Hunter Labrada Explains What Optimal Rest Periods Are

The Olympian detailed how to maximize training by getting proper rest between sets and sessions.

How often should you train each muscle group? How much rest should you give yourself between sets in the gym? Providing yourself with the necessary rest time to recover can maximize your training, but understanding how long that varies from person to person. On July 19, 2022, bodybuilder Hunter Labrada took to his YouTube channel for another episode of his “Tuesday Tip” series to discuss optimal rest periods.

In this episode, Labrada discusses why optimal rest periods are essential and how they can improve training progress for hypertrophy. Check it out below:

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The simple definition Labrada offers about rest times is the time it takes to recover after completing one set before performing another. However, calculating the time it takes to recover is much trickier. To solve this, Labrada suggests a thorough understanding of what an intense working set to failure does to the body, so you know what you need to recover from.

Diving into the details, Labrada lays out the following which results from an intense set to failure:

  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Oxygen Deficit in the Muscle
  • Byproduct Waste Produced in the Muscle (Lactic Acid)

In terms of hypertrophy, getting the above factors back to baseline is the goal when allowing for recovery time.

In my experience, the best rest time is between three to five minutes between top sets.

Even given that time, Labrada explicitly states that your heart rate should never normalize “unless you’re taking 20-minute breaks between sets.” However, the rate of respiration (how fast you’re breathing) can normalize in that three-to-five minute window, which indicates that you’ve recovered from the oxygen deficit.


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A post shared by Hunter Labrada IFBB Pro (@hunterlabrada)

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Listen To Your Body

Labrada highlights the difference between a pump and muscles still buffering lactic acid from a previous set. If your muscles are “screaming” at you, then you should probably take a bit more rest time. Even if you begin the next working set before your body has buffered that lactic acid build-up, that set will likely not be as strong as it could have been or at the desired rep count.

The only thing I’m doing by decreasing those rest period is…keeping myself at a sub-optimal work capacity.

While spending less time recovering between sets can keep the heart rate elevated and still get someone in shape by burning more calories, it is not optimal if the goal is hypertrophy.

Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram