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  1. #1
    Nursing Student SophieM's Avatar
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    Single vs. Multiple Sets

    I posted this in the female section but wanted to know what you all tought of this as well.

    I'm studying for the ACSM personal trainer certification and I came across this:

    "The preponderance of evidence reports similar responses of muscular strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance between single and multipe sets resistance training programs."

    I couldn't find an article online but did find this:
    http://www.cbass.com/NEWEVIDE.HTM

    What do you all think of this?
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  2. #2
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710652?ordinalpos=&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.P ubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.SmartSearch&log$=citatio nsensor

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15574068?ordinalpos=&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.P ubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.SmartSearch&log$=citatio nsensor

    It is likely that the study that was originally cited was in untrained subjects with a short duration of training. For anyone who has trained for a decent amount of time, one set of an exercise will not likely be a great enough stimulus for hypertrophy and a fairly low stimulus for strength development. You can make the argument of 20 rep squats and such, but I think that is the extreme case here and not what they are describing.

    Now if we are talking one set per day, three times a week, versus three sets, one day per week, I think there have been studies that have proven the single set produces greater results. Whether this is true in the real world with well trained individuals, I am not sure. Different training works for different people.
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  3. #3
    Nursing Student SophieM's Avatar
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    I don't think you read the link I posted. If you did, you would have seen this:

    "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.""

    I'm not about to stop doing multiple sets and go for a single set, but it's still baffling to me.
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    I will lift heavier
    I will get bigger
    I will get stronger

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  4. #4
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    No, I did not read the link you posted because frankly I did not want to take my time to read it when it was not even the source of the citation of the quote. I would think that the failure component may have something to do with the results. I believe that if they did ramped sets, or straight sets that were not to failure, the research might have been more favorable to multiple sets. I do not know anyone who possesses great strength or hypertrophy that performs three sets to failure in every lift for extended periods of time.

    You really have to understand that a lot of these protocols used for training in studies are complete crap. They are usually nothing like what you would see a regular trainee doing in the gym. Not all studies fall into this category, but in a great deal of them I wonder what they were possibly thinking and if they have ever strength trained themselves.

    Originally Posted by SophieM View Post
    I don't think you read the link I posted. If you did, you would have seen this:

    "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.""

    I'm not about to stop doing multiple sets and go for a single set, but it's still baffling to me.
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  5. #5
    Slowly getting bigger!! dkemano42's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SophieM View Post

    What do you all think of this?
    Well I have tried the one set thing once for a couple months, and did not notice much in the way of gains. I did not however lose any strength or size while doing it, but also did not gain. Upon saying that, I did not feel like I was getting a very good workout and I do not believe it stimulated the muscles as much as multiple set routines do. Now I understand that non of that is scientific, but it is what I feel and think about it...which is what you asked <grin>.

    So, to to see how YOU feel about it, try it for a little while and see how you react to it, I always do this to see how different things work or feel to ME so I can explain it better to clients. I would say for folks who are very short on time and want to retain muscle they have, it would maybe work for awhile, but not for very long and not if you are trying to add LBM.

    DK
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  6. #6
    Registered User jkdman81's Avatar
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    Single vs multi sets

    When talking about sets people always get to this discussion which is better single sets or multiple sets....i am a far of both whatever gonna get you in there and motivated to do your thing....
    As far which gets better results.... It's multiple sets!!!!

    Multiple sets have been shown to consistantly get results throughout the long term. Single sets can very effective in the begining, but there has yet been any evidence of any results after the 14 week landmark....
    After that point it is mostly a maintenace program....
    In the first 12-14 weeks of a fitness programs most of the results are caused by neurological factors....
    If you disagree with me please just show me one study that has been conducted over 14 weeks
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  7. #7
    Nursing Student SophieM's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jkdman81 View Post
    In the first 12-14 weeks of a fitness programs most of the results are caused by neurological factors....
    If you disagree with me please just show me one study that has been conducted over 14 weeks
    It's not that I disagree with you, but there have been studies that have gone longer than 14 weeks. I just don't understand HOW they're finding what they're finding.

    Again, from the link I posted:

    "Five studies by Dr. Pollock's group were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Four of them address the duration issue; they extend for six months compared to only six to 12 weeks in the earlier studies.

    Two of the studies (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5); 116 & 165, 1998) examine strength and size increases as a result of one set or three sets of 8-12 repetitions to muscular failure three days a week. Strength was assessed for both one rep max and reps at 75% of pretraining max, in the bench press, row, arm curl, leg extension and leg curl. Muscle thickness increases were measured by ultrasound in eight locations covering the upper and lower body.

    The researchers found almost identical increases in upper and lower body thickness for both the one-set (13.6%) and three-set (13.12%) groups. Increases in one rep maximum were also essentially the same, for all five exercises, but the principle of specificity asserted itself on one exercise when it came to maximum reps or endurance. Both groups showed significant across-the- board increases in endurance, but the 3-set group showed significantly greater improvement in the bench press. At 25 weeks, the one-set group averaged 22 reps in the bench press compared to 27 for those doing 3-sets.

    The third 6-month study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S163, 1998) focused on increases in knee-extension strength in three different modes: one-rep max, isometric peak torque and training weight. Again, there was no significant difference between the one-set and three-set groups. One-rep max increased 33.3% and 31.6% for 1 set and 3 sets, respectively; isometric increases were 35.4% versus 32.1%; and training weight increases were 25.6% compared to 14.7%

    Even though the researchers apparently didn't find it significant, note that the one-set group gained slightly more strength in the first two modes and substantially more in training weight (25.6% versus 14.7%). It seems to me that specificity is at work again. When you do only one set there's nothing to keep you from doing your absolute best; but when you plan to do three sets it's natural to hold back and pace yourself. I believe that's probably why the one-set group gained more strength. They triggered more muscle fibers than the 3-set group, where pacing probably reduced intensity somewhat.

    The fourth study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S274, 1998), also 6 months long, showed significant increases in circulating insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in both one-set (34%) and three-set (30%) groups. Dr. Carpinelli, who teaches the neuromuscular aspects of strength training at Adelphi University (Long Island, New York), says, "IGFs are multifunctional protein hormones, whose production in the liver and other tissues is stimulated by growth hormones." They are important because, "They stimulate glucose and amino acid uptake, protein and DNA synthesis, and growth of bones, cartilage, and soft tissue."

    The researchers concluded: "The elevation of IGFs is no greater with high- than low-volume resistance training." That's noteworthy, because it's generally believed that high-set training results in more growth hormone secretion. (See Growth Hormone Synergism by Douglas M. Crist, Ph.D., 2nd Edition, 1991.
    (Unfortunately this book is no longer in print.)"
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  8. #8
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    Smile Single Vs. Multiple Sets

    It's difficult to give you a pat answer to this question. I've seen both protocols work well. It may be advantagous to cycle the set/ rep combos throughout the year. The other factor worthy of consideration is that for someone new to weight training, their exercise tolerance may be very low, in which case a single set of a few multiple joint exercises may be all that they can handle to make progress. Some do very well with German Volume Training, but this is difficult to continue for very long as is the High Intensity protocol as put forth by Arthur Jones and Mike Mentzer. For most of us the solution lies between the two extremes.

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  9. #9
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    Smile Single Vs. Multiple Sets

    It's difficult to give you a pat answer to this question. I've seen both protocols work well. It may be advantagous to cycle the set/ rep combos throughout the year. The other factor worthy of consideration is that for someone new to weight training, their exercise tolerance may be very low, in which case a single set of a few multiple joint exercises may be all that they can handle to make progress. Some do very well with German Volume Training, but this is difficult to continue for very long as is the High Intensity protocol as put forth by its adherents. For most of us the solution lies between the two extremes.

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  10. #10
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    sINGLE VS MULTI SETS

    i'm not say the research is not correct but the study cited was assessing 1 rep max using 1 and 3 sets. from what i've read,learned and experienced 5 sets of 5 reps is the best for strength protocols!!!! just wondering if that would make any difference

    Also many people when they do single set exercise dont do them with enough intensity
    Arthur Jones did single sets with that kind of intensity but very few people do have the heart to workout at let alone with that kind of intensity
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