Preprint / Version 1

Give it a Rest

A systematic review with Bayesian meta-analysis on the effect of inter-set rest interval duration on muscle hypertrophy


  • Alec Singer
  • Milo Wolf
  • Leonardo Generoso
  • Elizabeth Arias
  • Kenneth Delcastillo
  • Edwin Echevarria
  • Amaris Martinez
  • Patroklos Androulakis Korakakis
  • Martin Refalo
  • Paul Swinton
  • Brad Schoenfeld Lehman College



rest period, recovery interval, muscle growth, muscle development, muscle thickness, muscle cross-sectional area


We systematically searched the literature for studies with a randomized design that compared different inter-set rest interval durations for estimates of pre-/post-study changes in lean/muscle mass in healthy adults while controlling all other training variables. Meta-analyses on non-controlled effect sizes using hierarchical models of all 19 measurements (thigh: 10; arm: 6; whole body: 3) from 9 studies meeting inclusion criteria analyses showed substantial overlap of standardized mean differences across the different inter-set rest periods (binary: short: 0.48 [95%CrI: 0.19 to 0.81], longer: 0.56 [95%CrI: 0.24 to 0.86]; Four categories: short: 0.47 [95%CrI: 0.19 to 0.80],  intermediate: 0.65 [95%CrI: 0.18 to 1.1], long: 0.55 [95%CrI: 0.15 to 0.90],  very long: 0.50 [95%CrI: 0.14 to 0.89]), with substantial heterogeneity in results. Univariate and multivariate meta-analyses of controlled effect sizes showed similar results for the arm and thigh with central estimates favoring longer rest periods (arm: 0.13 [95%CrI: -0.27 to 0.51]; thigh: 0.17 [95%CrI: -0.13 to 0.43]). In contrast, central estimates closer to zero but favoring shorter rest periods were estimated for the whole body (whole body: -0.08 [95%CrI: -0.45 to 0.29]). Subanalysis of set end-point data indicated that training to failure or stopping short of failure did not meaningfully influence the interaction between rest interval duration and muscle hypertrophy. In conclusion, results suggest a small hypertrophic benefit to employing rest interval durations >60 seconds with unclear effects as to durations >90 seconds.


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