top of page

Traditional 3- to 5-Minute Interset Rest Periods May Not Be Necessary When Performing Fewer Repetitions Per Set: Using Clean Pulls as an Example

Jukic, Ivan; Tufano, James J.

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: November 2022 - Volume 36 - Issue 11 - p 3015-3022, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003908


To investigate the effects of the below-mentioned points on barbell velocity and power output over multiple sets of clean pulls using different loads:

1. Three to five minutes of between-set (interest) rest is usually used for power-based exercises, but that recommendation is mostly based on a high number of repetitions (reps) which can create a lot of fatigue that requires longer rest periods to recover from.

2. If the number of reps per set is decreased before fatigue occurs, the between set rest periods may also be decreased without sacrificing performance.


Fifteen strength-trained men performed three longer sets of six clean pulls using 80% of their 1-RM (EXT80), 100% RM (EXT100), and 120% RM (EXT120) with 3:00 rest between sets and nine shorter sets of two reps using 80% of their 1-RM (SHT80), 100% RM (SHT100), and 120% RM (SHT120) with 45 seconds rest between sets.


Peak velocity was greater during the shorter set protocol compared to the longer set protocol @

o 80%: 1.74 vs. 1.68 meters/second (m/s).

o 100%: 1.47 vs. 1.41 m/s.

o 120%: 1.21 vs. 1.16 m/s.

Peak power was also greater @

o SHT100: 1874.6 vs. 1732.3 watts compared to EXT 100.

o SHT120: 1777.8 vs. 1,650.4 watts compared to EXT 120.

Therefore, reducing the number of reps per set may allow for interset rest periods to also be reduced while better maintaining performance. However, the extent to which rest periods can be shortened warrants further investigation as total rest time was equal in this study.


I call bullshit on the use of “total rest time” that has been a focus of study for years in various resistance training research projects. I believe it is an irrelevant point of discussion because it has minimal effect as compared to its components: that single rest period between sets. Anyone with at least ½ of a brain would know it is all about the 1) components of each set regarding load used (% of a 1-RM) and the time of the event (number of reps performed/cadence) and 2) amount of the single rest periods between sets regardless of how many sets are completed.

So, the reason this study showed that a :45 rest after nine sets of only two reps resulted in better performance as compared to a 3:00 rest after three sets of six reps was simply due to less acute fatigue occurred in the former and more acute fatigue occurring in the latter with all three % of 1-RMs. That is, the 2-rep events took no more that :05 to complete – fueled solely by the ATP-PC system that was not fully taxed - and full recovery was then realized after the :45 rest period. The 6-rep events took at least :15 (and probably even up to :20) to complete which maxed out the ATP-PC system and triggered the glycolytic system (which elicits the formation of pyruvate à lactic acid) and created much more fatigue that a 3:00 rest period could fully recover.

bottom of page