Evidence for an Upper Threshold for Resistance Training Volume in Trained Women

Introduction: The purpose of the present study was to compare the effects of different volumes of resistance training (RT) on muscle performance and hypertrophy in trained women. Methods: The study included 40 volunteers that performed RT for 24 weeks divided in to groups that performed five (G5), 10 (G10), 15 (G15) and 20 (G20) sets per muscle group per session. Ten repetition maximum (10RM) tests were performed for the bench press, lat pull down, 45º leg press, and stiff legged deadlift. Muscle thickness (MT) was measured using ultrasound at biceps brachii, triceps brachii, pectoralis major, quadriceps femoris, and gluteus maximus. Results: All groups significantly increased all MT measures and 10RM tests after 24 weeks of RT (p<0.05). Between group comparisons revealed no differences in any 10RM test between G5 and G10 (p>0.05). G5 and G10 showed significantly greater 10RM increases than G15 for lat pulldown, leg press and stiff legged deadlift. 10RM changes for G20 were lower than all other groups for all exercises (p<0.05). G5 and G10 showed significantly greater MT increases than G15 and G20 in all sites (p<0.05). MT increased more in G15 than G20 in all sites (p<0.05). G5 increases were higher than G10 for pectoralis major MT, while G10 showed higher increases in quadriceps MT than G5 (p<0.05). Conclusions: Five to 10 sets per week might be sufficient for attaining gains in muscle size and strength in trained women during a 24-week RT program. There appears no further benefit by performing higher exercise volumes. Since lack of time is a commonly cited barrier to exercise adoption, our data supports RT programs that are less time consuming, which might increase participation and adherence.

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