One set to failure works

Posted: 15-May-2002 02:08 AM

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Excerpt: From my past training I knew it worked very well for me Now there's evidence it does indeed work every bit as well as as high volume training. If you have read Dorian Yates book "A warrior's Story" you know he trains the same way too. One all out set after a warmup ---------------------------------------------------- New Studies Answer ...

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Thumbs up One set to failure works - research

Old 15-May-2002, 02:08 AM   #1

From my past training I knew it worked very well for me
Now there's evidence it does indeed work every bit as well as as high volume training.

If you have read Dorian Yates book "A warrior's Story" you know he trains the same way too. One all out set after a warmup


----------------------------------------------------

New Studies Answer Critics

Artie Drechsler's points may help to explain why research on the set question is inconclusive. As my earlier article said, a review of literature by Carpinelli and Otto found that 33 out of 35 strength-training studies showed no significant difference in strength or size gains as a result of doing one set or multiple sets. (Sports Medicine. 25(7): 1998) The two main criticisms of these studies, according to Dr. Carpinelli, are that they were too short, and that the partints were often untrained. The suggestion is that seasoned trainers might benefit from doing more sets.

Dr. Carpinelli now reports in the October 1998 Master Trainer that those "valid criticisms" are addressed in a series of studies by Michael Pollock, M.D., and his colleagues at the University of Florida, and another research group.

Five studies by Dr. Pollock's group were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Four of them address the duration issue; they extend for six months compared to only six to 12 weeks in the earlier studies.

Two of the studies (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5); 116 & 165, 1998) examine strength and size increases as a result of one set or three sets of 8-12 repetitions to muscular failure three days a week. Strength was assessed for both one rep max and reps at 75% of pretraining max, in the bench press, row, arm curl, leg extension and leg curl. Muscle thickness increases were measured by ultrasound in eight locations covering the upper and lower body.

The researchers found almost identical increases in upper and lower body thickness for both the one-set (13.6%) and three-set (13.12%) groups. Increases in one rep maximum were also essentially the same, for all five exercises, but the principle of specificity asserted itself on one exercise when it came to maximum reps or endurance. Both groups showed significant across-the- board increases in endurance, but the 3-set group showed significantly greater improvement in the bench press. At 25 weeks, the one-set group averaged 22 reps in the bench press compared to 27 for those doing 3-sets.

The third 6-month study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S163, 1998) focused on increases in knee-extension strength in three different modes: one-rep max, isometric peak torque and training weight. Again, there was no significant difference between the one-set and three-set groups. One-rep max increased 33.3% and 31.6% for 1 set and 3 sets, respectively; isometric increases were 35.4% versus 32.1%; and training weight increases were 25.6% compared to 14.7%

Even though the researchers apparently didn't find it significant, note that the one-set group gained slightly more strength in the first two modes and substantially more in training weight (25.6% versus 14.7%). It seems to me that specificity is at work again. When you do only one set there's nothing to keep you from doing your absolute best; but when you plan to do three sets it's natural to hold back and pace yourself. I believe that's probably why the one-set group gained more strength. They triggered more muscle fibers than the 3-set group, where pacing probably reduced intensity somewhat.

The fourth study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S274, 1998), also 6 months long, showed significant increases in circulating insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in both one-set (34%) and three-set (30%) groups. Dr. Carpinelli, who teaches the neuromuscular aspects of strength training at Adelphi University (Long Island, New York), says, "IGFs are multifunctional protein hormones, whose production in the liver and other tissues is stimulated by growth hormones." They are important because, "They stimulate glucose and amino acid uptake, protein and DNA synthesis, and growth of bones, cartilage, and soft tissue."

The researchers concluded: "The elevation of IGFs is no greater with high- than low-volume resistance training." That's noteworthy, because it's generally believed that high-set training results in more growth hormone secretion. (See Growth Hormone Synergism by Douglas M. Crist, Ph.D., 2nd Edition, 1991; you'll find this book listed in our Products section under Recommended Books.)

The final study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S115, 1998) addresses the training experience issue. As you'll recall, some have suggested that experienced trainers might benefit from higher volume. In other words, after you've been training for a while, you need increased volume to continue progressing - more is better. According to this study, those people should think anew.

The researchers recruited 40 adults who had been performing one set to muscular fatigue, using nine exercises, for a minimum of one year; average training time was six years. The partints were randomly assigned to either a one-set or three-set group; both groups did 8-12 reps to failure three days per week for 13 weeks.

Both groups significantly increased their one-rep maximum strength and endurance. There was no significant difference in the gains made by the two groups in the leg extension, leg curl, bench press, overhead press and arm curl. The researchers concluded: "These data indicate that 1 set of [resistance training] is equally as beneficial as 3 sets in experienced resistance trained adults."

Another research group, K.L. Ostrowski and colleagues, tested "the effect of weight training volume on hormonal output and muscular size and function" in experienced trainers. (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 11(3): 148-154, 1997) Thirty-five males, with one to four years weight-training experience, were assigned to one of three training groups: one-set, two-sets, or four sets. All partints did what I would call a periodized routine; they changed the rep range every few weeks. They did free-weight exercises four times a week for ten weeks using 12 reps maximum (week 1-4), 7 reps max (week 5-7) and 9 reps (week 8-10). All sets were performed to muscular fatigue with three minutes rest between sets. The only difference between the three programs was the number of sets.

As in the Pollock group studies, no significant differences in results were found. The authors concluded: "...A low volume program ... [one set of each exercise] ... results in increases in muscle size and function similar to programs with two to four times as much volume."

Significantly, regarding hormone output, they concluded: "High volume [four sets of each exercise] may result in a shift in the testosterone/cortisol (anabolic/catabolic) ratio in some individuals, suggesting the possibility of overtraining." In other words, high-volume training not only doesn't produce better results, it may also lead to overtraining.

The Bottom Line

After considering this new evidence, Dr. Ralph Carpinelli sums-up: "The lack of scientific evidence that multiple sets...produce a greater increase in strength or size, in itself, provides a rationale for following a single set training protocol."

That seems to be where we are today based on the latest peer-reviewed scientific evidence. Unless you're training to accomplish a task that must be repeated over and over, there appears to be no good reason for most people to spend hours in the gym doing set after set. Volume training works, as my last article concluded, but in most cases the strength and size gains are no better than result from warming-up and performing one hard set.

The choice is yours.

Last edited by CoolColJ; 15-May-2002 at 02:52 AM.
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Old 15-May-2002, 09:43 AM   #2
Canada
Low volume workouts are good for natural and hard gainers. If you don't know, this training method is called HIT.
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Old 15-May-2002, 11:00 AM   #3
Vatican City State
Of course one set to failure works. For a while. I got some good gains in mass from it, but little in strength, probably because of the neural inhibition caused by going to failure.
I also got a burned out central nervous system and felt exhausted all the time from working out less than 1 hr a week total. I was pretty deconditioned. If I had asked Mike Mentzer he would have told me to work out less. I just stuck with the same routine too long is all.
So, for me, it's a good way to train some of the time, but not all of the time. HIT is a wide ranging discipline, and they don't all stick to one set to failure, just abbreviated, intense workouts. Some people work out HIT 4 times a week and do cardio too.
It's the Heavy Duty dogmatists that I think are barking up the wrong tree.
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Bravo!

Old 15-May-2002, 01:40 PM   #4
United States
Originally posted by Doktor Bollix
Of course one set to failure works. For a while. I got some good gains in mass from it, but little in strength, probably because of the neural inhibition caused by going to failure.
I also got a burned out central nervous system and felt exhausted all the time from working out less than 1 hr a week total. I was pretty deconditioned. If I had asked Mike Mentzer he would have told me to work out less. I just stuck with the same routine too long is all.
So, for me, it's a good way to train some of the time, but not all of the time. HIT is a wide ranging discipline, and they don't all stick to one set to failure, just abbreviated, intense workouts. Some people work out HIT 4 times a week and do cardio too.
It's the Heavy Duty dogmatists that I think are barking up the wrong tree.
Couldn't agree more
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Re: One set to failure works - research

Old 15-May-2002, 02:33 PM   #5
SSAlexSS

Originally posted by CoolColJ
From my past training I knew it worked very well for me
Now there's evidence it does indeed work every bit as well as as high volume training.

If you have read Dorian Yates book "A warrior's Story" you know he trains the same way too. One all out set after a warmup


----------------------------------------------------

New Studies Answer Critics

Artie Drechsler's points may help to explain why research on the set question is inconclusive. As my earlier article said, a review of literature by Carpinelli and Otto found that 33 out of 35 strength-training studies showed no significant difference in strength or size gains as a result of doing one set or multiple sets. (Sports Medicine. 25(7): 1998) The two main criticisms of these studies, according to Dr. Carpinelli, are that they were too short, and that the partints were often untrained. The suggestion is that seasoned trainers might benefit from doing more sets.

Dr. Carpinelli now reports in the October 1998 Master Trainer that those "valid criticisms" are addressed in a series of studies by Michael Pollock, M.D., and his colleagues at the University of Florida, and another research group.

Five studies by Dr. Pollock's group were presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Four of them address the duration issue; they extend for six months compared to only six to 12 weeks in the earlier studies.

Two of the studies (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5); 116 & 165, 1998) examine strength and size increases as a result of one set or three sets of 8-12 repetitions to muscular failure three days a week. Strength was assessed for both one rep max and reps at 75% of pretraining max, in the bench press, row, arm curl, leg extension and leg curl. Muscle thickness increases were measured by ultrasound in eight locations covering the upper and lower body.

The researchers found almost identical increases in upper and lower body thickness for both the one-set (13.6%) and three-set (13.12%) groups. Increases in one rep maximum were also essentially the same, for all five exercises, but the principle of specificity asserted itself on one exercise when it came to maximum reps or endurance. Both groups showed significant across-the- board increases in endurance, but the 3-set group showed significantly greater improvement in the bench press. At 25 weeks, the one-set group averaged 22 reps in the bench press compared to 27 for those doing 3-sets.

The third 6-month study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S163, 1998) focused on increases in knee-extension strength in three different modes: one-rep max, isometric peak torque and training weight. Again, there was no significant difference between the one-set and three-set groups. One-rep max increased 33.3% and 31.6% for 1 set and 3 sets, respectively; isometric increases were 35.4% versus 32.1%; and training weight increases were 25.6% compared to 14.7%

Even though the researchers apparently didn't find it significant, note that the one-set group gained slightly more strength in the first two modes and substantially more in training weight (25.6% versus 14.7%). It seems to me that specificity is at work again. When you do only one set there's nothing to keep you from doing your absolute best; but when you plan to do three sets it's natural to hold back and pace yourself. I believe that's probably why the one-set group gained more strength. They triggered more muscle fibers than the 3-set group, where pacing probably reduced intensity somewhat.

The fourth study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S274, 1998), also 6 months long, showed significant increases in circulating insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) in both one-set (34%) and three-set (30%) groups. Dr. Carpinelli, who teaches the neuromuscular aspects of strength training at Adelphi University (Long Island, New York), says, "IGFs are multifunctional protein hormones, whose production in the liver and other tissues is stimulated by growth hormones." They are important because, "They stimulate glucose and amino acid uptake, protein and DNA synthesis, and growth of bones, cartilage, and soft tissue."

The researchers concluded: "The elevation of IGFs is no greater with high- than low-volume resistance training." That's noteworthy, because it's generally believed that high-set training results in more growth hormone secretion. (See Growth Hormone Synergism by Douglas M. Crist, Ph.D., 2nd Edition, 1991; you'll find this book listed in our Products section under Recommended Books.)

The final study by the Pollock group (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Supplement 30(5): S115, 1998) addresses the training experience issue. As you'll recall, some have suggested that experienced trainers might benefit from higher volume. In other words, after you've been training for a while, you need increased volume to continue progressing - more is better. According to this study, those people should think anew.

The researchers recruited 40 adults who had been performing one set to muscular fatigue, using nine exercises, for a minimum of one year; average training time was six years. The partints were randomly assigned to either a one-set or three-set group; both groups did 8-12 reps to failure three days per week for 13 weeks.

Both groups significantly increased their one-rep maximum strength and endurance. There was no significant difference in the gains made by the two groups in the leg extension, leg curl, bench press, overhead press and arm curl. The researchers concluded: "These data indicate that 1 set of [resistance training] is equally as beneficial as 3 sets in experienced resistance trained adults."

Another research group, K.L. Ostrowski and colleagues, tested "the effect of weight training volume on hormonal output and muscular size and function" in experienced trainers. (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 11(3): 148-154, 1997) Thirty-five males, with one to four years weight-training experience, were assigned to one of three training groups: one-set, two-sets, or four sets. All partints did what I would call a periodized routine; they changed the rep range every few weeks. They did free-weight exercises four times a week for ten weeks using 12 reps maximum (week 1-4), 7 reps max (week 5-7) and 9 reps (week 8-10). All sets were performed to muscular fatigue with three minutes rest between sets. The only difference between the three programs was the number of sets.

As in the Pollock group studies, no significant differences in results were found. The authors concluded: "...A low volume program ... [one set of each exercise] ... results in increases in muscle size and function similar to programs with two to four times as much volume."

Significantly, regarding hormone output, they concluded: "High volume [four sets of each exercise] may result in a shift in the testosterone/cortisol (anabolic/catabolic) ratio in some individuals, suggesting the possibility of overtraining." In other words, high-volume training not only doesn't produce better results, it may also lead to overtraining.

The Bottom Line

After considering this new evidence, Dr. Ralph Carpinelli sums-up: "The lack of scientific evidence that multiple sets...produce a greater increase in strength or size, in itself, provides a rationale for following a single set training protocol."

That seems to be where we are today based on the latest peer-reviewed scientific evidence. Unless you're training to accomplish a task that must be repeated over and over, there appears to be no good reason for most people to spend hours in the gym doing set after set. Volume training works, as my last article concluded, but in most cases the strength and size gains are no better than result from warming-up and performing one hard set.

The choice is yours.

*This is not a flame*


There are too many errors in those reasonings.

1) genetics. No one (other than identical twins) respond to the training in the same way. Maybe those guys had better genes and thus HIT was equivalent to high volume training. The only way to fix this is to make twins workout on different programs and have same nutrition and just see the results.


2nd) Nutrition, how was it? Many people beleive with some evidency that nutrition is more important for size than nitty gritty small details in trainign program. A guy who eats a lot of correct food will gain even on poor program, while best ever trainign program wont do much if you dont have butritents to build more muscle.

3rd) Long term effects. Training to failure, while it certainly works for the begining, creates problems up ahead. Going to failure derails you of your future strength gains due to a host of neurological reasons.

4) Change of program works period. Maybe those guys who did HIT for those experiments were doing high volume work before. Ofcourse they gonna gain lots of muscle/strength , it is all due to change of programs. Those guys who did high volume before and did high volume again for the experiment had a stale period of training and thus lack of definitive and higher gains than HIT group.



5) All the best weightlifters in the world dont go to failure!


I have read that dorians book. Is it really low volume? Dorian trains one exercises to failure, not one set per bodypart. He does up to 5 exercises per bodypart, each with a 1-2warm ups. Seems like 10 sets to me! Also if you look at his trainign (including warm ups) he does like 20+ sets 4 times a week, aint HIT!



Dont train to fail, train to succeed!
 
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Old 15-May-2002, 02:34 PM   #6

1 set to failure compared to 3 sets.... I wouldn't call 3 sets a large volume. I am waiting for studies where they compare one set with some real volume, like 10 * 10 german volume training or SSALEXSS OverTraining (tm)
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Old 15-May-2002, 02:40 PM   #7
SSAlexSS

Originally posted by Vortexx
1 set to failure compared to 3 sets.... I wouldn't call 3 sets a large volume. I am waiting for studies where they compare one set with some real volume, like 10 * 10 german volume training or SSALEXSS OverTraining (tm)
Point is it (high volume) works.

There are 2 ways muscle can increase in size.

1)Sarcoplasmic

2)Sarcomere hypertrophy


While you can gain strength on lower volume of work and gain muscle, to gain other 50% you need to do high volume of work. To pump the muscle and make its energy reserves grow so it could handle higher amount of work.


German volume training works like a miracle because of its high volume, and unlike HIT you dont get negative consequences.
 
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Re: Re: One set to failure works - research

Old 15-May-2002, 02:46 PM   #8

Ok let me address your criticisms in the context of your previous claims:

1) Then why do you keep claiming that 'your' training method is so good?? Surely everybody needs a different program??

2)Advaik changed his diet when he started 'your' program (incidentally he doesn't agree that he uses your program.....his program is the result of his own research) but you still think that his results are due to 'your' training program. Surely you contradicted yourself?

3) And overtraining does not have long term effects that should be borne in mind??

4) So Advaik results might have also been a result of him changing routine......and not 'your' training program??

5) Care to name names?? with evidence?? You never respond when people ask for evidence......why is that??

Originally posted by SSAlexSS



*This is not a flame*


There are too many errors in those reasonings.

1) genetics. No one (other than identical twins) respond to the training in the same way. Maybe those guys had better genes and thus HIT was equivalent to high volume training. The only way to fix this is to make twins workout on different programs and have same nutrition and just see the results.


2nd) Nutrition, how was it? Many people beleive with some evidency that nutrition is more important for size than nitty gritty small details in trainign program. A guy who eats a lot of correct food will gain even on poor program, while best ever trainign program wont do much if you dont have butritents to build more muscle.

3rd) Long term effects. Training to failure, while it certainly works for the begining, creates problems up ahead. Going to failure derails you of your future strength gains due to a host of neurological reasons.

4) Change of program works period. Maybe those guys who did HIT for those experiments were doing high volume work before. Ofcourse they gonna gain lots of muscle/strength , it is all due to change of programs. Those guys who did high volume before and did high volume again for the experiment had a stale period of training and thus lack of definitive and higher gains than HIT group.



5) All the best weightlifters in the world dont go to failure!


I have read that dorians book. Is it really low volume? Dorian trains one exercises to failure, not one set per bodypart. He does up to 5 exercises per bodypart, each with a 1-2warm ups. Seems like 10 sets to me! Also if you look at his trainign (including warm ups) he does like 20+ sets 4 times a week, aint HIT!



Dont train to fail, train to succeed!
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Old 15-May-2002, 06:31 PM   #9

Originally posted by Doktor Bollix
Of course one set to failure works. For a while. I got some good gains in mass from it, but little in strength, probably because of the neural inhibition caused by going to failure.
I also got a burned out central nervous system and felt exhausted all the time from working out less than 1 hr a week total. I was pretty deconditioned. If I had asked Mike Mentzer he would have told me to work out less. I just stuck with the same routine too long is all.
So, for me, it's a good way to train some of the time, but not all of the time. HIT is a wide ranging discipline, and they don't all stick to one set to failure, just abbreviated, intense workouts. Some people work out HIT 4 times a week and do cardio too.
It's the Heavy Duty dogmatists that I think are barking up the wrong tree.
really? For me it was the other way around, I gained more strength than size. relatively speaking that is, I did gain size, but far more strength in comparison. For example, when I was 19 after 12 weeks working out 1 set to failure 3 times a week using 8-10 execises, my poundages used for the reps super slow style (6 secs up and 4 secs down) - chin went from bodyweight to 80lbs, squat went from 50lb to 160lbs, bench went from 100lbs to 190lbs all the while weighing just 70kg (155lbs) at 7% bodyfat (5'9"). And this was after I had been training normally since I was 16 with average results. I'm pretty sure if I had done those reps at normal speed, I'd be using 25% heavier weights. I had to drop my poundages considerable to rep out at 10 seconds per rep for up to 10 reps per set. Good thing is that your form becomes perfect and you never get any injuries or joint pains. Probably due to the fact your tendons and ligaments have enough buffer between their strength and your training poundages.

I never stuck with it though, I gave up doing weights shortly after to play basketball. I wonder how I would have been had I stuck with it till now
Oh well at least I'm back into it now, except I'm doing it explosively this time.

Also even though I was training really slowly then, it sure didn't effect my speed! I was doing amateur boxing and rugby union (winger) then, and my punching speed and sprinting were incredibly quick.
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Old 16-May-2002, 04:56 PM   #10
Cyprus
I can see one set to failure then 2-3 sets near failure...but not just 1 set to failure. Don't see it working for long...

B True
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