working out – when to rest and how long to rest

Occasionally I get asked about rest periods, especially in some of the workouts that don’t spell them out (which is most of them). What kind of Functional Fitness program would it be if we didn’t have rest periods!

A large percentage of Kemme Fitness workouts have multiple circuits.  An obvious place to rest would be at the end of the circuit, or each round if the circuit calls for more than 1 round. However, what to do if the circuit is too long or if it is a list type format (meaning that it is all one long list of exercises)? 

Here is where you need to think back to the 4th dimension of Functional Fitness – HIIT.

HIIT is an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training. Not all of Kemme Fitness workouts are in this format, but it is something we utilize frequently. Without going into all the research, know that if you perform exercises with intensity for short periods and then rest (an interval), the research says you will lose more fat and calories. If you subscribe to Tabata et al’s research, the Tabata Interval is a type of HIIT and claims to enhance both aerobic and anaerobic capacity. This website (here) explains it pretty well.

Long story short, working out more intensely, but resting as needed, will get you better results (that is if by “results” you mean that you become a super ninja samurai hero, which is what will happen if you listen to me).

Now when I rest, I am often in the fetal position sucking my thumb. My wife, well she looks all graceful like the lady in the top photo, so people are chosing to train under her more and more. I don’t blame them.

Back to my tip on how to find rest periods. A great tip is to group together 2 to 4 exercises in a row. Hit ’em hard – really hard. Then catch your breath until you are ready to hit the next set (nice play on words here:  “hit” and “HIIT”).  This grouping of exercises technique is a great way to move into the HIIT/Tabata Protocol zone (remember…super hero time). This is also a way to fight the mental game involved with working out. You are taking a long chore (a list of exercises such as the one in this workout) and breaking it up into smaller, more managable parts. This is the same common sense the military uses, get out of debt plans use, etc.

The final tip deals with the length of rest periods. My answer to that is…wait for it…wait for it…take as long as you need. Seriously though, that is my tip. Do not worry about how long you need to take to get rested to go back at it. This ability of muscles to recover from short bursts of energy (anaerobic capacity) will improve very quickly, so don’t stress about it. Take as long as you need.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Shane

    When I got started working out, I did the Insanity program by Beachbody. One of the takeaways I got from that was the best way for me to figure out when it was time to rest.

    When you are in charge of your rest periods, you have a lot of responsiblity. If you want to take a break, are you being a wuss or is it really time? How do you know when you are pushing yourself hard enough, but not too hard?

    The clue is your form. If your form on any exercise is suffering, then its time to take a break.

    So, if I’m cranking out Burpees, which I hate, and I want to stop for a break, I look at my form. If everything is going well, I’m being a wimp. If, however, I notice that my butt is dropping way down when I’m kicking my feet out and my core is not engaged, then its time for a break.

    The side effect of this is that you reduce your risk of injury by focusing on and re-checking your form constantly.

  2. Lawrence Boivin

    Normally when I reach the point that I think that any of the following is going to happen is when I take a break:

    1 – my heart feels like it’s going to explode into a billion pieces, just like Alderan

    2 – my body refuses to move, despite the mental lashing it gets from my (hair) brain

    3 – I involutarly pee or poop my shorts (I’ve never gotten that far)

    4 – I puke up a little bit – although this has happened on a couple of occassion, now that I think about it, I don’t beleive I’ve ever stopped – just made a nasty face & kept going. I should be checked…

    5 – I injure myself. This one is actually a serious category. I once rolled my ankle so badly that I honestly thought it was broken. Instead of stopping the workout, I limped around for a couple of minutes, then finished my wod. DON’T do that. I regretted that for months afterwards. My Dr told me about 2 months later that the sprain was so bad, that the only way it was going to heal was to stop all activity for at least 4 – 6 months. Of course I did no such thing. It took a good year for my ankle to finally heal.

  3. Seth

    Great advice Shane! Lawrence, I like that you specified ‘involuntarily’ in #3. I have a new respect for you workout intensity. 🙂 I also can relate to your feeling about the puke thing. How about a drink of water? No thanks, I’ll just re drink the stuff from earlier.

    1. Lawrence

      Hey it’s possible to pee/poop yourself “involuntarily” during a wod. Just google Miranda Oldroyd bladder failure & watch. 🙂

      As far as #4 goes – haven’t we all done that at one point or another? I know it’s happend on more than a few occasions w/ me. I’m just trying to do my part & save the world by recycling. Ya – that’s what I’m doing – I’m recycling!!!!


      But all kidding aside always take your injuries seriously. You’re hurt – too bad, keep plowing through your work out. You’re injured – stop your work out & heal.

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