Which repetition series model in the resistance training does give best results?

Trening motorycznyIn the resistance training we use dozens of various repetition series models through manipulating volumes (number of repetitions) and intensity (load values).

Researchers from the Brazilian universities in Sao Paulo and Sao Carlos checked what effects in changes to power and hypertrophy as well as internal anatomical structure of muscles will be assured by using three basic models:

– traditional (3-5 series every 6-12 repetitions @ 75% 1RM),
– pyramid – crescent pyramidal (3-5 series every 6-15 repetitions @ 65-85% 1RM), in which the load grew in every other series
– descending – drop-set (3-5 series every 6-15 repetitions @ 75-50% 1RM), in which the subjects started with an exercise with 75% of load 1RM and when were unable to do another full repetition, the load was reduced by 20% and repetitions were done further until the total training load was achieved.

To control the entire process properly and eliminate variables which could have an impact on the result, solely athletic men were chosen for the studies (with at least a 4-year experience in trainings and who could do a sit-down with a load being at least 130% of the body weight), and each of them was assigned one of the legs (in total 16 dominant and 16 non-dominant) for the training with a traditional model, and at random another leg for the training either with pyramid model or descending model.

The training process took 12 weeks (twice a week) and was based on two unilateral resistance exercises: pushing a gantry with a leg at the angle of 45 degrees and straightening a shin with under a load in the sitting position. Since the resistance training effects widely depend on total loads, the assumption was to make total loads (number of repetitions multiplied by load) identical to all 3 load models, and to initial loads were chosen on a case-by-case basis. During the experiment loads were increased by 7% every 3 weeks (every 6 sessions). A care was taken to make sure the subjects do not use any supplements, except for 30 grams of a sweet whey shortly after every training.

Directly before and after the experiment the maximum power (1RM) was analyzed unilaterally in exercises. The same applied to the cross section of the vastus lateralis and selected anatomical parameters of the very muscle (its total length and palmate angle).

The experiment result did not show any substantial differences in any of the measured parameters between 3 types of training intervention, which confirmed the initial hypothesis put forward before the experiment commenced.

Wykres schemat powtórzeń

The maximum power significantly grew in all reports (on average by about 24%), the same happened to the physiological section of the vastus lateralis (on average by about 7,5%). Similarly – there were no substantial differences between the change of muscle palmate angle and its length. The results showed considerable differences in changes to measured parameters in response to training intervention. For example the growth of maximum power between subjects ranged from 5 to 50% and this range was similar in all 3 training reports.

Authors emphasize that it is the first work which compares effects of these three weight training reports and which uses uniform total load for each model. Latest news about better effects arising from drop-set report (descending) may result from the fact that as a rule in practice total training loads increase and they cause emergence of better results, rather than the repetitions series designing model. In conclusion, it was claimed that a specific selection of models must consider individual preferences of the subjects.

“Crescent pyramid and drop-set systems do not promote greater strength gains, muscle hypertrophy, and changes on muscle architecture compared with traditional resistance training in well-trained men.”
Vitor Angleri, Carlos Ugrinowitsch, Cleiton Augusto Libardi
Eur J Appl Physiol
DOI 10.1007/s00421-016-3529-1

Developed by Mariusz Goliński
Rehasport Clinic Motor Skills Trainer