The Study: Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men.
a. Resistance training is the primary means of using exercise to increase muscle mass.
b. Using a formula where a number of repetitions of a given exercise performed in a continuous fashion without a break is called a set we have a method to indicate a given amount of exercise volume when the number of sets and the weight being used are also known.
c. “As compared with single-set routines, acute studies indicate that performing multiple sets augments the phosphorylation of p70S6 kinase and muscle protein synthesis (MPS), suggesting that higher volumes of training are warranted for maximizing the hypertrophic response.”
d. Subjects were 45 university students who had trained with weights for at least one year.
e. The authors used 7 different exercises.
f. They had three different training groups.
g. The low volume group did one set of each exercise per session for three sessions a week, the moderate group did three sets of each exercise per session for three sessions a week and the high volume did five sets of each exercise per session for three sessions a week.
h. Exercise sessions were on nonconsecutive days for 8 weeks.
i. “Sets consisted of 8 to 12 repetitions carried out to the point of momentary concentric failure, that is, the inability to perform another concentric repetition while maintaining proper form.”
j. The subjects were given 90 seconds between sets to rest and that was prolonged to about 2 minutes (an extra 30 seconds) between exercises as they had to change to different equipment.
k. The weight was adjusted by the researchers to keep the repetitions in the desired range.
l. The authors concluded that strength gains were similar for those who did only 13 minute exercise sessions (the low volume group) compared to those who did the higher volume workouts.
m. “Alternatively, we show that increases in muscle hypertrophy follow a dose–response relationship, with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes.” (Remember this refers only to the volumes used in this study.)
Take Home: Resistance exercise three times weekly with only a single set of 8-12 repetitions to momentary failure will produce strength gains nearly equal to routines using up to five sets of 8-12 reps. High volume exercise (more sets) is useful for producing more muscle hypertrophy but does not necessarily yield significantly greater gains in strength.
So what does this article show? If you want to improve strength then not a lot of time per week is required but you need to be consistent or as Nike says “just do it”. But if you want a Steve Reeves body (if you remember who Steve Reeves is then it’s probably too late for you to get that type of body) then you are going to have to put in a lot more work. (Remember not to over work and be sure that you selected your parents carefully to give you a genetic advantage!) I like this article as it tries to carefully define the parameters of the study and I find that to be a big problem in so much of the literature. So for those of you who think muscle strength and/or mass is important to your patients, I recommend you read the full text of this as well as other Schoenfeld studies.
Reviewer: Roger Coleman DC
Editor: Mark R. Payne DC
Reference: Schoenfeld BJ, Contreras B, Krieger J, Grgic J, Delcastillo K, Belliard R, Alto A. Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men.xMed Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jan;51(1):94-103. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001764.
Link to Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30153194
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