Do Your Intervals Count? What Science Says About Work-to-Rest Ratios

What Is A Work To Rest Ratio?

A work to rest ratio (WTR) is a measure of how much time it takes to recover from exercise compared with the amount of time it takes to perform the same activity again. WTR measures the recovery between two different types of activities. For example, if you were doing pushups and jumping jacks at the same time, your WTR would be the number of seconds it took you to recover between each type of activity.

For example, if you did 10 minutes of running before starting your workout then rested for 30 seconds after completing one set and another set, your total recovery time would be 60 seconds. If you continued to do the same routine for another hour, your recovery time would have increased to 90 seconds. However, if you had been resting for only 20 seconds after finishing one set and another set, your recovery time would have decreased to 40 seconds.

The higher the WTR value, the longer it will take you to get back into shape after exercising. The lower the WTR value, the faster you’ll return to form when you stop exercising. The WTR value for many exercises is 2-3.

When you stop exercising, your body goes into recovery mode. This is a state where it is trying to replenish the energy its muscles lost during a given exercise routine. Any type of exercise puts stress on the body, including resistance training, aerobic exercise and anaerobic exercise (like sprinting). You can see this in action by lifting weights and then immediately trying to sprint as fast as you can. You’ll notice your muscles are significantly weaker, even if you only rested for a few seconds.

WTR isn’t just limited to weight training. If you jump rope at a moderate pace for a few minutes and then try to run around the block as fast as you can, you’ll notice that your body is significantly winded and you won’t be able to move as quickly or efficiently. Even if you just went for a walk, your legs will feel extremely week. This type of exercise puts your body into recovery mode.

So, how long should you rest between sets of weight training?

If you’re a beginner, then you won’t need to rest at all. If you weight train three times per week, then you’ll likely notice that your muscles are extremely sore the next day. In fact, you might not even be able to move around as quickly as normal or get up from sitting down or lying down with ease.

Sources & references used in this article:

Serious cycling by ER Burke – 2002 –

Get Leaner And Healthier Faster With HIIT! by WTSYH Sessions –

Recovery from training: a brief review: brief review by PA Bishop, E Jones, AK Woods – The Journal of Strength & …, 2008 –

The Ultimate Guide to Speed and Conditioning for Softball Players by NWDSD Fall, IT Mix –

Sprint Interval Training-“It’sa HIIT!” by MJ Smith – Colorado State University, 2008 –

Article Categories by M Reid –

Determination of Critical Rest Interval using Repeated Sprint Ability Testing by M Hughes, IM Franks – Notational analysis of sport, 2004 – Routledge

Athletic trainers’ perception of interval/intermittent training in rehabilitation by M La Monica – 2014 –