PHUL: How Much Rest Between Sets?

As previously noted, I’ve started following the PHUL workout routine. A common question for people starting a new program is how long to rest between sets. There’s no single “right” answer to this question.

From a practical perspective, rest times will depend on multiple factors: your goals, the structure of your workout, time available, etc. Without delving into physiological details, you should rest long enough to make sure you hit your targeted sets/reps, but not so long that your workout takes forever.

With that said, here’s what has been working for me…

For upper body workouts (both power and hypertrophy), a 2.5 minute break seems to strike a good balance between do-ability (for most exercises) and getting the workout done in a reasonable amount of time (ca. 1.5 hours). As the weights increase, I may revisit this and extend the breaks to 3 minutes, at least for lifts like bench press.

For the lower body workouts (both power and hypertrophy), I need more like 3 minutes between sets for the big lifts (squat and deadlift). That’s okay, though, as these workouts are a bit shorter. Thus, even with a slightly longer break, I can get through everything in a reasonable amount of time. For the lower body accessories, 2.5 minute breaks are a challenge, but do-able.

Some notes:

For starters, it’s been argued that your breaks should be shorter on hypertrophy days vs. power days. I have, however, made some modifications to the base routine (e.g., splitting the heavy deadlifts and back squats into separate days). Thus, the power vs. hypertrophy distinction isn’t as clear for me as it might be for others, at least on lower body days.

Moreover, I’m switching to PHUL from a low-ish rep, power-centric routine, and I’m still early in that transition. As such, I may need longer breaks on the hypertrophy days than someone who’s better adapted to high volume training. And I may be able to get away with shorter breaks over time.

Workouts & Training
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