How Much Is Enough?

The ideal number of sets to keep strength gains up.

 HYPOTHESIS 

It takes very little volume to elicit decent strength gains in novice lifters. However, experienced lifters require higher volume. How much volume is optimal for experienced lifters?

 RESEARCH 

U. of Sydney researchers compared three different volumes of squats using experienced lifters. Group A did one set, group B did four sets, and group C did eight sets. All groups used 80% 1RM for resistance.

 FINDINGS 

All groups showed a significant increase compared with baseline by six weeks. The fourset and eight-set groups showed a significant increase by Week 3. In the end, the eight-set group increased the most.

 CONCLUSION 

In experienced lifters, four sets or less may not be optimal. The study notes that although there is a difference between one and even four sets, eight may not be a one-size-fits-all solution.

 APPLICATION 

Volumes as high as eight sets should be considered useful for advanced lifters. To protect against overtraining, begin by increasing volume for three weeks. If strength is still increasing, you are good to go for at least two more weeks. If strength begins to decline, reduce volume to allow for recovery. – FLEX

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