The effects of low-volume resistance training with and without advanced techniques in trained subjects

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2016 Mar;56(3):249-58. Epub 2014 Oct 10.


Background: This study examined low-volume resistance training (RT) in trained participants with and without advanced training methods.

Methods: Trained participants (RT experience 4±3 years) were randomised to groups performing single-set RT: ssRM (N.=21) performing repetitions to self-determined repetition maximum (RM), ssMMF (N.=30) performing repetitions to momentary muscular failure (MMF), and ssRP (N.=28) performing repetitions to self-determined RM using a rest pause (RP) method. Each performed supervised RT twice/week for 10 weeks. Outcomes included maximal isometric strength and body composition using bioelectrical impedance analysis.

Results: The ssRM group did not significantly improve in any outcome. The ssMMF and ssRP groups both significantly improved strength (p < 0.05). Magnitude of changes using effect size (ES) was examined between groups. Strength ES's were considered large for ssMMF (0.91 to 1.57) and ranging small to large for ssRP (0.42 to 1.06). Body composition data revealed significant improvements (P<0.05) in muscle and fat mass and percentages for whole body, upper limbs and trunk for ssMMF, but only upper limbs for ssRP. Body composition ES's ranged moderate to large for ssMMF (0.56 to 1.27) and ranged small to moderate for ssRP (0.28 to 0.52). ssMMF also significantly improved (P<0.05) total abdominal fat and increased intracellular water with moderate ES's (-0.62 and 0.56, respectively).

Conclusions: Training to self-determined RM is not efficacious for trained participants. Training to MMF produces greatest improvements in strength and body composition, however, RP style training does offer some benefit.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Random Allocation
  • Resistance Training / methods*