I just wanted to ask how long the rest intervals are generally for the circuits


By: Gym Jones

I just wanted to ask how long the rest intervals are generally for the circuits such as the power endurance workout for june 22, 2009. I am a bit confused as I read the rest period for power endurance exercises/circuits should be 5 to 7 minutes. Thanks.


This is an interesting question with the potential for any answer to further confuse the issues. The main point to consider when determining rest periods between sets is - obviously - the objective.

In the context of lifting, longer rest periods allow higher force or rate-of-force production during the work periods. Above 80% of 1RM we take a minimum of 3 minutes rest IF the objective is strength/power development otherwise fatigue eventually reduces output, and form degrades. At 90-100% of 1RM rest between sets may last 5-6 minutes.

In the context of an Interval Weight Training session (thank you Pat O'Shea) the rest periods are tuned toward an outcome. All IWT workouts are concerned developing "explosive power-endurance". Top-end force or rate-of-force production cannot be attained due to the quantity of reps used to prepare the player for the aerobic exercise periods, and, of course, the fatigue produced by the aerobic exercise itself.

However, we sometimes scale the loads/reps for each lift and the duration of the "free aerobic exercise" period according to the desired outcome.
For a strength/power emphasis:
Loads are heavier: 75-80%
Reps fewer: 3-5x
Aerobic periods 2 min
Rest periods 2-3 min

For a power-endurance emphasis:
Loads are lighter: 60-70%
Reps greater: 8-12x
Aerobic periods 2-3 min
Rest periods 90 sec to 2 min

For an endurance emphasis:
Loads are even lighter: 40-50%
Reps greater: 12-15x
Aerobic periods 3 min
Rest periods 60-90 sec

The above refers specifically to IWT workouts.

In the context of interval workouts designed to develop particular cardio-respiratory capacities the work/rest periods get really complicated. This is the domain of the geek and I won't go deep here. However, the standard guidelines hold true: shorter rest periods compromise continued performance while longer ones allow higher intensity and/or speed during work intervals. If "tolerance" is the objective use shorter rest periods. If high-end output is the objective use longer rest periods, or build short ones into the work intervals as in the case of 30/30s used to develop VO2 Max and race pace economy. See, it's a rabbit hole and I am tempted to dive in but can't do it justice here, now.

To answer the fellow's question I posted the following: no rest is specified for that workout on 6/22. The objective for that one is to go straight through without stopping. If we write "rounds" it indicates a non-stop circuit style effort and a decline in output is expected. If we write "sets" we specify what the rest period between sets should be, and, in this case, the rest is included to keep power output high throughout all work periods.

Power-endurance can be defined many ways: sometimes it is continuous output for 7-10 min, sometimes continuous but lower intensity output for (perhaps) up to 30 min, sometimes it means intermittent, repeated power output at varying levels of intensity (some field sports fit into this category, i.e. soccer, or even football), sometimes ... etc. Definitions are tricky and it's best not to get hung-up on them though we do need to agree on them before we can engage in a meaningful discussion.

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