What is Rest-Based Training?

Here’s a secret to success in enjoying your workouts. A new system and psychology for safe and effective exercise. RBT is a system that makes rest, not work, the primary goal of the workout. It allows participants to take a rest for as long as necessary. Rest actually becomes a tool for increasing intensity, because exercisers can strategically use it to work harder than they could without rest. It also provides a buffer against overexertion, making even high-intensity workouts safe (Warburton et al. 2005).

In RBT, the protocol adapts to the individual rather than forcing the individual to adjust to it.

As a personal trainer, I like to ensure that my clients get the results that they want but at the same time I want to be able to keep things safe and manageable for all fitness levels and physical abilities.

Rest-based training (RBT) is something new that has been brought to the table. It’s the opposite of interval training as the primary goal is to rest. It is good for beginners as it allows participants to take a rest as long as necessary and it becomes a tool to increase intensity as exercisers can use it to work harder than they could without rest. It also provides a buffer against overexertion, making even high-intensity workouts safe (Warburton et al. 2005).

With RBT, you are given complete control of the workout and create a self-motivation in yourself. You will become more aware of your physiology and more engaged in the programs. You can adjust your work and rest ratios according to your own needs using the “burst then rest strategy.”



For time-based workouts, make it about 30% shorter. For example, if an exercise set is ONE minute, you should be doing 40 seconds only.

For repetitions-based sets, do about 30% lesser. For example, if an exercise set is 10 reps, you should be doing about 7 reps only.

Your workout today lasts 30 to 40 minutes in total.

Stop and let others, go ahead with their set – don’t worry, you’ll be as fit as them if you follow our formula!


Make the exercises easier, go ahead – modify them to make the exercises work for you!

Smaller Ranges of Motion

Longer Rest – Catch your breath, breathe deep. Only join when you’re ready! Let the others start first, it is okay!


There are four key components of RBT, represented by the acronym R-E-S-T:

  • R= Rest-based. Rest, not work, is the goal of rest-based training. This automatically increases the quality of work done and makes exercise psychologically easier (Edwards et al. 2011; Ekkekakis 2009; Lander, Butterly & Edwards 2009; Rose & Parfitt 2010; Williams 2008). When exercisers have permission to rest according to their needs, they voluntarily work harder without being consciously aware they are doing so.
  • E = Extrinsic focus. Intrinsic sensations—such as breathlessness, burning and other sensations—are inhibitors of exercise intensity (Duncan et al. 2010; Williams 2008). Rest-based training incorporates techniques that focus exercisers on what they are doing (extrinsic factors) versus what they are feeling (intrinsic feelings). With this in mind, a RBT workout is often structured to be quick-moving and psychologically motivating.
  • S = Self-determined. RBT workouts are structured, but exercisers have complete autonomy over exertion and rest. They are taught to use their rest strategically to push harder than they could without it. Giving control to exercisers increases workout quality (Edwards et al. 2011), improves exercise adherence (Deci & Vansteenkister 2004; Ekkekakis 2009; Markland et al. 2005; Ryan & Deci 2000; Rose & Parfitt 2010; Williams 2008), makes exercise psychologically easier (Lander, Butterly & Edwards 2009) and improves results over time, when compared with more definitive exercise prescriptions (Mann 2010).
  • T = Time-conscious. Time and intensity are linked. Harder workouts must therefore be shorter by necessity. RBT workouts usually last from 20 to 40 minutes and incorporate start-and-stop work and rest segments according to individual needs.

Reviews done by Ekkekakis, author of Let them roam free? Physiological and psychological evidence for the potential of self-selected exercise intensity in public health, Sports Medicine stated that those given the ability to self-regulate exertion do not default to lower exercise intensities but rather, work at greater intensities than predicted. While interval training employs rest for greater exertion, RBT takes this concept one step further by using rest coupled with control. This achieves the results of interval training while keeping the workout safe and appropriate for all fitness levels. The wording used in this approach is “Push until you can’t; rest until you can.”

An analysis of more than 400 aerobic exercise studies over 25 years were done to show that aerobic exercise provides an insignificant weight loss advantage over diet alone whereas moderate-intensity aerobic exercise showed little metabolic stimulation.

Researchers have also determined that higher-intensity exercise like weight training and interval exercise burns significantly more calories than once thought. It provides a substantial metabolic advantage. An analysis done by Schuenke, Mikat & McBride (2002) states that the metabolic advantage can also result in a significant “after-burn” that can last 16 hours in women and 48 hours in men.

A study was done to show individuals will self-regulate work and rest intervals to maximize intensity and ensure adequate recovery. 11 well-trained runners were put through two trials. In the first trial, 1, 2 and 4 minutes of rest were given after 4 minutes of intense exertion. They found 1 minute was too short, 4 minutes was too long and 2 minutes was just right.

The experiment was repeated, but this time the runners were instructed to rest as long as they felt was adequate and then resume the workout. Surprisingly, the average rest taken by the participants in the second experiment was 118 seconds, almost identical to the 2 minutes researched done previously. The conclusion was that the concept of self-pacing facilitates greater self-awareness of physical capabilities as well as individual conditioning requirements.

Boot camps, interval training, metabolic conditioning and other more anaerobic programs are getting more popular and deliver results wanted by clients. A comparison was done between traditional aerobic workouts and interval training and it shows the former yield substantial benefit. A study was done to compare a 20-minute anaerobic interval program with a 40-minute aerobic program. Sessions were conducted three times each week for 15 weeks. At the end of the study, the anaerobic group had lost approximately 5 pounds of fat while the aerobic group showed a non-significant trend.

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