Strength Dose-Response Curve
participants experience maximal strength gains training each
muscle group 2 days per week with an average training intensity
of 80% of their 1 RM, or approximately 8 RM. Four sets performed
per muscle group elicited the most gains in both trained
and untrained. Interestingly, only marginal benefits were observed
between 2 and 4 sets per muscle group in trained individuals.
Rhea warns their dose-response curves represent mean training
levels and should not be construed as supporting training at
a particular volume or intensity on
a constant basis. Instead, effective programs should incorporate
varied training doses (volume, frequency, and/or intensity) [particularly
for trained individuals].
Untrained participants (less than 1 year of consistent training)
experience maximal strength gains with an average training intensity
of 60% of their 1 RM or approximately a 12 RM, training each
muscle group 3 days per week. Novices weight training 2 times
per week may make approximately 80% of the strength gains as
compared to training 3 times per week.
Rhea et al (2003) suggested caution when prescribing multiple-set
programs to those who have not been training consistently
for at least 1 year. Adequate time is required to become accustomed
to the stress of resistance exercise and avoid over-stress injuries
in the early phases of training. Novice trainees may also lack
the desire to commit to a training program requiring the additional
time needed to perform multiple sets and thus reduce adherence
to the exercise regimen.
Braith RW, Graves JE, Pollock ML, Leggett SL, Carpenter
DM, Colvin AB (1989). Comparison of 2 vs 3 days/week of variable
resistance training during 10- and 18-week programs. Int J Sports
Rhea MR, Alvar BA, Burkett LN, Ball SD (2003). A meta-analysis
to determine the dose response for strength development. Med
Sci Sports Exerc. 35(3):456-64.
Rest Between Sets
Ahtiainen et. al. compared
2 to 5 minute rest periods in previously strength-trained men.
No significant difference in acute hormonal and neuromuscular
responses or long-term training adaptations in muscle strength
and mass were found.
Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen
K (2005). Short vs. long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic
resistance training: influence on muscle strength, size, and
hormonal adaptations in trained men. J Strength Cond Res.19(3):572-82.
3 minute rests between sets of bench press allowed for more
repetition to be performed than rests of 2 or 1 minute.
Willardson JM, Burkett LN (2006). The effect of rest interval
length on bench press performance with heavy vs. light loads.
J Strength Cond Res. 20(2):396-9.
Squat strength gains were not significantly different between
2 minutes versus 4 minutes rest between sets.
Willardson JM, Burkett LN (2008). The effect of different
rest intervals between sets on volume components and strength
gains. J Strength Cond Res. 22(1):146-52.
activity between sets can improve recovery. In a study conducted
at University of Kansas, subjects completed six sets of squats
(85% 10RM) with 4 minute rest periods between sets. Rest periods
consisted of either sitting quietly (passive recovery) or cycling
at 25% or 50% of VO2max (active recovery). Blood lactate was
significantly lower when cycling at 25% of VO2max compared to
the other two types of rest periods. Following the initial workout,
the 25% VO2 recovery group continued to perform more repetitions
to exhaustion (65% if 10RM) compared to the other two recovery
groups. Also see Dodd
Corder K, Potteiger J , Nau K, Figoni S, Hershberger S
(1998). Effects of active and passive recovery on lactate, RPE,
and performance during resistance training. Medicine and Science
in Sports and Exercise, 30(5), Supplement abstract 194.
Corder KP, Potteiger JA, Nau KL, Figoni SE, Hershberger
SL (2000). Effects of active and passive recovery conditions
on blood lactate, rating of perceived exertion, and performance
during resistance exercise. Journal of Strength and Conditioning
Research, 14: 151-156.
Gentil (2013) found no statistically significant additional
size or strength gains in untrained young men when including
isolated exercises in a
program of compound exercises.
29 untrained young men participated in a 10 week training program
of either only compound exercise (Pulldown and Bench Press) or
a combination of compound and isolated exercises (Pulldown, Bench
Press, Arm Curls, and Triceps Extensions). Muscle size as measured
by ultrasound increased significantly in both groups (Compound
Only 6.5%; Combination 7.04%) as did strength as measured by
peak torque (Compound Only 10.4%; Combination 12.85%) but no
statistically significant differences were seen between groups
for either muscle size or strength.
Gentil P1, Soares SR, Pereira MC, Cunha RR, Martorelli
SS, Martorelli AS, Bottaro M (2013). Effect of adding single-joint
exercises to a multi-joint exercise resistance-training program
on strength and hypertrophy in untrained subjects. Appl Physiol
Nutr Metab. 38(3):341-4.
Making workload alterations (8RM, 6RM, 4RM) every workout
was more effective in eliciting strength gains than doing so
every 4 weeks.
Rhea MR, Ball SD, Phillips WT, Burkett LN (2002). A comparison
of linear and daily undulating periodized programs with equated
volume and intensity for strength. J Strength Cond Res. 16(2):250-5.
Hunter et. al. compared variable resistant training (once-weekly
training at 80%, 65%, and 50% 1RM) versus training 3 times a
week at 80% 1RM in men and women over the age of 60. After 6
months, both groups made similar strength and lean body mass
gains. However, the variable resistant training group reported
lower perceived exertion during a carrying task.
Hunter GR, Wetzstein CJ, McLafferty CL Jr, Zuckerman PA,
Landers KA, Bamman MM (2001). High-resistance versus variable-resistance
training in older adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 33(10):1759-64.
Painter et. al. compared daily undulating periodization (DUP)
versus a block periodization during a 10 week study. Although
no statistically significant differences in strength and rate
of force development were found between the two training groups,
the block periodization group performed less volume of work (35%
less volume load) and consequently greater improvements per volume
load. Based on these training efficiency scores, the authors
concluded that a block training model was more efficient than
a DUP model in producing similar strength gains. The authors
discussed the less work during the tapering period of the block
periodization in contrast to the accumulative fatigue presumably
experienced by subjects using the DUP. It is intersting to note
that both training protocols varied workloads at least nearly
every workout (repetition range variations for DUP and percent
1RM variations for Block Training). Also the Block Training program
included the Power Snatch and volume tapering, whereas the DUP
program included neither for seemingly unexplained reasons.
Painter KB, Haff GG, Ramsey MW, McBride J, Triplett T,
Sands WA, Lamont HS, Stone ME, Stone MH (2012). Strength gains:
block versus daily undulating periodization weight training among
track and field athletes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 7(2):161-9.
See sample programs based on varying workloads: