How Many Sets Are Needed to Increase Muscle Strength?

How may exercise sets will help you to increase muscle strength?

Over the last few years, researchers have suggested that multiple sets are best to increase muscle strength and mass, compared to single sets. Well, what is the actual number of exercise sets that will help to increase muscle strength? The physiological adaptations of a strength training program can result in increased strength, muscular hypertrophy, and reduced body fat. It has been suggested that multiple sets of exercises are superior to single sets for increasing muscle mass and strength.

A previous study examined the impact of single versus three sets for increasing muscle strength.  For example, one-set of bench press pre-to-post had a reported strength increase of 20 percent, compared to the three-set bench press that resulted in a strength increase of 33 percent. The pre to post leg press strength resulted in a strength increase of 25.4 percent for one set compared with a strength increase of 52.1 percent with three sets. Thus, multiple sets are superior for increases in muscle strength, but the exact number of sets has never been determined.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis, which a collection of studies to examine the impact of many studies on this topic. The researchers measured the effects of low (<5 sets), medium (5-9 sets), and high volumes (>10 sets per week) of strength training on changes in strength as measured in multi-joint and single-joint exercises. The great thing about these studies is that you can collect a significant amount of data based on a specific topic. A total of 9 studies for a total of 223 subjects, the subjects were in their mid 20s. The load or amount of weight used in these studies ranged between 74-85 percent of 1RM, the training frequency ranged from 2-4 times per week, and the duration of training ranged from 8-26 weeks. Most strength protocols recommend that weightlifting percentages be between 70-85 percent for building maximal strength.

At the end of the study, for novice and intermediate male trainees, the findings suggest that medium (5-9 sets), and high volume (>10 sets per week) strength training may lead to larger strength gains than low volume (<5 sets) training. For more experienced individuals, such as advanced and elite trainees, the researchers found that medium and high volume strength training may create greater strength gains compared with low volume. The impact factor for doing medium and large volume was marginally greater than that of medium and large volumes. For well-trained individuals, the use of either medium or high volume strength training may be appropriate. This means roughly anywhere between 5-10 sets per week is all that’s needed for increasing muscle strength. Many lifters in the gym perform much more than 10 sets per week, which means many lifers can probably cut back on their training volume and still make significant gains in the gym.

If you want to get the most from your workout, be sure to use University Proven Bang Master Blaster before exercise for maximal gains in strength and muscle mass.

Krieger JW. Single versus multiple sets of resistance exercise: a meta-regression. J Strength Cond Res. 2009;23(6):1890–901.

Ralston GW, Kilgore L, Wyatt FB, Baker JS. The Effect of Weekly Set Volume on  Strength Gain: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2017 Jul 28. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0762-7.

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