IF TRAINING FOR STRENGTH OVER A LONG TIME, USE THREE SETS INSTEAD OF ONE
Marx, J. O., Kraemer, W. J., Nindl, B. C., Gotshalk, L. A., Duncan, N. D., Volek, J. S., Hakkinen, K., & Newton, R. U. (1998). The effect of periodization and volume of resistance training in women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 30(5), Supplement abstract 935.
Untrained women were assigned to three groups: Low-volume (N = 12), high volume (N = 12), and control (N = 10). Training occurred three times per week for 24 weeks.
Low-volume training consisted of performing one set of 8-12 repetitions to exhaustion using both upper body and lower-limb exercises. High-volume training consisted of performing three sets of the same exercises with sets being periodized between 6 and 12 repetitions. Testing was performed before the training began, after 12 weeks, and upon completion of the program.
Both groups improved in 1-RM strength at 12 weeks but only the high volume group improved beyond that time. The high-volume group also registered greater gains in the first 12 weeks than did the low-volume group.
It was concluded that one-set strength training does not provide an adequate physiological challenge to the body to allow for continued gains in strength in untrained women over longer periods of training.
Implication. While one-set strength training might produce gains similar to three-set training over a short training period, the greater training demand of three sets is required to produce continued improvements over long training periods.
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