Total Number of Sets as a Training Volume Quantification Method for Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review

J Strength Cond Res. 2021 Mar 1;35(3):870-878. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002776.


Baz-Valle, E, Fontes-Villalba, M, and Santos-Concejero, J. Total number of sets as a training volume quantification method for muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review. J Strength Cond Res 35(3): 870-878, 2021-This review aimed to determine whether assessing the total number of sets is a valid method to quantify training volume in the context of hypertrophy training. A literature search on 2 databases (PubMed and Scopus) was conducted on May 18, 2018. After analyzing 2,585 resultant articles, studies were included if they met the following criteria: (a) studies were randomized controlled trials, (b) studies compared the total number of sets, repetition range, or training frequency, (c) interventions lasted at least 6 weeks, (d) subjects had a minimum of 1 year of resistance training experience, (e) subjects' age ranged from 18 to 35 years, (f) studies reported morphologic changes through direct or indirect assessment methods, (g) studies involved subjects with no known medical conditions, and (h) studies were published in peer-reviewed journals. Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria. According to the results of this review, the total number of sets to failure, or near to, seems to be an adequate method to quantify training volume when the repetition range lies between 6 and 20+ if all the other variables are kept constant. This approach requires further development to assess whether specific numbers of sets are key to inducing optimal muscle gains.