Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Study Spotlight: 4 sets of 10 or 8 sets of 5?

A common question with resistance training program design usually relates to identifying the optimal set/rep scheme or what kind of rest periods should be used if you are trying to get bigger, stronger and faster.  Researchers out of Texas A&M University sought out to identify an optimal resistance training program for just that.

What did they do?
Researchers had 22 resistance trained males complete a 12 week strength training program designed to elicit muscle hypertrophy.  They split the subjects up into 2 groups: A) Traditional rest (Completed 4 sets of 10); B) and Intraset Rest (Completed 8 sets of 5).  The latter design is a set/rep scheme that is an example of "intraset rests" as they technically are taking a break in between their set of 10. Each group completed the same total volume for each compound exercise (40 reps) and trained at identical intensities during each microcycle (i.e. 65%, 70% and 75% 1RM).  Group A rested for 2 minutes in between sets and group B rested for 1 minute and each workout lasted approximately 60 minutes.  Both groups completed a 4-day training split utilizing a push/pull rotation.

What did they find?
The 8x5 group saw a significantly greater improvement is upper body power and vertical jump height. This group also experienced a greater improvement in back squat power however it was not statistically significant.  The 8x5 group also displayed significantly greater gains in bench press and back squat strength as measured by 1RM testing.  What about changes in lean muscle mass? Both experienced experienced significant improvements in lean muscle with no differences between

The authors concluded that by utilizing an 8x5 (intra-set rest) scheme you are likely to get more powerful AND stronger than traditional 4 x 10 training. The best part is, you also maximize the potential to pack on lean muscle.  SO, you get bigger, stronger and more powerful all just by adjusting your rest periods within each set.  Your workout will take the same amount of time and you can still use the same training loads & volumes.  Moral of the story, switch it up to 8x5 for awhile to maximize your gains in the weight room!

Research Article
Oliver, J. M., Jagim, A. R., Sanchez, A. C., Mardock, M. A., Kelly, K. A., Meredith, H. J., ... & Kreider, R. B. (2013). Greater gains in strength and power with intraset rest intervals in hypertrophic training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research27(11), 3116-3131.

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