Effect of resistance training volume on strength and muscle thickness

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Oct;28(10):1311-20. doi: 10.1097/00005768-199610000-00016.


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of different volumes of high-intensity resistance training on isometric torque and muscle thickness. Training was conducted three times per week using one set (low volume, EX-1, N = 18) or three sets (high volume, EX-3, N = 20) of dynamic variable resistance exercise. Ten subjects acted as nontraining controls (CONT). Bilateral knee extension (KEXT) and flexion (KFLEX) exercise was performed to fatigue within 8-12 repetitions for 14 wk. Maximal isometric KEXT and KFLEX torque was tested at 6 degrees, 24 degrees, 42 degrees, 60 degrees, 78 degrees, 96 degrees, and 108 degrees of KFLEX using a MedX (Ocala, FL) KEXT/KFLEX ergometer. The anterior (ANT), lateral (LAT), and posterior (POST) right thigh, the medialis muscle (MED), and the lateralis muscle (LATER) were assessed for thickness by B-mode ultrasound (ULTRA). Both training groups improved torque output at most angles, but there was no difference between EX-1 and EX-3 (P > or = 0.05). ULTRA detected increases in muscle thickness for EX-1 at 60% LAT and 40% and 60% POST. EX-3 increased muscle thickness at the MED, and 40% and 60% POST. In conclusion, one set of high intensity resistance training was as effective as three sets for increasing KEXT and KFLEX isometric torque and muscle thickness in previously untrained adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Knee / anatomy & histology
  • Knee / diagnostic imaging
  • Knee / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Time Factors
  • Torque
  • Ultrasonography