Muscle Damage and Muscle Activity Induced by Strength Training Super-Sets in Physically Active Men

J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Jul;31(7):1847-1858. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001511.


Brentano, MA, Umpierre, D, Santos, LP, Lopes, AL, Radaelli, R, Pinto, RS, and Kruel, LFM. Muscle damage and muscle activity induced by strength training super-sets in physically active men. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 1847-1858, 2017-In strength training, muscle activity is often analyzed by surface electromyography (EMG) and muscle damage through indirect markers, such as plasma concentrations of creatine kinase (CK) after exercise. However, there is little information about the influence of the strength exercises order on these parameters. The purpose of this study is to analyze the effect of strength exercises order (super-sets) in muscle activity and indirect markers of muscle damage. Twenty men were randomly assigned to one of the strength training sessions (TS). Each TS (5 sets × 8-10 repetition maximum) consisted of 2 exercises for the knee extensor muscles and 2 exercises for the horizontal shoulder flexors performed in a different order: exercises for the same muscle group grouped (grouped exercises [GE]: n = 10; 26.6 ± 3.4 years; 17.4 ± 3.4 body fat) or separated (separated exercises [SE]: n = 10; 24.9 ± 2.6 years; 15.4 ± 5.9 body fat). Muscle activity was analyzed by surface EMG (vastus lateralis [VL], vastus medialis [VM], rectus femoris [RF], pectoralis major [PM], and anterior deltoid [AD]), and the main indirect marker of muscle damage was the CK, evaluated immediately before and after the first 5 days of each TS. There was a higher EMG activity of GE in the RF (GE: 88.4% × SE: 73.6%) and AD (GE: 176.4% × SE: 100.0%), in addition to greater concentration of CK (GE: 632.4% × SE: 330.5%) after exercise. Our findings suggest that, in physically active men, implementing super-sets with GE promotes greater muscle effort and muscle damage, wherein 5 days are not enough to recover the trained muscle groups.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Shoulder / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Creatine Kinase