Resistance Training for Strength: Effect of Number of Sets and Contraction Speed

School of Physiotherapy, The University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia.
Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise (Impact Factor: 3.98). 09/2005; 37(9):1622-6. DOI: 10.1249/01.mss.0000177583.41245.f8
Source: PubMed


To compare effects on strength in the early phase of resistance training with one or three sets and fast or slow speeds.
A total of 115 healthy, untrained subjects were randomized to a control group or one of four training groups: one set fast (approximately 140 degrees.s(-1)), three sets fast, one set slow (approximately 50 degrees.s(-1)), or three sets slow. All subjects attended training 3 x wk(-1) for 6 wk. Subjects in the training groups performed unilateral elbow flexion contractions with a target six- to eight-repetition maximum load. Control subjects sat at the training bench but did not train. One repetition maximum strength, arm circumference, and biceps skinfold thickness were measured before and after training.
One slow set increased strength by 25% (95% CI 13-36%, P < 0.001). Three sets of training produced greater increases in strength than one set (difference = 23% of initial strength, 95% CI 12-34%, P < 0.001) and fast training resulted in a greater increase in strength than slow training (difference = 11%, 95% CI 0.2-23%, P = 0.046). The interaction between sets and speed was negative (-15%) and of borderline significance (P = 0.052), suggesting there is a benefit of training with three sets or fast speeds, but there is not an additive benefit of training with both.
Three sets of exercise produce twice the strength increase of one set in the early phase of resistance training. Training fast produces greater strength increases than training slow; however, there does not appear to be any additional benefit of training with both three sets and fast contractions.

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Available from: Mark Hancock, Oct 02, 2015
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    • "The large difference in exercise dose may result in different clinical outcomes (Osteras & Torstensen, 2010; Rathleff et al., 2015a). Previous studies suggest that the length of TUT influences the physiological response, and longer TUT is associated with larger physiological response (Burd et al., 2012; Munn et al., 2005; Tran & Docherty, 2006). The optimal TUT may depend on the goal of the exercise and the response of the patients (American College of Sports Medicine, 2009; Carpinelli, Otto & Winnett, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction. Time-under-tension (TUT) reflects time under load during strength training and is a proxy of the total exercise dose during strength training. The purpose of this study was to investigate if young participants are able to reproduce TUT and exercise form after two weeks of unsupervised exercises. Material and Methods. The study was an assessor-blinded intervention study with 29 participants. After an initial instruction, all participants were instructed to perform two weeks of home-based unsupervised shoulder abduction exercises three times per week with an elastic exercise band. The participants were instructed in performing an exercise with a predefined TUT (3 s concentric; 2 s isometric; 3 s eccentric; 2 s break) corresponding to a total of 240 s of TUT during three sets of 10 repetitions. After completing two weeks of unsupervised home exercises, they returned for a follow-up assessment of TUT and exercise form while performing the shoulder abduction exercise. A stretch sensor attached to the elastic band was used to measure TUT at baseline and follow-up. A physiotherapist used a pre-defined clinical observation protocol to determine if participants used the correct exercise form. Results. Fourteen of the 29 participants trained with the instructed TUT at follow-up (predefined target: 240 s ±8%). Thirteen of the 29 participants performed the shoulder abduction exercise with a correct exercise form. Seven of the 29 participants trained with the instructed TUT and exercise form at follow-up. Conclusion. The majority of participants did not use the instructed TUT and exercise form at follow-up after two weeks of unsupervised exercises. These findings emphasize the importance of clear and specific home exercise instructions if participants are to follow the given exercise prescription regarding TUT and exercise form as too many or too few exercise stimuli in relation to the initially prescribed amount of exercise most likely will provide a misinterpretation of the actual effect of any given specific home exercise intervention.
    PeerJ 07/2015; 3(1). DOI:10.7717/peerj.1102 · 2.11 Impact Factor
    • "This investigation has shown that a reduced volume, non-failure resistance training regimen can elicit equivalent gains in strength, muscle activation, and muscle CSA than increased training volume regimen to failure. Rapid muscle activation may be the distinguishing feature that lead to similar adaptive changes in muscle structure and function despite marked differences in resistance training volume (Munn et al., 2005). However, the current research design cannot confirm this outcome particularly for compound multi-joint movements. "
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    ABSTRACT: This investigation sought to determine the effect of resistance training to failure on functional, structural and neural elbow flexor muscle adaptation. Twenty-eight males completed a 4-week familiarization period and were then counterbalanced on the basis of responsiveness across; non-failure rapid shortening (RS; rapid concentric, 2 s eccentric), non-failure stretch-shortening (SSC; rapid concentric, rapid eccentric), and failure control (C, 2 s concentric, 2 s eccentric), for a 12-week unilateral elbow flexor resistance training regimen, 3 × week using 85% of one repetition maximum (1RM). 1RM, maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), and muscle activation (EMGRMS ) of the agonist, antagonist, and stabilizer muscles were assessed before and after the 12-week training period. The average number of repetitions per set was significantly lower in RS 4.2 [confidence interval (CI): 4.2, 4.3] and SSC 4.2 (CI: 4.2, 4.3) compared with C 6.1 (CI: 5.8, 6.4). A significant increase in 1RM (30.5%), MVC (13.3%), CSA (11.4%), and agonist EMGRMS (22.1%) was observed; however, no between-group differences were detected. In contrast, antagonist EMGRMS increased significantly in SSC (40.5%) and C (23.3%), but decreased in RS (13.5%). Similar adaptations across the three resistance training regimen suggest repetition failure is not critical to elicit significant neural and structural changes to skeletal muscle. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 04/2015; DOI:10.1111/sms.12445 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    • "To establish the exercising load used during each trial, participants performed a standard unilateral elbow flexion 1-RM test as previously described (Munn et al., 2005). Briefly, a starting weight was chosen based on participant-estimated strength. "
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    ABSTRACT: Light-load exercise training with blood flow restriction (BFR) increases muscle strength and size. However, the hemodynamics of BFR exercise appear elevated compared with non-BFR exercise. This questions the suitability of BFR in special/clinical populations. Nevertheless, hemodynamics of standard prescription protocols for BFR and traditional heavy-load exercise have not been compared. We investigated the hemodynamics of two common BFR exercise methods and two traditional resistance exercises. Twelve young males completed four unilateral elbow flexion exercise trials in a balanced, randomized crossover design: (a) heavy load [HL; 80% one-repetition maximum (1-RM)]; (b) light load (LL; 20% 1-RM); and two other light-load trials with BFR applied (c) continuously at 80% resting systolic blood pressure (BFR-C) or (d) intermittently at 130% resting systolic blood pressure (BFR-I). Hemodynamics were measured at baseline, during exercise, and for 60-min post-exercise. Exercising heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, and rate-pressure product were significantly greater for HL and BFR-I compared with LL. The magnitude of hemodynamic stress for BFR-C was between that of HL and LL. These data show reduced hemodynamics for continuous low-pressure BFR exercise compared with intermittent high-pressure BFR in young healthy populations. BFR remains a potentially viable method to improve muscle mass and strength in special/clinical populations.
    Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 07/2014; DOI:10.1111/sms.12297 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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