Strength and body composition: single versus triple set resistance training programmes

Julien S. Baker, Steven M. Cooper, Bruce Davies (Sponsor)

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


When designing optimal strength training programmes there are contrasting and conflicting recommendations regarding the number of weight-lifting sets required to elicit an increase in muscular strength. The prevalent recommendation is to perform multiple sets (at least three) in order to achieve maximal strength gains. The main advocates of multiple set training programmes propose that multiple sets are superior for achieving optimal physiological adaptation, and that single sets are most appropriate for untrained subjects.

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of increasing the volume of weight-training from one to three sets on muscular strength performances and body composition characteristics in a group of male recreational weight-trainers.

Sixteen male weight-trainers volunteered to act as subjects and were random1y assigned to one of two training groups. Supervised weight-training targeting the upper body was conducted three times per week for eight weeks using one set (n = 8) or three sets (n = 8) of six repetitions to fatigue of variable resistance training exercises. Subjects were measured before and after the training intervention for adiposity (sum of seven skinfold thicknesses (mm)) and strength performance (N) using the one repetition maximum method on the bench-press, biceps curl and shoulder press.

Both training groups improved significantly in terms of muscular strength (P < 0.05) with no differences being observed between the one and three set group after the training intervention (P > 0.05). Significant decreases were also observed for adiposity in the one set group (P < 0.05).

In recreational weight-trainers over an eight-week period, one set of high intensity resistance training was as effective as three high intensity sets for increasing the strength of muscle groups in the upper body. The one set protocol also produced significantly greater decreases in adiposity. The implications of these findings are extremely attractive for both the sports and health orientated members of society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S53-S53
Number of pages1
JournalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Issue numberSupplement 5
Publication statusPublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventAmerican College of Sports Medicine Conference 2004 - Indianapolis, United States
Duration: 2 Jun 20045 Jun 2004


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