What is the Optimal Rep, Set, Rest, and Recovery for your Training?


Reps or repetitions are defined as the collection of a full single motion or movement (one full concentric contraction and eccentric elongation of a specific muscle or muscle group) that is performed.

Below shows how many reps a specific training goal requires:
  • Endurance > (13-35) reps
  • Muscle development > (6-12) reps
  • Strength and power > (1-5) reps


Set is defined as how many reps you do in a row between periods of rest, for a single given exercise.

Below shows how many sets a specific training goal requires:

  • Endurance – (3-4) sets
  • Muscle development – (4-5) sets
  • Strength and power – (5-6) sets


Optimal rest time during workouts is ~30 seconds to 5 minutes, depending on the type of training, training load, and training intensity.

Recovery days or non-training days depend on the frequency of training (days of training), as well as the type of training.

Low to moderate intensity or endurance training – includes lean muscle building or endurance training/marathons.

High intensity – This includes High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), CrossFit, or High-Intensity Sport (ex. Soccer, Basketball, Mountain Biking).

High Load based Training – This includes Olympic Weightlifting and/or Bodybuilding.

For muscle hypertrophy (muscle building) rest is typically 30–90 seconds between sets, and/or exercises, and for endurance, training rest is typically ≤30 seconds between sets, and/or exercises. The general work to rest ratio on the above two is 1:1. So if you train for 60 seconds > then rest for 60 seconds. 


The phosphagen (Creatine Phosphate / ATP-PC) recovers halfway at 30 seconds in the body. Full recovery for this is at 90 seconds. Some individuals and athletes may still feel fatigued at 2 minutes. This may be due to the type of training or the training program. The ATP-PC is dominant in high-intensity athletes or HIIT.

Strength and power exercises or absolute strength athletes take around 2–5 minutes to recover after each set or exercise, depending on the intensity of the strength or power exercise being performed. This includes CrossFit Training, and any exercise or sport at high intensity, as well as heavyweight loading on the body.


Training goal Weight load Rest interval length (including in-between sets / exercises) Recovery between workouts*
Muscular Endurance (Including Marathon athletes)
≤70% 1RM
13+ reps (up to 35 reps)
Light – moderate ≤ 30 seconds 24 hours
71-80% 1RM
6-12 reps
Moderate – heavy 30-90 seconds 24-72 hours
81-85% 1RM
1-5 reps
Heavy – maximal 2-5 minutes 48-72 hours
≥86% 1RM
1-5 reps
Maximal 2-5 minutes 48-72 hours
Source:  NSCA Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd ed.) 2008.
*Before training the same muscle groups.



(%1RM) The maximum amount of weight you can lift for 1 repetition (or a 1 repetition max). Example: Your 1 repetition maximum for a deadlift is 200lbs (meaning that is the maximum amount of weight you can do for 1 rep).