Multiple Sets Are Superior To Single Sets For Enhancing Muscle Function In Older Adults

Por: D. A. Galvao e D. R. Taaffe.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction
Resistance training is a safe and effective method to enhance muscle strength in older adults; however, it is unclear if
the amount of training undertaken alters the training response. The present study compared two regimens with different
training volumes on muscle function in older adults aged 65-78 years.

Methods
Twenty-eight untrained men and women were randomly assigned to either a single-set (SS, n = 12) or 3-set (MS, n =
16) group for 20 weeks. Subjects trained twice per week and performed the chest press, seated row, triceps extension,
biceps curl, leg press, leg curl and leg extension exercises using machine weights with intensity set at 8 repetitions
maximums (8-RM). Muscle strength was evaluated by 1-RM, and isokinetic (2.11rads.s-1) and isometric strength was
assessed using a Cybex dynamometer. Muscle endurance was measured using 70% of 1-RM for the leg press and chest
press exercises. Body composition was assessed by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA).

Results
The 3-set group had a greater (P < 0.05) improvement in upper body (MS, 35 ± 12%; SS, 19 ± 21%; mean ± SD) and
lower body (MS, 30 ± 12.7%; SS, 19.5 ± 8%) strength compared to the single-set group (Figure 1). In addition,
isometric knee extensor strength was greater (P < 0.05) following the 3-set regimen (MS; 20 ± 16%; SS, 6.2 ± 17.7%).
Lower and upper body muscle endurance (Figure 2) was also greater (P < 0.05) for the 3-set (leg press 60 ± 76%, chest
press 44 ± 43%) than the single-set (leg press 10 ± 42%, chest press 10 ± 34%) group. Both groups improved isokinetic
peak torque (P < 0.05) with no difference between exercise regimens. Lean mass increased in the 3-set group (~1 kg, P
< 0.05) and fat mass decreased (~1 kg, P < 0.05), but not in the single-set group.

Discussion/ Conclusions
These results suggest that 20-week program of resistance exercise that incorporates a 3-set regimen is more effective for
eliciting improvements in muscle strength and muscle endurance in older adults than a single-set regimen. Therefore,
multi-set protocols should be incorporated when maximal strength gains are the primary goal of the exercise regimen.
However, single-set programs also result in substantial improvements in strength, albeit not to the same level as that for
multiple sets, and are recommended when exercise time is limited.

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