Is Five Sets Best for Weight-Training Programs?

In beginning weight trainers, most studies show that one set is as effective as multiple sets for increasing strength and power. However, this is highly controversial. Critics say that most of these studies were poorly controlled, and didn’t pay close enough attention to the intensity of the training programs. A Brazilian study using untrained young men found that five sets per weight-training exercise was superior to one or three sets in several measures of strength, during a six-month training program. However, at the beginning of the study, the five-set group was markedly stronger than the other groups, even though the test subjects were randomly assigned to training groups. Training studies are notoriously difficult for researchers. In assessing the practical significance of training studies, we must consider factors such as the training levels of the test subjects, unintended bias in the research design and the supervision of the training sessions. (Journal Strength Conditioning Research, Published Online January 2015)

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