Thread: How Many Sets Are Optimal?
11-26-2002, 09:09 AM #1
How Many Sets Are Optimal?
By Bob Myhal
I get the question all the time: how many sets per exercise should I do to develop the most mass possible.
The debate basically boils down to the proponents of volume training—who tend to believe that performing 3-4 grueling sets per exercise is the best way to build strength and mass—and those who prefer the high intensity approach of doing just 1 all out set per exercise.
The shouting match between these two camps has at times almost come to blows. Up to this point, however, the science behind sets has been sketchy at best. The good news is things are beginning to become a bit clearer.
A series of studies by Dr. Michael Pollock at the University of Florida were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Supplement 30(5); 116 & 165, 1998). The studies scientifically compared strength and muscle size increases for those performing 1 set versus those doing higher volume 3 set training. Both groups worked within the 8-12 rep range, and sets were taken to failure.
Each of the individual studies in the series measured different aspects of strength and size gains. Here’s some of the key conclusions:
Component 1 Set Group 3 Set Group
1 Rep Max +33.3% +31.6%
Poundage Increase +25.6% +14.7%
Muscle Thickness +13.6% +13.12%
While the 1 set group did show a significant advantage in one of the protocols, the researchers concluded that overall there wasn’t a statistically significant difference between those using a 1 set to failure program and those following the more traditional 3 sets volume approach.
04-10-2003, 07:22 PM #2
Just a thought.
SO Big D could it be that one set til failure on each excersise per bodypart is sufficent, Even for the natural bodybuilder? Does this mean that H.I.T. training is better than what i hear? Whats your outlook, And experience?
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