Effects of Single vs. Multiple Sets of Weight Training: Impact of Volume, Intensity, and Variation

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This study examined the effects of a single set of weight training exercise to failure and 2 multiple-set protocols (not to failure) on the 1-RM parallel squat. Forty-three men were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 weight training protocols emphasizing leg and hip strength: SS = single set to failure of 8–12 reps; MS = 3 × 10 reps; MSV = multiple-set program using a varied set and rep scheme. Relative intensity (% initial 1-RM), intensity (average mass lifted), and volume load (repetitions × mass) differed between groups over 14 weeks. Body mass, body composition, and the 1-RM parallel squat were assessed at baseline and at Weeks 5 and 14. Results showed no significant changes in body mass or body composition. The 1-RM squat increased significantly in all groups. Differences in 1-RM between groups indicate that MS and MSV increased approximately 50% more than SS over the 14 weeks. Results suggest that multiple sets not performed to failure produce superior gains in the 1-RM squat.

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