Crescent pyramid and drop-set systems do not promote greater strength gains, muscle hypertrophy, and changes on muscle architecture compared with traditional resistance training in well-trained men

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Feb;117(2):359-369. doi: 10.1007/s00421-016-3529-1. Epub 2017 Jan 27.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to compare the effects of crescent pyramid (CP) and drop-set (DS) systems with traditional resistance training (TRAD) with equalized total training volume (TTV) on maximum dynamic strength (1-RM), muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), pennation angle (PA), and fascicle length (FL).

Methods: Thirty-two volunteers had their legs randomized in a within-subject design in TRAD (3-5 sets of 6-12 repetitions at 75% 1-RM), CP (3-5 sets of 6-15 repetitions at 65-85% 1-RM), and DS (3-5 sets of ~50-75% 1-RM to muscle failure) protocols. Each leg was trained for 12 weeks. Participants had one leg fixed in the TRAD while the contralateral leg performed either CP or DS to allow for TTV equalization.

Results: The CSA increased significantly and similarly for all protocols (TRAD: 7.6%; CP: 7.5%; DS: 7.8%). All protocols showed significant and similar increases in leg press (TRAD = 25.9%; CP = 25.9%; DS = 24.9%) and leg extension 1-RM loads (TRAD = 16.6%; CP = 16.4%; DS = 17.1%). All protocols increased PA (TRAD = 10.6%; CP = 11.0%; DS = 10.3%) and FL (TRAD = 8.9%; CP = 8.9%; DS = 9.1%) similarly.

Conclusion: CP and DS systems do not promote greater gains in strength, muscle hypertrophy and changes in muscle architecture compared to traditional resistance training.

Keywords: Fascicle length; Muscle cross-sectional area; Muscle strength; Pennation angle; Resistance training; Total training volume.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / physiopathology
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods
  • Resistance Training* / methods
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*
  • Young Adult