QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF SINGLE- VS. MULTIPLE-SET PROGRAMS IN RESISTANCE TRAINING

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study was to examine the existing research on single-set vs. multiple-set resistance training programs. Using the meta-analytic approach, we included studies that met the following criteria in our analysis: (a) at least 6 subjects per group; (b) subject groups consisting of single-set vs. multiple-set resistance training programs; (c) pretest and posttest strength measures; (d) training programs of 6 weeks or more; (e) apparently “healthy” individuals free from orthopedic limitations; and (f) published studies in English-language journals only. Sixteen studies generated 103 effect sizes (ESs) based on a total of 621 subjects, ranging in age from 15–71 years. Across all designs, intervention strategies, and categories, the pretest to posttest ES in muscular strength was (x = 1.4 ± 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.41–3.8; p < 0.001). The results of 2 X 2 analysis of variance revealed simple main effects for age, training status (trained vs. untrained), and research design (p < 0.001). No significant main effects were found for sex, program duration, and set end point. Significant interactions were found for training status and program duration (6–16 weeks vs. 17–40 weeks) and number of sets performed (single vs. multiple). The data indicated that trained individuals performing multiple sets generated significantly greater increases in strength (p < 0.001). For programs with an extended duration, multiple sets were superior to single sets (p < 0.05). This quantitative review indicates that single-set programs for an initial short training period in untrained individuals result in similar strength gains as multiple-set programs. However, as progression occurs and higher gains are desired, multiple-set programs are more effective.

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