The amount of time you rest in-between sets affects your testosterone and growth hormone or doesn’t affect neither? Let’s look at what the science has to say about the rest time for optimal testosterone
Study 1 – Longer Rest Time Between Sets Equals Longer Lasting Elevated Testosterone
This study looks at how shorter/longer rest between sets affects testosterone. They compared 1 minute between sets rest and 3 minute between sets rest on 10 trained men doing the bench press.
The results were – cortisol didn’t change on either 1 minute rest time or 3 minute rest time, and growth hormone (GH) didn’t change either. What did change is those that rested 3 minutes between sets had a longer lasting elevation of total testosterone and free testosterone.
So the conclusion here is the longer you rest between sets doing a high intensity exercise the longer your testosterone will stay elevated after the workout, which is what we want. Don’t rest too much though, in the study their in between sets rest time was 3 minutes.
Study 2 – 90-120 Second Rest Between Sets Equals More Testosterone and 60 Second Rest Between Sets Equals More Growth Hormone
In this study there are 10 trained man again and they’re going to see how the rest intervals of 60 seconds, 90 seconds, and 120 seconds affect testosterone and GH. The exercises they’re doing are squats and bench press.
So results are, the GH levels were significantly higher when resting only 60 seconds in-between sets.
On the other hand testosterone levels were significantly higher when resting 120 seconds in-between sets.
Then it gets real interesting. Testosterone levels were the highest when resting 90 seconds in-between sets.
The conclusion from this study is – short rest intervals elevate GH more and longer (90-120 second) rest intervals elevate testosterone more. Keep in mind that the increase in GH / testosterone we’re talking about is immediately after the set. The study doesn’t say how long these elevations last.
Study 3 – 1 Minute Rest Between Sets Has a Bigger Impact on Hormones Than 2.5 Minutes in Untrained Men but only in the First Week of Training
This next study had 12 untrained but healthy males do some strength training. Some of them had 1 minute rest between sets and others had 2.5 minutes of rest between sets. They were doing squats and bench press.
The results here were – the group that had 1 minute rest between sets got a higher increase in testosterone than those who rested for 2.5 minutes between sets, but the 1 minute rest group also had an increase in cortisol post workout.
The conclusion here is that in healthy, recently untrained males having a 1 minute rest between sets has a bigger impact on their hormonal response, but only in the first week of training. These differences disappear by week 10 of training.
There’s not much to conclude from this study so take it how you will.
Study 4 – Moderate Intensity Sets with 2 Minutes of Rest and High Intensity Sets with 5 Minutes of Rest Have No Difference on Testosterone or Growth Hormone
The last study here has 13 strength trained men experimenting with 2 minutes of rest between sets with moderate intensity and 5 minutes of rest between sets with high intensity.
This experiment went on for 6 months. You’d be surprised at what they found (hint – nothing). They found no significant changes between the 2 minutes rest moderate intensity and 5 minutes rest high intensity.
The reason is because of different intensities. If both had high intensity then we can assume the group with 2 minutes of rest had a higher increase in GH and the group with 5 minutes of rest had a higher increase in testosterone.
Overall Conclusion – More Rest for Optimal Testosterone Less Rest for Optimal Growth Hormone
The rest time for optimal testosterone isn’t optimal for GH. There are a few factors that come into play; the individual person and the intensity of your sets. With the research we have we can conclude that for more testosterone you do high intensity sets with a longer in-between rest time (1.5-5 minutes). And for more GH you do high intensity sets with a shorter in-between rest time (1.5 minutes or less).
To get more of both testosterone and GH do both. On heavy compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, or bench use a longer rest time and on lighter exercises like jump squats, push ups, pull ups use a shorter rest time.
That’s the rest time in between sets for optimal testosterone and growth hormone. Win win.