Less rest, more success: In a recent study at California State University, San Marcos, people who slashed their workout time in half by reducing their rest increased their post-exercise calorie burn.
But you don’t have to eliminate rest altogether to see results—and you shouldn’t anyway, says Bruce Mack, cofounder of Men's Health Thrive. "Overall, rest is important because if you try to push through a difficult workout without reprieve, you put yourself at risk for injury and you won't perform to the best of your ability," he says.
The key is to manipulate your rest periods responsibly to be able to fit more work in less time, Mack says. Though the amount of rest you cut will depend on your fitness level and the workout you’re doing, you can start by trying to slash it in half—going from 30 seconds between exercises to 15, for example.
For an even greater challenge, perform a pair or series of moves without taking a break. “When you go from exercise to exercise without stopping, you start to feel the challenge in other parts of your body,” he says. “For instance, holding on to the same pair of dumbbells for two or three moves in a row will tax your grip, big time.”
However, there are two times when you should reconsider reducing your rest periods:
1. When you’re wiped
“You still need to be able to perform every rep with perfect form,” says Mack. “If you get so fatigued that you can’t do the move properly, you’re putting yourself at risk for injury and not maximizing your results.”
2. When you attempt big lifts or perform power exercises
“You should rest between reps of moves like a heavy deadlift or an explosive barbell clean,” Mack says. This will ensure that you do each exercise correctly to protect yourself from injury. “And you'll reap more benefit from being able to attack each rep with fresher muscles than you will from performing consecutive reps or sets without resting.”