Stop staring at your phone and just do the dang workout, bro! We get it: You’re a gym rat who can’t wait to tell your bros about your “grueling three-hour pump sesh.” Because you are the pump sesh, and the pump sesh is you. But here’s the thing, bro, you’re not maximizing your brotein shake if you spend three-quarters of your gym time swiping right or scrolling through your feed, wondering how to out-bro your bros’ workout videos.
Now, before you dismiss me as some beta who, it’s true, does not even lift, listen to some advice from Jonathan Jordan, an award-winning personal trainer, nutrition coach, massage therapist and fitness blogger. I reached out to Jordan after multiple fellow staffers noticed the rise in gym bros resting for inordinately long periods of time between each set, settling down on the bench with their phones for minutes at a time. Was this, we wondered, some new fitness trend we weren’t aware of? Or was it just, like… dumbness?
Sorry gym bros — it’s most often the latter. You see, according to Jordan, one consequence of resting too long between sets is that you’re not breaking down the muscle adequately to cause hypertrophy — i.e., the thing that induces muscle growth. “I tell [my clients] that depending on how much weight you’re lifting, you should rest for anywhere between 60–120 seconds,” says Jordan.
Or basically just long enough to, “give your muscle time to recover ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which allows your muscle to contract so you can do a lift. So depending on how much weight you’re lifting and how much ATP you’ve used up, the body needs time to recover and restore ATP.”
To that end, Jordan says that if you’re doing what he refers to as a “one rep max” — which basically means the maximum amount of weight you can lift, just one time — you might need to rest for three to five minutes because you’ve exerted so much energy and spent all of your muscle’s ATP. “But if you’re doing a workout to gain muscle and strength, 90 seconds should be enough,” says Jordan.
So yes — long rests are a thing, but only if you’re training for some kind of record-breaking power lift. Still, Jordan admits that even he can get caught up on his phone sometimes. “I don’t feel bad about checking Facebook, because I’m timing my rest,” says Jordan. “If somebody comes up to me and asks me how much longer I’m going to be using the bench, I tell them how many more minutes I have left, rather than how many sets.”
Generally speaking, though, Jordan says he’d like to see more bros learning to not be such jerks about sharing gym equipment. “I don’t like the sense of entitlement,” says Jordan. “If you’re taking a rest between sets and someone asks you if they can use the bench, let them. The gym is a shared space.”
You heard him, Bronan the Gymbarian: Share the equipment! If you are waiting five minutes before your next sick lift, let another bro use the bench. It might feel weird at first, but who knows what good may come of it? Maybe even a new best bro, bro!