Hass, C. J., Garzarella, L, de Hoyos, D., & Pollock, M. L. (2000). Single versus multiple sets in long-term recreational weightlifters. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 32, 235-242.

The effects of increasing training volume from one to three sets on muscular strength, muscular endurance, and body composition in adult recreational weight lifters (N = 42) was investigated. When athletes in heavy training perform auxiliary strength training, in many respects their responses are equivalent to recreational weight lifters. Ss had been performing one set (8-12 repetitions) of nine exercises in a circuit for a year. Ss were divided into two groups: one performing one and the other performing three sets of the exercises three times per week for 13 weeks.

Both groups improved in 1-RM performances and muscular endurance on the training exercises, and in lean body mass. No differences between the groups were exhibited. The one-set group still improved, despite having trained for a year before the study. An increase in lifting volume did not produce any added benefits.

Implication. For the development of strength in adults, one set of strength training exercises is as effective as three sets. For athletes who strength-train as a supplement to greater volumes of more specific training, one-set training regimes might be sufficient and the use of three-sets could be unnecessarily fatiguing as well as providing no added benefits.

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