The effects of adding single-joint exercises to a multi-joint exercise resistance training program on upper body muscle strength and size in trained men

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Aug;40(8):822-6. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2015-0109.


The aim of this study was compare changes in upper body muscle strength and size in trained men performing resistance training (RT) programs involving multi-joint plus single-joint (MJ+SJ) or only multi-joint (MJ) exercises. Twenty young men with at least 2 years of experience in RT were randomized in 2 groups: MJ+SJ (n = 10; age, 27.7 ± 6.6 years) and MJ (n = 10; age, 29.4 ± 4.6 years). Both groups trained for 8 weeks following a linear periodization model. Measures of elbow flexors and extensors 1-repetition maximum (1RM), flexed arm circumference (FAC), and arm muscle circumference (AMC) were taken pre- and post-training period. Both groups significantly increased 1RM for elbow flexion (4.99% and 6.42% for MJ and MJ+SJ, respectively), extension (10.60% vs 9.79%, for MJ and MJ+SJ, respectively), FAC (1.72% vs 1.45%, for MJ and MJ+SJ, respectively), and AMC (1.33% vs 3.17% for MJ and MJ+SJ, respectively). Comparison between groups revealed no significant difference in any variable. In conclusion, 8 weeks of RT involving MJ or MJ+SJ resulted in similar alterations in muscle strength and size in trained participants. Therefore, the addition of SJ exercises to a RT program involving MJ exercises does not seem to promote additional benefits to trained men, suggesting MJ-only RT to be a time-efficient approach.

Keywords: choix d’exercices; entraînement à la force; exercices isolés; exercise selection; hypertrophie musculaire; isolation exercise; linear periodization; muscle hypertrophy; périodisation linéaire; strength training; training volume; volume d’entraînement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Elbow Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Upper Extremity / physiology*