top of page

Understanding Work-To-Rest Period Ratios

If you are having difficulty applying work-to-rest period ratios, I recommended taking a looking at the table below, Table 3.6 from the Essentials of Strength & Conditioning textbook. First, what are work-to-rest period ratios? What exactly do they mean?

Work-To-Rest Period Ratios
Table 3.6

These ratios tell us how much rest we should take, based on the duration of the activity, and its intensity. Let's use the Phosphagen System. We do need to be able to understand what energy systems we are PRIMARILY utilizing during any given activity. Activities such as olympic lifting, powerlifting, baseball, football, sprinters, jumpers, and throwers are athletes that primarily use the Phosphagen system for energy. If we look at the third column in the table, we see that the typical exercise time is 5-10 seconds. So I am able to exert 90-100% of my maximum power for 5-10 seconds. In order to fully resupply my ATP stores via the Phosphagen system for my next set, at this given intensity, a work-to-rest period ratio of 1:12 to 1:20 is recommended. What this means is that each second of activity should be followed by 12-20 seconds of rest.

For example, say my exercise time is 10 seconds at 95% of my maximum power (let's say I am doing sprint intervals). Based on the recommended work-to-rest period ratios, I should rest for 120-200 seconds after each set. This is how I got my rest time:

Exercise time: 10 seconds

Work-To-Rest Period Ratio: 1:12-1:20

10x12 =120 seconds

10x20 = 200 seconds

This answer is given in the range of 120-200 seconds. In other words, my rest period can last anywhere from 120 to 200 seconds. The math required involves you having to take the exercise time and multiply it by the two recommended work-to-rest period ratios. This is it in terms of math. You do need to be able to do the following:

  1. Understand which athletes/sports utilize each energy system

  2. Know all the details of this table without looking at it

  3. Multiply numbers with pencil and paper, NO CALCULATOR ALLOWED DURING EXAM

Hope you found this information on Work-To-Rest useful!

Thank you for reading,


438 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page