses, without rest you would do 36 lateral raises and then go right into 40 shoulder presses. That hurts just thinking about it. Your workouts would be pathetic, and you would actually break your muscles down to the point of the muscles shrinking and risking injury.
So, you might not like the word “rest” or “break”, it is ok. This does not mean you have to do a set and then go chat for 15 minutes, which the gym is full of those types, but it simply means that training harder and smarter are actually two in the same, not different.