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Old 09-23-2007, 07:11 PM   #1
thomas beasley
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Default One Set Training

I was looking at a chart on CNN.com about obesity in America , which I found to be very disheartening. But I came across a blurb on ways to improve your fitness, while I do not put much stock into fitness articles from CNN (check out what that person is wearing) it raised my curiosity when I read
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Get the same strength results in 50 to 67 percent less time by doing just 1 set of strength moves. Recently revised strength-training guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend a single set of 8 to 12 strength reps (with enough weight that you can't do any more) instead of 2 or 3 sets. "Research shows that this gives similar results in terms of muscle strength and endurance as multiple sets," says Robert M. Otto, PhD, the guidelines' associate editor and director of Adelphi University's Human Performance Laboratory in Garden City, New York.
I tried to search around the forums but could not find what I was looking for due to a lack of time and finding the right set of key words to search for. More importunately, I knew that the minds here would know something on the issue or have an educated opinion on the matter.
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Old 09-23-2007, 09:32 PM   #2
Daniel Myers
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Arthur Jones was right after all! May he rest in peace.

One set per exercise will definitely work, because if one hard set didn't do anything, how could more than one set?

The key issue is balancing intensity of effort against overall volume. If you're only doing one set, it has to be a pretty dang hard set to stimulate adaptations. This forces you to train close to your limit, which is not always a good thing. Also, this style of training can require real psychological effort -- and not everyone can sustain that for long periods of time.

If you use more volume, you can balance that out with less intensity. For example, doing lots of singles with 70% is not really "hard," but is a very valid method of getting stronger. On the downside, doing a lot of submax volume requires a larger time commitment, and usually requires reducing the number of total exercises in your program. Some people don't like that.

The most productive training is high intensity and high volume, but that's not sustainable over the long term.

For "the average person" with average goals, single set training could definitely meet their needs. But so will any other non-stupid lifting program.

As an aside, I've thought classic HIT-style workouts (like the early Nautilus bulletins) would actually fit into the CrossFit framework. I know, heresy.
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Old 09-24-2007, 06:08 AM   #3
Leo Soubbotine
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Scientific research vs anecdotal evidence?

My vote goes for the latter. Mark Rippetoe explains it very well in Practical Programming by defining Novice, Intremediate and Advanced athletes.

1 set will work for absolute novice, but will fail to produce results for Intermediate/Advanced/Elite athlete by definition of such athletes.
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Old 09-24-2007, 09:25 AM   #4
Robb Wolf
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Originally Posted by Leo Soubbotine View Post
Scientific research vs anecdotal evidence?

My vote goes for the latter. Mark Rippetoe explains it very well in Practical Programming by defining Novice, Intremediate and Advanced athletes.

1 set will work for absolute novice, but will fail to produce results for Intermediate/Advanced/Elite athlete by definition of such athletes.
Exactly Leo. One set training does offer good return on investment for the beginner or as a basic maintenance for someone just staying active and healthy.
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