Effects of different intensities of resistance training with equated volume load on muscle strength and hypertrophy

Eur J Sport Sci. 2018 Jul;18(6):772-780. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2018.1450898. Epub 2018 Mar 22.


The present study investigated the effects of different intensities of resistance training (RT) on elbow flexion and leg press one-repetition maximum (1RM) and muscle cross-sectional area (CSA). Thirty men volunteered to participate in an RT programme, performed twice a week for 12 weeks. The study employed a within-subject design, in which one leg and arm trained at 20% 1RM (G20) and the contralateral limb was randomly assigned to one of the three conditions: 40% (G40); 60% (G60), and 80% 1RM (G80). The G20 started RT session with three sets to failure. After G20 training, the number of sets was adjusted for the other contralateral limb conditions with volume-matched. CSA and 1RM were assessed at pre, post-6 weeks, and post-12 weeks. There was time effect for CSA for the vastus lateralis (VL) (8.9%, 20.5%, 20.4%, and 19.5%) and elbow flexors (EF) (11.4%, 25.3%, 25.1%, and 25%) in G20, G40, G60, and G80, respectively (p > .05). G80 showed higher CSA than G20 for VL (19.5% vs. 8.9%) and EF (25% vs. 11.4%) at post-12 weeks (p < .05). There was time effect for elbow flexion and unilateral leg press strength for all groups post-12 weeks (p < .05). However, the magnitude of increase was higher in G60 and G80. In conclusion, when low to high intensities of RT are performed with volume-matched, all intensities were effective for increasing muscle strength and size; however, 20% 1RM was suboptimal in this regard, and only the heavier RT intensity (80% 1RM) was shown superior for increasing strength and CSA compared to low intensities.

Keywords: Low-load; high-load; muscle size; volume of training.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / growth & development*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Young Adult