The effect of an upper-body agonist-antagonist resistance training protocol on volume load and efficiency

J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):2632-40. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e3826e.


The objective of this study was to investigate the acute effects on volume load (VL) (load × repetitions) of performing paired set (PS) vs. traditional set (TS) training over 3 consecutive sets. After a familiarization session 16 trained men performed 2 testing protocols using 4 repetition maximum loads: TS (3 sets of bench pull followed by 3 sets of bench press performed in approximately 10 minutes) or PS (3 sets of bench pull and 3 sets of bench press performed in an alternating manner in approximately 10 minutes). Bench pull and bench press VL decreased significantly from set 1 to set 2 and from set 2 to set 3 under both the PS and TS conditions (p < 0.05). Bench pull and bench press VL per set were significantly less under TS as compared to PS over all sets, with the exception of the first set (bench pull set 1) (p < 0.05). Session totals for bench pull and bench press VL were significantly less under TS as compared to PS (p < 0.05). Paired set was determined to be more efficient (VL/time) as compared to TS. The data suggest that a 2-minute rest interval between sets (TS), or a 4-minute rest interval between similar sets (PS), may not be adequate to maintain VL. The data further suggest that PS training may be more effective than TS training in terms of VL maintenance and more efficient. Paired set training would appear to be an efficient method of exercise. Practitioners wishing to maximize work completed per unit of time may be well advised to consider PS training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Upper Extremity / physiology*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*
  • Young Adult