Study: 1 set vs 3

Discussion in 'General Training' started by Dood, May 17, 2005.

  1. Dood

    Dood New Member

    "New research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's 2004 meeting found that, over a 2-month period, men who did one set of upper-body weight-lifting exercises had equal strength gains (21 percent) and better fat loss (19 percent versus 10 percent) than those who did three sets."
    "How can you gain strength and lose more fat with a third of the effort? The British researchers believe that the tiring three-set workout may cause exercisers to overcompensate with calories at their next meal.",5778,s1-2-69-242-4720-1,00.html?

    Thought this was interesting.
  2. BoSox

    BoSox New Member

    eh, I don't pay much attention to those studies. Although I appreciate the attempt, it is so hard to control ANYTHING that it generally means very little.
  3. xahrx

    xahrx New Member

    That's really the problem, ain't it? Lack of controls, too little understanding of what needs to be controled.
  4. Dood

    Dood New Member

    Agreed, it was fairly vague and no mention of controls or anything. Maybe the actual study had more details, but there was no link to it that I could find.
  5. Captain Crunch

    Captain Crunch New Member

    Here is a link to a few studies done on this subject.
    People should not be too critical to fast on this idea. I used this same program that they are talking about last year and I increased strength like I never had before.
    I am growing more with HST but that program increased my poundages by huge gains. My strength was increasing so fast I thought I was on a roller coaster it was so exciting. Every workout I was adding on significant weight to all my lifts. Maybe the difference was in the fact that I was not burnt out from lifting 3 sets or more all the time and only the one workset as suggested in the article.
    Something to ponder anyway.
  6. Just to add my .02,

    Let's not confuse this with what has to happen in order to grow muscle, even though some of the studies show one set vs. multiple showed the same CSA increases most of these are short term studies with untrained participants, and as we all know any new trainee will grow on any program. Also let's not forget that the signalling mechanism is dose responsive to a point, and even though peak tension is more of a predictor there is a TTI (time tension integral) dependancy.

    Richard Winnett wrote two very good papers analyzing the ACSM's current stand on Resistance Training. For those who have subscriptions to JEP, read JEP 2004;7(5):10-20 and 2004;7(3):1-60.
  7. Dood

    Dood New Member

    Did you check out the link that crunch provided?

    "The final study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S115, 1998) addresses the training experience issue. As you'll recall, some have suggested that experienced trainers might benefit from higher volume. In other words, after you've been training for a while, you need increased volume to continue progressing - more is better. According to this study, those people should think anew.

    The researchers recruited 40 adults who had been performing one set to muscular fatigue, using nine exercises, for a minimum of one year; average training time was six years. The participants were randomly assigned to either a one-set or three-set group; both groups did 8-12 reps to failure three days per week for 13 weeks.

    Both groups significantly increased their one-rep maximum strength and endurance. There was no significant difference in the gains made by the two groups in the leg extension, leg curl, bench press, overhead press and arm curl. The researchers concluded: "These data indicate that 1 set of [resistance training] is equally as beneficial as 3 sets in experienced resistance trained adults."

    Another research group, K.L. Ostrowski and colleagues, tested "the effect of weight training volume on hormonal output and muscular size and function" in experienced trainers. (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 11(3): 148-154, 1997) Thirty-five males, with one to four years weight-training experience, were assigned to one of three training groups: one-set, two-sets, or four sets. All participants did what I would call a periodized routine; they changed the rep range every few weeks. They did free-weight exercises four times a week for ten weeks using 12 reps maximum (week 1-4), 7 reps max (week 5-7) and 9 reps (week 8-10). All sets were performed to muscular fatigue with three minutes rest between sets. The only difference between the three programs was the number of sets.

    As in the Pollock group studies, no significant differences in results were found. The authors concluded: "...A low volume program ... [one set of each exercise] ... results in increases in muscle size and function similar to programs with two to four times as much volume.""
  8. leegee38

    leegee38 Member

    Isn't one of the key factors here that they had them perform 3 sets of exercise TO FAILURE? I might even regress on a routine like that ...
  9. Rovi

    Rovi New Member

    I usually don't read research from sites that end in dot com, and when I do, I don't take it very seriously.
    I'll stick to reading research from actual journals.

    Not that I'm trying to discredit all research posted on such sites. Just my preference.
  10. Aaron_F

    Aaron_F New Member

    without the actual research, you cannot rely on a 'snippit' to provide anything at all
  11. Captain Crunch

    Captain Crunch New Member


    We all seem to rely on this site for research and training and it is a DOT COM.

    I think we should be able to rely on sites that the ACSM are listing as valued studies. They don't usually supply studies that don't have some validity to them.

    That being said there certainly is more to know from these quick snippits but the main prinicples are there for all to try. As I said before when I tried out these principles from the study I had huge gains in strength. I see more gains in HST in size but not in the strength like I saw with the 1 set technique. Everyone is different though and it may not work for you.

  12. Captain Crunch

    Captain Crunch New Member

    The study also say that they performed the sets to muscular fatigue. Not to failure! If you go to this site you will see some more of the guidelines for some of the workouts and going to failure is not recommended just like it is here on HST.
  13. Dood

    Dood New Member

    I haven't had time to read the papers you sent me, but just a quick glance at one leads me to some confusion as to your position on this issue. It may become clearer when I get a chance read them but this quote seems to point to a single set being as effective as multiple sets in all individuals, regardless of experience:
    "In fact, the
    preponderance of resistance-training studies suggest that simple, low-volume, time-efficient, resistance training
    is just as effective for increasing muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, and endurance—regardless of training
    experience—as are the complex, high-volume, time-consuming protocols that are recommended in the Position Stand."

    Carpinelli, Robert M. Otto, Richard A. Winett. JEPonline 2004;7(3):1-60.
  14. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Go Dood!   [​IMG]

    This is a summary of the recomendations in that paper:

    • Select a mode of exercise that feels comfortable throughout the range of motion. There is very little evidence to support the superiority of free weights or machines for increasing muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
    • Choose a repetition duration that will ensure the maintenance of consistent form throughout the set. One study showed a greater strength benefit from a shorter duration (2s/4s) and one study showed better strength gains as a result of a longer duration (10s/4s), but no study using conventional exercise equipment reports any significant difference in muscular hypertrophy, power, or endurance as a result of manipulating repetition duration.
    • Choose a range of repetitions between three and 15 (e.g., 3-5, 6-8, 8-10, etc.). There is very little evidence to suggest that a specific range of repetitions (e.g., 3-5 versus 8-10) or time-under-load (e.g., 30s versus 90s) significantly impacts the increase in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
    • Perform one set of each exercise. The preponderance of resistance-training studies shows no difference in the gains in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance as a result of performing a greater number of sets.
    • After performing a combination of concentric and eccentric muscle actions, terminate each exercise at the point where the concentric phase of the exercise is becoming difficult, if not impossible, while maintaining good form. There is very little evidence to suggest that going beyond this level of intensity (e.g., supramaximal or accentuated eccentric muscle actions) will further enhance muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
    • Allow enough time between exercises to perform the next exercise in proper form. There is very little evidence to suggest that different rest periods between sets or exercises will significantly affect the gains in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.
    • Depending on individual recovery and response, choose a frequency of 2-3 times/week to stimulate each targeted muscle group. One session a week has been shown to be just as effective as 2-3 times/week for some muscle groups. There is very little evidence to suggest that training a muscle more than 2-3 times/week or that split routines will produce greater gains in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance.

    In reality, progression in resistance training is simply adding enough resistance, which is a consequence of getting stronger—not a requisite—to stay within the desired range of repetitions and maintain a specific degree of effort. This is achieved while maintaining the precise exercise form for each aspect of the chosen protocol. Complex manipulation of any or all of the previously discussed resistance-training variables in an attempt to enhance gains in muscular strength, hypertrophy, power, or endurance in novice, intermediate or advanced trainees is primarily based on unsubstantiated opinions, and lacks sufficient scientific evidence - empirical or theoretical - for support.
  15. Well of Course, ;)

    Heres my point. Very few studies have looked at the TTI and it's effect on the markers of hypertrophy; satellite cell activation, increased phosphorlyation of molecules, enzymatic reactions, and so on. The ones that have, "Effect of contraction frequency on the contractile and noncontractile phases of muscle venous blood flow.", "Skeletal muscle is sensitive to the tension-time integral but not to the rate of change of tension, as assessed by mechanically induced signaling.", show there is a corresponding TTI needed to elicit this signalling. Granted as the load is increased the TTI needed is less, but on the other hand in 2004 Haddad and Adams looked at blocking MAPk's and it's effect on IGF signalling, they showed that MAPK blocking reduced PS through IGF channels. Therefore in my mind it only stands to reason that that MAPK signalling along with IGF signalling has to be involved to maximize hypertrophy, now if MAPK signalling is related to tension and TTI, which according to Martineau and Gardiner it is, then there has to be a certain amount of time that the tension is applied. Could this be one set, sure, but as one either 1. works with submaximal weight or 2. becomes conditioned to working with maximal weight, then I feel TUT (TTI) becomes more important and one set may not be enough. That's all I am saying.

    For example, let's take a very friendly face around these here parts, O&G, he espouses one set, but he also works with several exercises and higher frequency, O&G correct me if I am putting words in your mouth :), now even though he keeps his TUT to one set he is actually increasing beyond that through the overlapping of synergistic muscles with more exercises. Now since this gentleman, which he really is BTW, has been working out for a millenium ;) , and obviously he needs the additional work from his multiple exercise to get the needed TUT to continue to grow.

    Tada, the end.
  16. Dood and O&G,

    The papers by Winnett show or more accurately don't show one important thing, which is the basis of my position. In all the references they cite none, not one, look at the molecular goings on during sets, and any difference between sets. This is my postion, until this type of study is done, the debate over one set or multiple sets will rage on to no conclusion, which has been going on now longer than O&G has been working out . :D

    As I said above is one set enough, in most cases absolutely yes, but as with anything in the human body this is apt to change based on the adaptations that occur.
  17. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dan, you summarized my thinking correctly. Not that I always felt this way though. There was a time when I would do 20 sets per bodypart, one day per week, etc. In retrospect, I think I wasted a lot of family time in the gym with no added benefit.
  18. Good I didn't want to misconstrue your ideas and distort your view to anyone. I have followed your posts since I've been here so I thought I had your ideas (very reasonable and appropriate I might add) fairly well understood.

    High volume once per week, man that got turned upside down back in the late 80's, ala Iron Mike and Aurthur Jones.
    Unfortunately it went from one extreme to the other, volume to intensity. It's odd how the intensity debate still rages, but on the bright side, have you noticed the registered members numbers climbing on this site, we've almost doubled in just over a year, whew. [​IMG]
  19. vicious

    vicious New Member

    I'm probably misreading this, but are you saying that over a period of time, multiple pathways (IGF signalling vs, say, MAPerk1/2) are blocking/competing with each other for optimal signaling?

  20. No, perhaps I wasn't clear, when MAPK signalling (mostly ERK but also S6K1)is blocked with an infusion of PD-098059 (a blocker of MAPK phosphorlyation), even with a coinfusion of IGF-1, protein systhesis is down vs. IGF infusion alone, therefore it's safe to assume that optimal hypertrophy is induced when IGF is available along with MAPKs. Looking at Matineau and Gardiner again we see that peak tension shows the highest phosphorlyation but aggregate tension over time also had a higher mark than rate of tension development.

    But since you mentioned it here's a snippet from
    p38 and Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinases Regulate the Myogenic Program at Multiple Steps
    June 2000, p. 3951–3964 Vol. 20, No. 11


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