How Much Rest Time for Toning & Bulking Muscle?

Adequate rest between workouts helps you build bigger muscles.

Adequate rest between workouts helps you build bigger muscles.

You would imagine that getting buff takes lifting nearly every day. But, while toning and bulking up is going to take some time set aside for your workouts, giving your muscles enough rest is essential for bringing about the muscle-building results you’re looking for. Because you’ll be going through high-volume routines, your muscles will need a longer amount of rest between each workout. However, during your workouts, the rest time between each set needs to be relatively short.

Toning and Bulking

A workout designed to build tone and bulk features multiple exercises that target each muscle that you’re focusing on during that session. The idea is to leave your muscle tissue overloaded and damaged. This is essential, because it’s what stimulates the muscle-building process. Therefore, each exercise assigned is done for three to five sets, with repetitions ranging from eight to 20.

Rest Between Sets

To more effectively overload your muscle, keep your rest periods between sets relatively short. The American Council on Exercise recommends that you wait just 30 to 90 seconds before jumping into the next set. A short rest period stimulates the release of muscle-building hormones. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have much time for your workout, you can superset your workout. This means you bounce from a set of one exercise to a set of another exercise that targets a completely different muscle. Therefore, your muscles are getting their 30 to 90 seconds of rest while you’re doing a set of a different exercise.

Rest Between Workouts

Your muscles increase in size during the days off in between your workouts. In order to give your muscles enough time to fully recover and heal, give them 48 to 72 hours before you work them out again. This means you should only work a muscle group two to three times per week. If you’re completing three sets of each exercise, 48 hours off should be adequate. An appropriate workout schedule would be to lift on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. However, if you’re completing five sets of each exercise, consider giving them 72 hours of rest. In this case, an appropriate training schedule would be Mondays and Thursdays.

Schedule Considerations

Because toning and bulking workouts require you to do so many sets, it’s not uncommon to split muscle groups into separate workouts. For example, you could just work your upper-body muscles on Mondays and Thursdays and your lower-body muscles on Tuesdays and Fridays. You’re lifting four days a week, but each muscle group gets the necessary 72 hours of rest and how long each workout takes is cut significantly.

 

About the Author

Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.

Photo Credits

  • Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images