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Old 03-26-2010, 07:06 PM   #2
BendtheBar
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A recent meta-analysis looked at this very question: which works better to increase muscle size: single sets or multiple sets? A meta-analysis involves looking at previous studies and coming to a conclusion based on the trends shown by past studies. The new analysis compared various set schemes, ranging from one set to six or more sets per exercise.The major finding of the analysis was that multiple sets produce a significantly greater level of muscle size gains compared to doing only a single set per exercise. This held true for both novice and more experienced subjects.There was a also a trend shown in which increased number of sets produced greater muscle gains. Thus, 4 to 6 sets per exercise produced better results compared to doing 2 to 3 sets per exercise. The effect levels off, however, when doing more than 4 sets per exercise. In other words, doing 6 sets rather than 4 won’t produce significantly better muscle gains. I doubt that all the studies analyzed included a true HIT style of training to utter failure. If that had been the case, I believe that the ideal number of sets would be no more than three. Doing one set per exercise is certainly better than nothing, but considering that most of those who think they are using a true HIT style of training are not, then the conclusions of this analysis make sense. Most bodybuilders would be better off doing multiple sets per exercise if added muscle size is their goal.

Krieger JW. Single vs.multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: a meta-analysis.J Strength Cond Res 2010: in press.
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