What Should You Do Between Sets?

Step into any gym and you’ll see numerous guys sitting around doing nothing 75% of the time they are training. All things being considered, this isn’t a bad thing – if you are training somewhat hard you need a little rest and recovery between sets, so in actuality I don’t really have a huge problem with this.

That being said, I feel you can still get a little more out of your workouts while still training hard and optimizing recovery between sets. Instead of just sitting around and recovering, I prefer performing a little active recovery between sets, working on other aspects of fitness that you may need a little work on. Here are four good ideas to consider between sets to optimize your training time;


A great way to get more out of your workout is to stretch between sets. Stretching isn’t intense and will allow you to make some positive change while also recovering between sets – and you could probably use it, we all have tight muscles that are screaming for a little attention.

When it comes to what you should be stretching you have a couple options. If you are on a typical upper/lower split which I usually am, you can stretch a muscle group you aren’t training that day – like a good pec stretch during a quad dominant movement or a hip flexor stretch while performing chin ups.

Another good option would be to train the opposite muscle group that you are training (antagonist). For example, if you are performing a quad dominant exercise, stretching your hamstrings may be a good bet or stretching your pecs while doing some chin ups could do the trick.


One of my favorite and good to ideas between sets is to add some core work. I personally will usually do a couple different core exercises throughout a workout, typically doing one towards the beginning of the workout and one towards the end of the workout. Some of my go to core exercise are front and side planks, rollouts, ½ get ups, anti-rotation presses and even some med ball slams – nothing crazy, just getting some core work out of the way while recovering from some strength work.

Improving Tissue Quality

One area that I think most people, if not all of us, can improve is our tissue quality. Grabbing a foam roller, a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, tiger tail, or whatever else tickles your fancy and improving your tissue quality is a great idea. I can almost guarantee that you have some areas that could use the attention, so why not get after it between sets.

Corrective Exercise

First off, I understand that improving tissue quality is in itself a corrective exercise, but what I am getting at here is what most people would consider prehab/rehab or typical corrective exercise. Things like leg lowers, T-Spine work, toe touch to squat, and hip flexor/extensor movements may be a great idea between sets. They aren’t very intense at all which would still allow you to recover between sets and they will help you flat out move better.

There you have it, four simple yet effective ideas for you to take with you into the weight room. Instead of sitting around and being the creepy guy starring at all the girls on the treadmills you can continue focusing on improving between sets all while not hindering your recover. I have personally added most of this in some way during my workouts, doing some core, some stretching, some corrective work, and sometimes some tissue quality improvement if I am really sore or tight in certain places.

Bottom line: there is something (or a couple things) on this list that you need to improve and between sets is the perfect time to tackle these issues.

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