Frequently asked fitness questions, part 2

It’s time for another ”most frequently asked questions” blog. Here I will cover 3 different fitness topics that a lot of people seem to be having questions about. Answering these questions, I will always try to stay un-biased as much as possible and focus on facts rather than opinion. Of course, I can never take away my personal experiences with these topics so I will add these if they differ from what science tells us. These topics could all be included into a sperate blog but for the sake of covering 3, I will keep the answer a little bit shorter.

Today we will cover 3 very different topics; How much rest should you take between sets? When should You stretch? Last but not least, how long does it take to see results?

Let’s dive into this.

How much rest should I take between sets?

This is an interesting question because there are a couple of different training effects we have to take into a count. There are a lot of different ways of working out but we’ll focus on the main/basic ones here. *These answers are very generalized

Strength training:

Here we’re talking about people who are actually looking to get stronger muscles. This is not necessarily about looking better physically, but lifting heavier weights and creating stronger muscles (it’s important to know the difference). For proper strength workouts you’d like to rest anywhere between 3-5 minutes between sets. Why? Because it takes your muscles that long to recover anywhere between 97-100%. For strength training you want optimal recovery so you can lift the heaviest weight for the best possible reps in order to get stronger.

Hypertrophy/muscle growth

Hypertrophy is a step down from pure strength training in a way that it will make you stronger but it’s not necessarily the main focus point. The main focus is on making your muscles bigger. However, you need to get stronger in order to grow your muscles, because your body needs a heavier /more intense stimulus every training session. In order to do this, we’re looking for a rest period lasting 2-3 minutes. Why? We don’t need the full recovery because strength isn’t at the for-front but we still need to lift heavy weights, which means we can’t get away with shorter rest periods.

Volume training:

This style of training is used to get a lot of blood into the muscles. We can use this for muscle health, muscle recovery or a little bit of hypertrophy.

This style of training requires you to get a lot of work done with lighter to medium weights. The work load paired with loading allows/ forces us to rest a minimal amount. We’re looking at rest periods anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds.

The difference between strength traning (left) and hypertrophy (right)

When should I stretch?

You have to ask yourself the question, what am I trying to gain by stretching? You could stretch any time throughout the day but what is the most beneficial to your goal?

For most people the answer is to make their muscles more flexible, right? And by flexible we mean lengthening the muscles, because that is really what we mean by stretching it out. In order for that to happen you will have to stretch out your muscles whenever they’re not in a contracted* state. If the muscles are in a contracted state, all you will be doing is lengthening the muscles to their original state.

Ideally, you don’t want to do this right after a workout (because muscles will be in a contracted state), but you do want to be warm. So, stretching right after you wake-up is probably not the most beneficial.

*Contracted= when the muscle gets shorter

Short answer: You can stretch at any point throughout the day, but 2+ hours after waking up will generally get you better results.

How long does it take to see results?

Before even answering this question, you have to assess for yourself how much you have put into gaining these results and how long you have been doing this for.

One of my biggest pet-peeves as a coach is when someone is complaining about not getting results that they have clearly not worked hard enough for. But that is beside the point.

If all of your efforts line up (effort in the gym, nutrition, constantly progressing, variation, sleep, rest etc.) your body will start to change anywhere between 2-8 weeks’ time. By week 8 you should definitely have noticed a difference in physique, strength gain or aerobic capacity (based on whatever your training goal is). A lot of the times you won’t see these changes taking shape because you see a (physical/training) reflection of yourself every single day. *This is why taking progress pictures or measuring progress by different markers is a good idea.

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