Study analyses


 

Cluster sets and rest-pause studies

[Longitudinal] Fatigue contributes to the strength training stimulus (Rooney et al., 1994)(FT) [Brandon]

  • Was volume matched? No. Intensity matched
Quality
(1-5 stars)
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Usefulness &
applicability
Type RCT
Subjects N= 42 / Untrained / 18 male + 24 females / age range = 18 – 35 years
Power analysis None
Sampling method Convenience sample
Duration Familiarization period =  0 weeks
Intervention period =  6 weeks
Methodology
  • Groups: Subjects stratified according to 1RM

No-Rest (NR) n =1×6-10 @ 6RM
Rest ( R) n = 1×6-10 @ 6RM, 30s rest between each lift.
Control (C)  n = No training

  • Exercises: Elbow flexion (curl)
  • Training sessions per week: 3
  • Sets per exercise: 1
  • Rest between sets: 0 minutes
  • Intensity/reps: 6RM
  • Failure: unsure, not mentioned
  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: NA
  • Strength measurement: 1RM (dynamic) + isometric testing
  • Supplement: NA
  • Diet / energy balance: NA
  • Statistical analyses:
    Data are presented as mean±SD
    Confidence intervals not shown.
    ANOCOVA + bonferroni post-hoc
Results
  • Diet: Not measured
  • Power: NA
  • Hypertrophy: NA
  • Strength:

All three groups experienced a mean increase in 1RM over 6-wk training period. The NR group increased 1RM by 7kg (56% ± 6.8%), rest group (41.2% ± 6.6%) and control group by 2.5kg (19.7% ± 6.6%). Post-hoc analysis revealed significant greater mean increase in the NR group than R and CON group and the R group had a significantly greater increase in 1RM than the CON group.
Isometric strength increases were smaller than 1RM but similar trends. NR group increased isometric strength by 6.6kg (22.1% ± 4.3%), R group by 6kg (19.8% ± 4.1%) and control group increased by 2kg (6.7% ± 4.1%). Post-hoc showed both NR and R group experienced significantly greater mean increases in isometric strength than CON. No difference between NR and R.

  • Muscle endurance: Acute fatigue test in a single bout of training independent of first experiment and mention in the discussion “ subjects in the NR group experienced on average about twice the isometric fatigue as the R group.
The researchers’conclusions “Major finding of this study was that subjects who trained by repeatedly lifting the training weight without resting experienced substantially greater increases in strength than subjects who trained with rests between lifts. This indicates that, if short-term training programs for untrained are to be optimally effective, subjects should be permitted to rest between contractions”
“In conclusion, the findings of this study indicate the strength increases associated with short-term dynamic strength training programs will be greater if subjects are not permitted to rest between contractions. This suggests that processes associated with fatigue contribute to the stimulus by which training induces increases in strength.”
Brandon’s comments I’m not even sure about this study. They only did one set and didn’t measure volume. Considering the year (1994) it is interesting but may not translate to general population well. The control group likely made increases in strength measures due to familiarization since they weren’t training at all.
Limitations/
COI
No table of demographics for study population. Very little overall numbers and/or data.

  • Not volume matched

 

 

[Longitudinal] Fatigue is not a necessary stimulus for strength gains during resistance training (Folland et al., 2002) [Brandon]

Quality
(1-5 stars)
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Usefulness &
applicability
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Type Intervention
Subjects N= 23 / Recreationally active, no history of leg strength training / Male & Female  / Range = 18-29 years.
Power analysis NA
Sampling method Convenience sample
Duration Familiarization period =  0 weeks
Intervention period =  9 weeks
Methodology
  • Groups:

High Fatigue  (HF) n= 8 male, 4 female 4×10 @ 75% 1RM. 30 seconds between sets
Low Fatigue (LF) n= 7 male, 4 female1×40 @ 75% 1RM. 30 seconds between reps

  • Exercises: Bilateral Leg extension
  • Training sessions per week: 3
  • Sets per exercise: variable
  • Rest between sets: variable
  • Intensity/reps: 75% 1RM
  • Failure: No
  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: NA
  • Strength measurement: 1RM / isometric strength, torque
  • Supplement: NA
  • Diet / energy balance: NA
  • Statistical analyses:
    Data are presented as mean±SE.
    Confidence intervals not shown.
    ANOVA for strength / T-test for group differences
Results
  • Diet: NA
  • Power: Angle-torque improved significantly post training (P<.05), but no group differences. Torque-velocity was significantly increased at most velocities, but no group differences.
  • Hypertrophy: NA
  • Strength: 1RM increased significantly (p<.05) for both groups by ~40%. No between group differences at 4.5 or 9 after 9 weeks of training. Isometric strength increased faster in HF group ( 50% + at 4.5 weeks) but by the end of training there were no group differences.
  • Muscle endurance: NA
The researchers’conclusions “The HF and LF training protocols produced similar gains in strength for all of the strength measures (1RM, isometric strength, and isokinetic strength) after 4.5 and nine weeks of training. HF training increased isometric strength rapidly in the first half of the study, but this rate of increase was not sustained. The LF group gained strength more steadily throughout the whole study. Diminishing returns following a rapid initial rise in strength have been widely observed in high resistance training regimens of 8–20 weeks,15 and this was also the case for both groups in this investigation. “
Take home: “ Strength training does not need to involve severe discomfort and fatigue to produce significant gains in strength. Effective strength training can be performed with large rest periods, which minimise fatigue and discomfort.” “Our observations suggest that high fatigue is not an essen- tial or primary stimulus for gains in strength. Low fatigue strength training designed to minimise metabolite accumula- tion produced significant increases in strength that were of a similar magnitude to training designed to maximise fatigue/ metabolite accumulation. This suggests that significant and comparable strength gains can be achieved with training that involves a low level of discomfort and physical effort. This finding is contrary to two longer studies by Rutherford and colleagues, who found metabolite accumulation to be of significant benefit to strength gains,6 10 although a six month study by the same group, using a protocol identical with that of one of the previous investigations, found no advantage to high metabolite accumulation.12 “
Brandon’s comments HF increased strength a lot faster than LF, but they were roughly equal in the end. MRV vs MEV? possibly.
Accumulation of metabolites/fatigue is not necessary for strength training. Does this mean metabolic stress plays less of a role in hypertrophy?
Limitations/
COI
Not very applicable to the general population.
Added by Adam:

  • No SD
  • Normal group also did drop-sets

 

 

[Longitudinal] The effect of continuous repetition training and intra-set rest training on bench press strength and power (Lawton et al., 2004)(FT) [Brandon]

Quality
(1-5 stars)
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Usefulness &
applicability
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Type RCT
Subjects N= 26 / athletes with > 6 months training / male / Mean age basketball players =  18 ± .03 years, mean age soccer players = 17.4 ± .05
Power analysis NA
Sampling method Convenience sample – 26 male junior elite basketball and soccer players.
Duration Familiarization period =  weeks
Intervention period =  weeks
Methodology
  • Groups: Volume equated! Time equated! (13 mins 20 seconds)

Continuous Repetition (CR) (n=) 4x6repsIntra-set  rest (ISR) (n=) 8x3reps

  • Lower/Upper body unilateral / machine / full-body training
  • Exercises:
  • Training sessions per week:
  • Sets per exercise:
  • Rest between sets: minutes
  • Intensity/reps: RM
  • Failure:
  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: MRI (CSA) / DXA (FFM) / Bod Pod / BIA / Biopsy
  • Strength measurement: 1RM / isometric testing
  • Supplement:
  • Diet / energy balance:
  • Statistical analyses:
    Data are presented as mean±SD/ mean±SE.
    Confidence intervals shown/not shown.
    ANOVA/T-test
Results
  • Diet:
  • Power: Bench press throws at loads of 20, 30, and 40kg.
  • Hypertrophy:
  • Strength:
  • Muscle endurance:
  • Technique:
The researchers’conclusions
Adam’s/
Israel’s/
Andrew’s comments
Limitations/
COI
Addition by Adam:

  • Traditional group used higher intensities & went to failure
  • Unclear how volume was matched, since both groups did same number of reps, but traditional group used higher intensities
  • No absolute numbers reported

 

 

[Longitudinal] The impact of metabolic stress on hormonal responses and muscular adaptations (Goto et al., 2005) (FT) [Brandon]

  • Intraset rest group was probably understimulated compared to traditional
  • Was volume matched? If yes, how?
Quality
(1-5 stars)
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Usefulness &
applicability
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Type Intervention
Subjects N= 26 / experience with RT but not currently training / Male / Mean age = 22.7 ± 0.5 years
Power analysis NA
Sampling method Convenience sample
Duration Familiarization period =  1 weeks (first week, only one day of training)
Intervention period =  11 weeks (2x week training)
Methodology
  • Groups: 3

Control (n=8) No-rest regimen (NR) (n=9) inter-set period of 1 min3-5 sets x 10 reps at 10RM
With-rest regimen (WR) (n=9) inter-set 1min, 30sec rest at midpoint of set.3-5 sets x 10 reps at 10RM
Control groupno training, retested after 12 weeks

  • Exercises: Lat pulldown, shoulder press, bilateral knee extension
  • Training sessions per week: 2x week, 23 total.
  • Sets per exercise: 3-5
  • Rest between sets: 1 minutes
  • Intensity/reps: 10RM
  • Failure: weight adjusted after first week for subjects to hit 10RM each set
  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: MRI (CSA) / Body composition
  • Strength measurement: 1RM / isometric & isokinetic testing
  • Endurance measure: reps completed at 70% 1RM
  • Diet / energy balance: Not measured
  • Statistical analyses:
    Data are presented as mean±SE.
    Confidence intervals not shown.
    2-Way ANOVA with repeated measures. Tukey’s HSD Post hoc

For % change measures: 1-Way ANOVA then Tukey’s HSD post hoc

Results
  • Diet: Not mentioned
  • Power: The NR group showed significant increases in isometric and isokinetic strengths at almost all velocities examined, whereas no significant changes were observed in the WR and CON groups. When compared between groups, isometric strength showed a significantly greater increase in the NR group (19.1 ± 3.1%) than in the WR (7.2 ± 3.2%) and CON (1.5 ± 1.0%) groups.
  • Hypertrophy: The CSA in both the NR (12.9 ± 1.3%) and WR (4.0 ± 1.2%) groups significantly increased after the training period, and the change in CSA was significantly larger in the NR group than in the WR group (P < 0.01).
  • Strength: 1RM shoulder & leg extension strength significantly increased post-training. No sig differences between NR and WR except in % change of 1RM knee extension (NR = ~63% increase, WR = ~38% increase) . Which heavily favored NR.
  • Muscle endurance: Significant difference (NR = ~42%, WR = ~8%) at 70% 1RM after the training period.  
  • Volume: No sig difference in shoulder press volume (NR v WR)
The researchers’conclusions “..our study included only three upper- and lower-limb exercises, for the reason that the subjects were unable to adhere strictly to a whole-body exercise regimen with a greater work volume and metabolic stress at the beginning of the training period..”
“This study showed that a NR regimen caused larger elevations of blood LA, GH, and NE concentrations than a WR regimen. In addition, training with NR regimen caused much larger increases in muscle CSA and strength than with the WR regimen, although both regimens had the same relative intensity and volume. As these regimens were designed to induce different metabolic responses, the specific adaptations in these regimens may be related to differences in exercise-induced metabolic stress.“ “The reason for this is unclear, but previous studies have suggested that upper-limb muscles have a greater trainability than lower-limb muscles that are more involved in daily physical activities (1). Therefore, a considerable improvement in muscular endurance of the upper limb might take place even after the WR regimen with intraset rest period.”
“The percent changes in 1RM and maximal isometric strength were significantly greater in the NR group than in the WR group (Figs. 4 and 5). In addition, maximal isokinetic strength improved at almost all angular velocities in the NR group, but not in the WR and CON groups (Fig. 5). “
“The present NR regimen caused an increase of approximately 13% in muscle CSA, whereas the WR regimen had no such effect (Fig. 3). “
Brandon’s comments This study was designed to determine the acute metabolic effects and hormonal response of training in two groups. However, they did find some chronic changes in 1RM and hypertrophy.
The NR group recomped, gaining ~0.8kg body mass while losing ~2% BF. Therefore, the NR group was probably in a slight deficit. Were the groups normalized/matched for strength? No, but there were no differences at baseline.
Limitations/
COI
1RM exceeded the equipped weight of the machine for some subjects. They tried to fix this by saying the ICC was .90 in a subset of individuals who could complete 1RM. However, they never mention how far above the machine weight subjects went. From experience, some people can rep their 85% 1RM 6 times while others can do 10.
In table 3 the control group gained roughly the same amount of muscular endurance as the WR group (based on reps @ 70% 1RM) even though they weren’t training. But the NR  group increased muscular endurance by ~50% over the other two groups! Very odd.
Addition by Adam:

  • CS group added 30s rest in the middle of every set. Everything else was identical. This would make the set easier for them.

 

 

[Longitudinal] Does Cluster Loading Enhance Lower Body Power Development in Preseason Preparation of Elite Rugby Union Players? (Hansen et al., 2011b) [Adam to fill out chart]

 

 

[Longitudinal] Greater gains in strength and power with intraset rest intervals in hypertrophic training (Oliver et al., 2013) (FT) [Adam to fill out chart]

 

 

[Longitudinal] Inter-repetition rest training and traditional set configuration produce similar strength gains without cortical adaptations (Iglesias-Soler et al., 2015) [Brandon]

Quality
(1-5 stars)
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Usefulness &
applicability
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Type RCT
Subjects N=13 (6f, 7m) / Trained >6mo  / Mean age = 22.5 ± 2.6 years
Duration Familiarization = 2 sessionsIntervention period =  5 weeks
Summary of methods, design, etc. Two orientation sessions were performed by each participant
Main experiment:For every participant, each leg was randomly assigned to either:Traditional Training (TT): 4×8 of 10RM w/ 3mins between setsInter-repetition Training (IRT): 1×32 of 10RM w/ 17.4s between repsGroups equated for Work:Rest Ratio
Outcome Measures:RFD was calculated as the average slope of the force–time (Δforce/ Δtime) curve over time intervals of 0–50, 50–100, 100–150 ms, and relative to the onset of contraction. Time to task failure. 50% of initial MVC with each leg until failure. MVC. Thigh girth: measured at midpoint of both legs, measured to nearest .1cm and corrected for subcutaneous adipose tissue. Corrected girth = thigh girth – (π x thigh skinfold)7 site Skinfold & BMIMax mean propulsive velocity (MMP): used a linear velocity transducer w/ computer. See (Sanchez-Medina 2011 et al. for validity) Complementary experiment:N=12 (3f, 9M) same groups, 5 weeks durationSimilar to main experiment, but each group only trained one leg with one type of training configuration. Outcomes: 1RM, max mean propulsive power and total concentric work, MVC and time to failure (50% MVC). Done to quantify the magnitude of cross education, % change was obtained for each group variable.Complementary experiment main result = significant effect of time for MVC and max mean propulsive power in the non-trained leg, supporting existence of cross education phenomenon.
Results
  • Diet: Not mentioned, slight limitation if protein intake is diff
  • Power: No diff in rate of force development (RFD) between groups, but significant time effect. Estimated changes in maximum mean propulsive power from graph, significant time effect but no differences between groups post hoc.
  • Hypertrophy: Significant difference indicating larger thigh girth after training for both groups (P=.002, time effect), no between group differences.

Baseline = 47.7 ± 4.4 inter-repetition rest (IRT) and 47.7 ± 4.7cm for traditional training (TT) Post training = 49.1 ± 4.2 for IRT and 49.3 ± 4.4cm for TT

  • Strength: 1RM significant time effect, but no sig difference between groups. Very similar effect size TT = .607, IRT = 0.725
  • Muscle endurance: No group differences, but MVC and time to task failure (50% MVC) both improved after training (time effect).
  • Technique: Significant increase (P<.001) in total volume after training and similar volume load between groups (p=.24) [Volume relatively equated TT = 14622, IRT= 14191]
  • RPE: OMNI scale. Significant difference, TT = 8.3 ± 0.9, IRT = 6.6 ± 1.6
The researchers’conclusions Functional improvements were similar across protocols although differences were observed for central (voluntary) activation and peripheral (Mmax) neuromuscular adaptations. IRT induced similar improvements in muscular performance as TT, but with higher mechanical performance and lower perception of effort. Neural changes did not correlate with strength increases.
“Dynamic and isometric performance improved similarly after both training conditions suggesting that when volume and work-to-rest ratio are equated, strength and muscular endurance gains are nearly the same.”
“The present work demonstrates that inter-repetition rest training is as effective in improving muscle performance as traditional training, at least after a short period of training.”
Brandon’s comments Are lower limbs less sensitive to different set configurations? Possibly, there are differences in upper body in respect to some training variables (i.e., volume). Strength increases may be due to mechanisms other than increase in voluntary drive to the muscle.
Very reductionist, not much application to main movements but still a very well designed study.
Ran separate experiment to determine if cross-education occurred. It did, but no difference between the two training groups compared to a control leg. There could be some cross education interference that masked the between group differences, but probably not. This study would probably still show no differences between groups if taken longer, or with a higher n because the data was very tight and they used trained subjects. Volume equated basically holds true for hypertrophy here, but I dislike their “corrected muscle thigh girth” measure – something like MRI/Ultrasound/DXA would be better.
To extrapolate/speculate a bit: Since RPE was lower for the ITR group, it could possibly lead to higher work rate/load if done for a complete workout though the differences may wash out with more exercises.
I didn’t mention/cover the central/peripheral changes in my review even though there some differences because it’s beyond the scope of the article (imo), but if needed let me know.
Limitations/
COI
Some post hoc comparisons done with t-tests. Had some non-normal data, which was corrected for via logarithmic transformations. No tracking or mention of diet, which may not have an effect anyway but would still be good to know.
Skin-fold and BMI: no absolute value were used but authors mention no group or time effect.
They were trying very hard to find some significant between group effects. Ultimately, they focused on the central and peripheral changes that occurred noted by the post hoc analysis showing a significant voluntary activation (MVC) decrease in ITR group after training (from 96.5 ± 3.3% to 91.4 ± 4.4%; P = 0.002).  
[Adam added:]

  • 1RM and maximum propulsive power numbers not stated as absolute values. Estimated by BR for table
  • Unilateral leg exercise (not very good ecological validity) but great for reducing biological variability [BR]

 

 

[Longitudinal] The impact of repetition mechanics on the adaptations resulting from strength-, hypertrophy and cluster-type resistance training (Nicholson et al., 2016b) [Brandon]

Quality
(1-5 stars)
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Usefulness &
applicability
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Type Intervention
Subjects N = 34 Trained (>12 months) / Male / Mean age = 21.76 ± 2.60 years. Inclusion criteria = BW squat x8reps
Duration Familiarization = 2 weeks (3x week upper/lower/trunk/abdomen)Intervention period =  6 weeks
Summary of methods, design, etc. Subjects matched to 1RM then assigned to:
Strength (n = 11) 4×6 @85% 1RM. 5 min inter-set rest
Hypertrophy (n = 11) 5×10@70% 1RM. 1.5min inter-set rest
Cluster 1 [CL-1] (n = 12) 4×6/1 @ 85% 1RM. 25s inter-rep rest, 5min inter-set rest
Cluster 2 [CL-2] (n=12) 4×6/1 @ 90% 1RM. 25s inter-rep rest, 5 min inter-set rest*6/1 denotes six repetitions performed as singles
Primary outcome = chronic effects of back squats performed 2x week for 6-weeks. Tested: dynamic (1RM), isometric, isokinetic, sEMG and power.
RPE & RPS (rating of perceived soreness) measured.
Results
  • Diet: Maintained habitual diet. Recorded via 3-day dietary recall at mid-point of study. No significant differences between groups.
  • Power: All four groups showed significant improvement with rate of force development, but no sig diffs between training groups.
  • Isokinetic measures showed significant interaction at 30degrees/s with further analysis revealing significant improvements for STR, CL-1, and CL-2. Improvements for the CL-2 group were significantly greater than those for the HYP group and CL-1.
  • All four groups increased jump height and power output with a significant time effect yet there were no differences between groups.
  • Hypertrophy: No significant changes in body mass from pre to post-training for any group. LBM or hypertrophy not measured otherwise.
  • Strength: All groups significantly improved 1RM Back squat. STR group showed large effect compared to HYP. CL-2 and CL-1 were similar, but the CL-2 demonstrated larger effect than CL-1 for absolute 1RM.
  • RPE/RPS: Mean RPE for HYP group (7.62) was significantly greater than CL-1 (5.99). Mean RPS ranged from 1.91 to 3.61, with no statistical differences at any point during the training.
  • Load/Volume: STR, CL-1 and CL-2 trained at significantly higher percentage of 1RM (as designed) compared to HYP, while the CL-2 group trained at a significantly greater %1RM than STR and CL-1. Total volume normalized to body mass was significantly higher in HYP group than in STR and CL-1 group.  
  • Rep quality: STR and HYP elicited sig increases in concentric TUT and concentric impulse associated with each rep. STR and HYP also had significant reductions in average concentric vertical force during each rep in all sets.
  • Rest: STR (900 seconds total), HYP (360s total), CL-1 (1400s total), CL-2 (1400s total)
The researchers’conclusions “Our findings demonstrate that both types of CL training do not offer clear benefits for the development of maximal dynamic strength over STR regimens following 6-week period. STR group did improve over HYP group though. “
“The elevation of total resting time offered no significant benefits for max strength development which is consistent with previous research….CL regimens equated by volume load… presented by this study is that CL regimens which permit higher volume loads offer no benefits over STR regimens for the development of maximal strength”
“The greatest 1RM improvements occurred in the STR and CL-2 regimens which were characterized by greater peak mechanical responses… these findings, therefore, support the need to optimize the mechanics associated with each individual repetition when strength development is the training goal.”
“…the findings suggest that CL regimens provide an effective means of increasing maximum strength with lower levels of perceived exertion which may have implications for training adherence, motivation and the avoidance of overtraining. “
“…there was no evidence to suggest that the STR or CL regimens resulted in greater neural stimuli despite the fact that the elevation of velocity (Linnamo et al. 2000) and load (Hakkinen et al. 1987) has been previously linked to increased neural contributions. In this respect, the present findings are in agreement with previous research (Iglesias-Soler et al. 2015) which has not observed differences in neural adaptations between traditional and CL regimens even using more clinical techniques (interpolated twitch technique).”
Brandon’s comments Highly trained subjects. Male + a year of training  + 8x BW squat requirement.
Subjects self-reported 1 upper body lifting session per week. Probably wouldn’t make a difference if they skipped/adjusted since no outcomes were upper-body.
Could be potential for cluster sets to reduce RPE allowing for more overall volume or intensity?
Total rest per group isn’t equated, but that’s where ecological validity comes in.
Specificity of training for the 1RM was closer in the CL-2 set, which is likely why they made improvement compared to CL-1.
Efficacy based on effect size = STR (1.1), CL-1 (.81), CL-1 (.69), HYP (.45). Similar results after normalization to body mass.
Efficacy based on pre-post % change = CL-2 (13%), STR (12%), CL-1 (11%), HYP (8%). As expected, in the CL-2 group the TUT increased, likely due to the higher %1RM prescription. Avg force and impulse were also higher. However, velocity was slower. This indicates the bar was moving slower, so it took longer for the full repetition to occur which required more force and impulse.
Limitations/
COI
The number of subjects in each group was not directly mentioned for the 6-week study. It was only mentioned for the acute study (blood lactate) which was not included in my analysis.

 

 

[Longitudinal] The effects of low-volume resistance training with and without advanced techniques in trained subjects (Giessing et al., 2016)(FT) [Brandon]

Adam: I’m not sure the RP here is “real RP”

Quality
(1-5 stars)
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Usefulness &
applicability
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Type RCT
Subjects N= 66 / Trained 4 ± 5 years /  Mean age = 42 ± 7 years
Power analysis Conducted based on RT in trained subjects (Fisher et al. 2013) using cohen’s d of 1.02 for improvements in strength. Calculated using Whitley & Ball equations for each group to have 15 participants to meet required power of 0.8 at P>.05.
Sampling method Convenience sample – participants were existing clients at the facility where the research was undertaken.
Duration Familiarization period =  0 weeks
Intervention period =  10 weeks
Methodology
  • Groups [analyzed]:

ssRM performing repetitions to self-determined repetition maximum (n=16) (predicted MMF on the next rep)
ssMMF performing to momentary muscular failure (n=24)
ssRP performing repetitions to self-determine RM using rest pause method (n=26). Rested for 5-20 seconds after each repetition before performing next rep.

  • Exercises: Hip extension, knee extension, knee flexion, trunk flexion, pull-ups, chest press, biceps curl. ssMMF group performed a pec deck exercise prior to chest press and ssRP performed seated row instead of pull-ups
  • Training sessions per week: 2x
  • Sets per exercise: 1
  • Rest between sets: Rest between each exercise lasted only as long as required to move from one exercise to the next.
  • Intensity/reps: aimed for

ssRM 60% load x 12 reps ssMMF 80% load x 9 repsssRP 90% load x 18 repetitions

  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: BIA
  • Strength measurement: isometric testing
  • Supplement: None
  • Diet / energy balance: Not mentioned
  • Statistical analyses:
    Data are presented as mean±SD
    95% Confidence intervals shown
    ANOVA/T-test, Post hoc = Wilcoxon
Results
  • Diet: Not monitored
  • Strength:

Comparison between groups did not reveal significant differences in strength for any exercise at baseline. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Exact test revealed no significant changes from pre to post for the ssRM group. The ssMMF group presented significant changes in knee extension for both the left (Z = -3.586, p < 0.001) and right (Z = -3.572, p < 0.001) limbs, trunk flexion (Z = -3.772, p < 0.001), chest press (Z = -3.772, p < 0.001) and elbow flexion (Z = -4.114, p < 0.001). The ssRP group presented significant changes in knee extension for both the left (Z = -2.299, p = 0.022) and right (Z = -3.660, p < 0.001) limbs, knee flexion for the left limb (Z = -1.969, p = 0.049), trunk flexion (Z = -3.353, p = 0.001), chest press (Z = -4.026, p < 0.001) and elbow flexion (Z = -3.660). ES for significant strength changes in the ssMMF group were considered to be large (0.91 to 1.57). ES for significant strength changes in the ssRP group were considered to range from small to large (0.42 to 1.06).

  • Body composition:

Comparison between groups did not reveal significant differences in body composition data for any variable at baseline. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Exact test revealed no significant changes from pre to post for the ssRM group. The ssMMF group presented significant changes in muscle percentage (Z = -2.837, p = 0.005), fat mass (Z = -3.164, p = 0.002), fat percentage (Z = -2.913, p = 0.004), total abdominal fat (Z = -2.449, p = 0.014), right arm muscle mass (Z = -3.541, p < 0.001), fat mass (Z = -3.475, p = 0.001) and fat percentage (Z = -3.747, p < 0.001), left arm muscle mass (Z = -2.813, p = 0.005), fat mass (Z = -3.337, p = 0.001) and fat percentage (Z = -3.425, p = 0.001), trunk fat mass (Z = -2.851, p = 0.004) and fat percentage (Z = -3.095, p 0.002), and intra-cellular water (Z = -2.104, p = 0.035). The ssRP group presented significant changes in right arm muscle mass (Z = -2.423, p = 0.015), fat mass (Z = -2.041, p = 0.041) and fat percentage (Z = -2.541, p 0.011), and left arm muscle mass (Z = -2.265, p = 0.024) and fat percentage (Z = -2.014, p = 0.044). ES for significant changes in the ssMMF group were considered to range from moderate to large (0.56 to 1.27). ES for significant changes in the ssRP group were considered to range from small to moderate (0.28 to 0.52).

The researchers’conclusions Training to MMF offers the most efficacious results; however, RP style training also produced significant improvements. Overall recommend training to momentary muscular failure.
Brandon’scomments This group is known for hyping MMF. If you translate a 2x week, 1 set of exercise it doesn’t really compare well to the average lifter so it’s hard to determine what would happen with more volume. This has so much potential if they did 3 sets of exercise or if they included a familiarization period to start everyone with the same volume/workout split. I think that this is more of a muscle retention study than a muscle growth study design.
Limitations/
COI
Use of isometric testing for strength, BIA, very odd design (see above) in regards to exercise order and rest intervals.

 

 

[Longitudinal] Strength And Muscular Adaptations Following 6 Weeks Of Rest-Pause Versus Traditional Multiple-Sets Resistance Training In Trained Subjects (Prestes et al., 2017) [Brandon]

Quality
(1-5 stars)
⋆ ⋆  
Usefulness &
applicability
⋆ ⋆
Type Intervention study
Subjects N= 18 / Trained (>1 year) / Male & Female / Mean age = 30.2 ± 6.6 years years
Duration Intervention period =  6 weeksHistory: Subjects  were accustomed to training 3-5 days per week with goal of muscle hypertrophy using 3-4 sets x 8-12 reps.
Summary of methods, design, etc. Groups:Multi-Set (traditional) N= 9 (7 male + 2 female)3×6 @ 80% 1RM. 2 min inter-set rest interval.
Rest-Pause (RP)  N= 9 (7 male + 2 female)1 set to failure @ 80% 1RM then 20 sec inter-set rests until reaching 18 reps total.
Routine A (Day 1 & 3): Bench press, DB incline, Cable Fly, military press, lateral raise, triceps pulley and biceps extension
Routine B (Day 2 & 4): Squat, Leg press, leg curl, Lat pulldown, seated row, DB row, standing BB curl, preacher curl
Training session = 57 min for traditional and 35 mins for RP
Results
  • Diet: No differences in carbs, protein, fat or calories between groups pre & post training.
  • Power: not measured.
  • Hypertrophy: No significant differences in LBM post training between groups, but the traditional group lost significantly more fat mass post training. No between group differences in circumferences. After adjustment for pre-training muscle thickness, the RP group showed significantly greater thickness at post-training for the thigh. The % increase in thigh thickness was significantly greater in RP (11± 14%) vs traditional group ( 1 ± 7%).
  • Strength: No statistically significant differences post training between groups. However, ES was higher for RP in bench press and bicep curl.
  • RP group: 1RM increased 16±11% for BP, 25±17% for leg press and 16±10% for bicep curl.
  • Traditional group: 1rm increased 10±21% for BP,  30±20% for leg press and 21±20% for bicep curl.
  • Muscle endurance: RP group had significantly greater repetitions for lat pulldown. No group differences for bench press or bicep curl. The % increase in repetitions for RP was significantly greater only for LP (27 ± 8%) vs traditional (8 ± 23%)
  • Technique: not measured
The researchers’conclusions “.. the initial set at 80% 1RM to failure (RP group) would have involved roughly 8-12 repetitions, and placed emphasis on the phosphagen and glycolytic systems to meet the energy demand. Since phosphocreatine levels in muscle can regenerate quickly, the 20-sec interval following the initial set would have allowed for partial resynthesis of phosphocreatine to contribute to performance of additional repetitions over a series of RP style sets. These additional reps would have also increased the degree of metabolic stress (from the initial set) and stimulated expression of hypertrophic and localized muscular endurance in the lower body muscles..”
“.. our findings indicate the viability of the RP method in trained individuals to achieve greater gains in muscle strength for the upper and lower limb musculature. The gains in muscle strength from RP were equal to that achieved with multiple-set RT method…. the RP method elicited superior gains in localized muscular endurance and hypertrophy in the thigh musculature…”
Brandon’s comments Very practical resistance-training program with upper/lower split 4x training per week. Although exercise was performed Monday – Thursday, so no rest days between workouts. This could lead to accumulated fatigue by the end of the week.
The traditional group lost fat mass (11 ± 17%, ES = .43) which indicates they were likely in a caloric deficit. This could account for differences in the thigh thickness (via ultrasound) by the end of the trial.
Novelty effect: Since the subjects were previously training in a similar type as the traditional group compared to the RP.
Benefit of RP: it took almost half the time to complete the training compared to the traditional exercise group.
RP could be useful for muscular endurance based sports? They do this inadvertently in a lot of crossfit workouts/competitions especially in AMRAPs.  
Limitations/
COI
Short study interventions – possible differences in longer RT program. muscle thickness measured at mid-belly, but site-specific hypertrophy could occur.
Adam’s thoughts:

  • Large strength and LBM differences between groups
  • Didn’t report absolute values for strength, only percent changes
  • Numbers don’t add up

Traditional group had ~12kg less LBM than CS group at baseline. What this means, is hard to say. It could be that traditional had more women, or subjects were more untrained. It’s also possible more high-responders were in the CS group. Regardless, it’s an important consideration.

 

Drop-set analyses

[Review] The Use of Specialized Training Techniques to Maximize Muscle Hypertrophy (Schoenfeld, 2011) (FT)

[Acute] Acute Effects of Dropsets Among Different Resistance Training Methods in Upper Body Performance (Bentes et al., 2012)

 

[Longitudinal] The effects of low volume resistance training with and without advanced techniques in trained participants (Giessing et al., 2014)

“Training to self–determined RM is not efficacious for trained participants. Training to MMF produces greatest improvements in strength and body composition, however, RP style training does offer some benefit.” – AT

Quality

(1-5 stars)

Usefulness &

applicability

Type

RCT (the authors say)

Subjects

N= (66) / Trained   / Male & Female / Mean age = 42+7 or 45+8 years depending on group

Power analysis

Conducted using ES = 1.02 for improvements in strength. Participant numbers were calculated using equations from Whitley and Ball revealing each group required 15 participants to meet required power of 0.8 at an P<.05.

Sampling method

Convenience sample – existing clients at the facility where the research was undertaken.

Duration

Familiarization period =  0 weeks

Intervention period =  10 weeks

Methodology

  • Groups:

Self-determined RM (ssRM) n = 21 [predicted MMF on the next rep]

1 @ 60%

Momentary muscular fatigue (ssMMF) n = 30

1 @ 80%

Rest-Pause (ssRP) n = 29

1 @ 90% after each complete repetition they rested for ~5-20 seconds at the bottom of the range of motion before performing the next repetition.

  • Full-body training

  • Exercises: Hip extension, knee extension, knee flexion, trunk flexion, pull-over, pull-down/ups, chest press, bicep curl

  • Training sessions per week: 2

  • Sets per exercise: 1

  • Rest between sets: Rest between each exercise was only as long as required to move from one exercise to next.

  • Intensity/reps: variable

  • Failure: variable

  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: BIA

  • Strength measurement: 1RM / isometric testing

  • Supplement: NA

  • Diet / energy balance: NA

Statistical analyses: The majority of outcomes did not meet assumptions of normality when examined using a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test and so non-parametric analysis was utilised. Baseline data was compared between groups using a Kruskal-Wallis one way analysis of variance to determine whether randomisation had succeeded. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Exact test was used to compare across the independent conditions for changes in each of the dependent variables. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS statistics computer package (vs.20) and p<.05 set as the limit for statistical significance. Further, 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated in addition to ES using Cohen’s d19 for each outcome to compare magnitude of effects between groups where an ES of 0.20-0.49 was considered as small, 0.50-0.79 as moderate and ≥0.80 as large.

Results

  • Diet: NA

  • Power: NA

Body composition: Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Exact test revealed no significant changes from pre to post for the ssRM group. The ssMMF group presented significant changes in muscle percentage (Z = -2.837, p = 0.005), fat mass (Z = -3.164, p = 0.002), fat percentage (Z = -2.913, p = 0.004), total abdominal fat (Z = -2.449, p = 0.014), right arm muscle mass (Z = -3.541, p < 0.001), fat mass (Z = -3.475, p = 0.001) and fat percentage (Z = -3.747, p < 0.001), left arm muscle mass (Z = -2.813, p = 0.005), fat mass (Z = -3.337, p = 0.001) and fat percentage (Z = -3.425, p = 0.001), trunk fat mass (Z = -2.851, p = 0.004) and fat percentage (Z = -3.095, p 0.002), and intra-cellular water (Z = -2.104, p = 0.035). The ssRP group presented significant changes in right arm muscle mass (Z = -2.423, p = 0.015), fat mass (Z = -2.041, p = 0.041) and fat percentage (Z = -2.541, p 0.011), and left arm muscle mass (Z = -2.265, p = 0.024) and fat percentage (Z = -2.014, p = 0.044). ES for significant changes in the ssMMF group were considered to range from moderate to large (0.56 to 1.27). ES for significant changes in the ssRP group were considered to range from small to moderate (0.28 to 0.52).

  • Strength: . The ssMMF group presented significant changes in knee extension for both the left (Z = -3.586, p < 0.001) and right (Z = -3.572, p < 0.001) limbs, trunk flexion (Z = -3.772, p < 0.001), chest press (Z = -3.772, p < 0.001) and elbow flexion (Z = -4.114, p < 0.001). The ssRP group presented significant changes in knee extension for both the left (Z = -2.299, p = 0.022) and right (Z = -3.660, p < 0.001) limbs, knee flexion for the left limb (Z = -1.969, p = 0.049), trunk flexion (Z = -3.353, p = 0.001), chest press (Z = -4.026, p < 0.001) and elbow flexion (Z = -3.660). ES for significant strength changes in the ssMMF group were considered to be large (0.91 to 1.57). ES for significant strength changes in the ssRP group were considered to range from small to large (0.42 to 1.06).

  • Muscle endurance: NA

  • Technique: NA

The researchers’

conclusions

“Results suggested low volume RT performed to self-determined RM may be insufficient to induce further strength and body composition adaptations in trained persons as evidenced by lack of significant changes and marginal ES’s for the ssRM group.”

“The ssMMF group demonstrated ES’s considered as large for all significantly improved exercises, and were similar or greater compared with the ssRP group. Results were similar for body composition changes. The ssMMF group demonstrated significant improvements in total muscle and fat percentage coincident with significant reduction in fat mass and non-significant increase in muscle mass. “

“These results suggest significant and meaningful improvements in strength and body composition are possible in trained participants using low volume RT when advanced techniques are utilised. Training to MMF offers the most efficacious results however, RP style training also produced significant improvements. Studies on RP to date have been acute and utilised differing applications of this method. This is the first chronic study to our knowledge and so future chronic research should compare differing applications of RP methods and also RP style RT performed to MMF.”

Brandon’s / Adam’s comments

Again, this is more of a muscle/strength retention experiment than an experiment designed to elicit gains. This same research group repeatedly does 1 set of exercise training in their studies, which may not transfer to the average lifter who does 2-5 sets.

During their randomization process they should have adjust for gender, then randomized into each group. Then they wouldn’t have had the gender issue (see limitations below).

I really wish they would’ve shown all the data so we can see if they performed the correct stats. It’s difficult to tell from the paper.

Limitations/

COI

“The ssMMF group also performed a pec deck exercise prior to the chest press and the ssRP group performed a seated row instead of pull-down to avoid participants having to wait in a stretched position between repetitions as the movement arms start position required standing to grasp it.”

Changed the exercise order around for different groups. Could be confounder.

“Further the ssRM and ssMMF groups were matched for relative work volume allowing examination of the role of training to MMF in low volume RT for trained persons. ”

Thus relative work volume was approximately matched between the ssRM (60% load x ~12 repetitions) and ssMMF (80% load x ~9 repetitions) groups but was greater in ssRP due to both increased load and repetitions (90% load x ~18 repetitions).

No volume data in manuscript.

“after randomisation the ratio of males to females differed slightly between the groups with proportionately more females in ssRM>ssMMF>ssRP”

They should have stratified by gender then randomized to groups.

From the body composition data they indicate changes in specific muscle areas (arm muscle mass) and I’m not familiar with BIA enough to know if this is accurate.

[Longitudinal] The Effects of Breakdown Set Resistance Training on Muscular Performance and Body Composition in Young Men and Women (Fisher et al., 2016)

“The present study supports previous research that the use of advanced training techniques stimulates no greater muscular adaptations when compared with performing more simplified RT protocols to momentary muscular failure.”

Quality

(1-5 stars)

Usefulness &

applicability

Type

RCT

Subjects

N= 36 / Trained (>6months, 2xweek) / Male & Female. Mean age = years

Power analysis

Calculated using an effect size of 1.25 for improvements in strength. Participant numbers were calculated using equation from Whitley and Ball revealing each group required 9 participants to meet required Beta power of 0.8 at P<.05

Sampling method

Convenience sample from the gym where study was discovered (Discover Strength, Chanhanssen, Minnesota)

Duration

Familiarization period =  0 weeks

Intervention period =  12 weeks

Methodology

  • Groups:

Breakdown (BD) n= 11

1×8-12 + 30% load decrease and drop-set for chest press, leg press, and pull-down to failure

Heavy load breakdown (HLBD) n = 14

1×4 + drop-set for chest press, leg press, and pull-down using a heavier load. Used a heavier load ~ 4 reps, then decreased load 20% and continued to MMF, then decreased another 20% and performed to MMF.

Control (CON) n = 11

1×8-12

  • Full-body training

  • Exercises: Workout A: chest press, leg press, pull down, overhead press, adductor, abductor, abdominal flexion, lumbar extension. Workout B: pec-fly, pull-over, leg extension dips, biceps curl, seated calf raise, leg curl, torso rotation.

  • Training sessions per week: 2

  • Sets per exercise: 1

  • Rest between sets: As long as it took to change

  • Intensity/reps: 8-12 or 4

  • Failure: yes

  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: Bod Pod

  • Strength measurement: 1RM / isometric testing

  • Supplement: NA

  • Diet / energy balance: NA

  • Statistical analyses:

  • Data are presented as mean±SD/ mean±SE.

  • Confidence intervals shown.

  • Effect size shown (cohen’s d)

  • 1 Way ANOVA. Post-hoc Tukey

Results

  • Diet: NA

  • Power: NA

  • Hypertrophy: Body Composition via bod pod revealed no significant between group differences. No gender difference either.

  • Strength:NA

  • Muscle endurance: No significant between group effects nor gender differences. BD (+61.5%), HLBD (+57.4%), CON (+51.3%)

  • Technique:

The researchers’

conclusions

Results from the present study suggest that considerable increases in muscular performance can be attained by the use of brief, infrequent and uncomplicated resistance exercise, specifically in persons with previous resistance training experience. Furthermore, this study adds to the relative dearth of empirical research that advanced training techniques appear to produce no greater gains in muscular performance than traditional sets of RT performed to muscular failure. From a practical perspective the present study reinforces our understanding of the size principle that exercise to MMF recruits all available MUs irrespective of load and advanced techniques. For strength coaches and athletes with limited time resources and engaging in sport-specific skill training, the present study supports that a time efficient manner of uncomplicated training appears an efficacious approach to improving absolute muscular endurance.”

Brandon’s comments

Limitations/

COI

“It was estimated this load would allow performance of 8 to 12 repetitions at the 2 second concentric, 4 second eccentric (2:4) repetition duration used for testing and training.”

Most training is done at 1:0:1, so this places much more stress on the muscle and would probably lead to a greater number of reps if done instead.

“Further that volume-load (reps x sets x load) was not equated between groups may have affected outcomes. “

Not volume equated.

[Longitudinal] Effect of creatine supplementation and drop-set resistance training in untrained aging adults (Johannsmeyer et al., 2016)

·    Doesn’t compare traditional vs. DS, but the changes from baseline could be interesting

Quality

(1-5 stars)

Usefulness &

applicability

Type

Double-blinded RCT after participants were gender, age, weight, height, and baseline physical activity matched.

Subjects

N= 34 / Trained / Male & Female / Mean age = 58 +/- 5 years

Power analysis

A priori power analysis (G*Power v. 3.1.5.1) showed that 34 participants were required. This calculation was based on a moderate effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.25), an alpha level of .05, a ß-value of 0.8 for a repeated measures: within-between interactions, ANOVA approach (Faul  et al., 2007).

Sampling method

Convenience sample – volunteers

Duration

Familiarization period = 5 sessions

Intervention period =   12 weeks

Methodology

  • Groups:

Creatine (CR) n= 13 – 17 depending on outcome

Placebo (PL) n= 11 – 14 depending on outcome

Each set consisted of performing repetitions to muscle fatigue at 80% 1-RM immediately followed by repetitions to muscle fatigue at 30% baseline 1-RM

  • Full-body training

  • Exercises: Chest press, lat pull-down, hack squat, leg press

  • Training sessions per week: 3

  • Sets per exercise: 2 drop-sets

  • Rest between sets: 1-2 minutes

  • Intensity/reps: 80% 1RM to MMF then 30% 1RM to MMF

  • Failure: yes

  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: DXA (FFM)

  • Strength measurement: 1RM / isometric testing

  • Supplement: Creatine (.1g/kg/day) or Placebo

  • Diet / energy balance: Recorded during first and final week of supplementation and resistance training to assess differences.

  • Statistical analyses:

  • Data are presented as mean±SD/ mean±SE.

  • Confidence intervals shown/not shown.

  • ANOVA/T-test

Results

  • Diet: No changes in dietary intake over the course of the study based on 3-day food records.

  • Power:

  • Hypertrophy:

  • Strength: Significant time effect for strength in leg press, hack squat, chest press and lat pull-down. Gender differences but no group differences.

  • Muscle endurance:

  • Volume: No differences in average training volume between groups.  

The researchers’

conclusions

“This is the first study to examine the effects of creatine supplementation and drop-set resistance training in aging adults. Results showed that drop-set RT increased muscle mass, strength, endurance, and tasks of functionality and creatine supplementation augmented the gains in muscle mass and strength (lat pull-down in males only) and decreased muscle protein catabolism (males only).”

“The addition of creatine to drop-set RT leads to superior gains in muscle mass with males on creatine experiencing additional benefits.”

Brandon’s comments

Older subjects. If you compare the placebo group pre- to post it is a 0.9kg increase in FFM with a very large SD. Not sure it’s applicable to the current population we’re aiming at.

Limitations/

COI

[Longitudinal] 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 (Angleri et al., 2017)

Quality

(1-5 stars)

Usefulness &

applicability

Type

RCT

Subjects

N= 32 / Heavily Trained (>4y 2xweek) 6.4±2.0 years of resistance training experience / Male / Mean age = 27.0 ± 3.9 years

Power analysis

NA

Sampling method

Convenience sample – volunteers

Duration

Familiarization period =  2 sessions

Intervention period =  12 weeks

Methodology

  • Groups: Total Volume equated!!!

Traditional (TRAD) n = 32 limbs (16 dominant, 16 non-dominant)

3-5 sets of 6-12 reps @ 75% 1RM

Crescent Pyramid system (CP) n = 16 (8dom/8nondom)

3-5 sets of 15 reps@65%, 12 @75%, 8 @80%, 6 @85%

Drop-set system (DS) = 16 (8dom/8nondom)

1xFailure, up to 2 drops with short pause to hit total volume of other groups

  • Lower body unilateral machine

  • Exercises: Leg Press & Leg extension

  • Training sessions per week: 2

  • Sets per exercise: 1 or 3-5

  • Rest between sets: 2 minutes

  • Intensity/reps: variable

  • Failure: close to failure on 3rd / 4th set

  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: Ultrasound

  • Strength measurement: 1RM leg press and extension

  • Supplement: NA

  • Diet / energy balance: NA

  • Statistical analyses: Normal data

  • Data are presented as mean±SD/ mean±SE.

  • Confidence intervals not shown.

  • Repeated measures 1-way ANOVA

As there were no significant differences between protocols at baseline, a mixed model having protocols and time as fixed factors and subjects as random factor was performed for each dependent variable to compare training effects over time. In case of significant F-values, a Tukey adjustment was implemented for pairwise comparisons. Statistical analyses were performed in the software SAS

Results

  • Diet: NA

  • Power: NA

  • Hypertrophy: Significant time effect for CSA. No differences in groups. Very similar % change (TRAD = 7.6 %, CP = 7.5%, DS=7.8%) from pre to post. Also significant time effect on pennation angle and fascicle length for all groups, but no group differences.

  • Strength: Significant time effect for dynamic strength (1RM) but no between group effects. Similar patterns of % change based on individual change in 1RM graph (4a).

  • Volume: equated, no differences

The researchers’

conclusions

“Our main finding is that CP and DS systems do not produce additional gains in muscle strength and mass compared to TRAD.”

“Accordingly, we found similar increases in muscular strength between TRAD, CP, and DS protocols (24.9–25.9% for leg press and 16.4–17.1% for leg extension). “

“Our data support the hypothesis that RT systems are not needed to maximize muscle strength gains in trained individuals in TTV-equalized conditions. “

“Regarding the comparison between TRAD, CP, and DS protocols, it has been suggested that sets performed to failure in DS system, and the associated high TTV, are advantageous for muscle hypertrophy due to a high metabolic stress, and a consequent anabolic milieu com- pared to TRAD and CP protocols (Mangine et al. 2015; Morton et al. 2016; Schoenfeld 2013b; Schoenfeld et al. 2015). “

Brandon’s comments

This is best study on DS in the literature by far. There is some possibility of cross-education as mentioned in a previous CS study, which could enhance or minimize the hypertrophic adaptation. However, since volume was equated I’m not sure that would occur.

See comment on metabolic stress in article – this supports that argument (see last quote from authors above).

The discussion section of this paper is worth reading. It covers a lot of relevant and new data/papers on hypertrophy. They thoroughly discuss limitations and relate the findings to other similar literature.

Limitations/

COI

Initial volume completed was 120% of the 2-week prior training to hopefully induce hypertrophy. This may have not been enough to elicit a change in the 12 week study.

A limitation is not training to MMF, but equating volume is more important in a study like this. It would be good to see an unbalanced volume design in the future.

Hidden gem = determining how many sessions per week they completed.

No absolute values, everything is presented as percentages.

No baseline characteristics of groups.

No power analysis – could have been underpowered?

No effect sizes.

[Longitudinal] Effects of drop set resistance training on acute stress indicators and long-term muscle hypertrophy and strength (Fink et al., 2017)

Quality

(1-5 stars)

Usefulness &

applicability

Type

RCT

Subjects

N= 16 / Untrained (>1 yr no training) / Men / Mean age = 20-32 years

Power analysis

A priori as follows:

Effect size f = 0.25, α err prob = 0.05, power = 0.8. The required total sample size was n =16, n = 8 for each group.

Sampling method

Convenience sample

Duration

Familiarization period =  weeks

Intervention period =  6 weeks

Methodology

  • Groups:

Traditional (NS) n= 8

3xFailure with 12RM, 90 seconds between sets.

Drop Set (DS) n= 8

1×12, decreased load 20% each time failure was reached 3 times consecutively.

  • Exercises: Cable Tricep pushdown

  • Training sessions per week: 2x

  • Sets per exercise: 3 or 1

  • Rest between sets: 1.5 minutes

  • Intensity/reps: 12RM

  • Failure: yes

  • Hypertrophy/body comp measurement: MRI (CSA), Ultrasound (MT)

  • Strength measurement: 12RM

  • Supplement: NA

  • Diet / energy balance: Food records, collected after experiment.

  • Statistical analyses:

  • Data are presented as mean±SD

  • Confidence intervals not shown.

  • ANOVA. Post hoc bonferroni. Effect sizes.

Results

  • Diet: No between group differences

  • Power: NA

  • Hypertrophy: DS group increased CSA 10 ± 3.7%, NS group increased 5.1 ± 2.1%. No sig diff between groups (p=.57). Acute measures via muscle thickness showed significant increase in DS group only ( 18.3 ± 5.8%, P<.001)

  • Strength: Both groups increased 12RM (DS: 16.1 ±  2.1%, NS 25.2 ±  17.5 %) but no significant between group differences.

  • Effort: DS had significantly higher RPE (DS: 7.7 ± 1.5; NS: 5.3 ± 1.4, p< .001).

  • Volume: No differences in average total training volume (reps x load)

The researchers’

conclusions

“We showed that a single set of drop set RT < 150 s 2 times/week over a period of 6 weeks leads to CSA increases > 10%. Even though significance among groups could not be observed, the triceps CSA increased twice as much in the DS group as compared to a volume-matched conventional RT protocol. ES for CSA increases was also larger for DS (0.47) than NS (0.25), lending support to a potential benefit for a drop sets in promoting an enhanced hypertrophic response. Strength significantly increased in both groups without differences among groups. “

“We propose that the larger CSA increase in the DS group observed in our study might be due to increased mechanical and metabolic stress and muscle damage due to dropping the load without rest. Indeed, longer time under tension has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis 2 while improved metabolic stress might increase muscle fiber recruitment, hormonal responses and cell swelling among other anabolic responses 4. The accumulation of metabolites such as inorganic phosphate and hydrogen ions may inhibit the action of contractile proteins 18 possibly leading to larger motor unit recruitment. “

Our study provides evidence that DS may help to enhance the hypertrophic response to RT. Even though the exact hypertrophic mechanisms of DS training is not yet clear, the high metabolic and mechanical stress and muscle damage might lead to superior anabolic responses compared to NS training. DS training might be an efficient way to increase muscle mass with minimal time spent training. However, the hypertrophic increases appear to occur without corresponding increases in muscle strength. Trainees seeking fast muscle gains without focusing on strength gains such as bodybuilders may want to include a DS protocol into their RT regimen. “

Brandon’s/
Adam’s/

Andrew’s comments

Using the acute data we can see the DS group had a better pump, shown by the almost double ES (DS = 0.47, NS = 0.25). They talk about this in the discussion. Would this occur every time or would it normalize after 6 weeks? No idea since they measured this at baseline(? not in text just guessing). If it DID normalize then that would help explain the non-significant changes.

I like the general reductionist concept of using 1 movement to try to tease out the differences, but what would happen if you did more than one exercise? Most people do other exercises that indirectly hit the triceps, so would this affect the outcome?

Large differences in ES for strength favoring the NS group. The DS group is more set towards an endurance adaptation so that makes sense.

Limitations/

COI

They used an ES = 0.25 for power, but in 6 weeks I’m not sure you would even see that much of a difference since volume is equated. Taken longer, maybe 12-18 weeks, you might be able to tell.

Group protein intake was extremely low. (NS = 94.1g, DS = 88.6g). Could this make a difference between the groups? Not likely, but it may if you did more exercises. Further, it may have hampered overall gains.

  • Short duration

  • Low ecological validity since only one movement and three sets were done per session

  • Small sample strongly affected by potential outliers (individual data points not reported)

  • Untrained: Not a limitation per se, but results don’t necessarily transfer to trained people

  • Would these results transfer to other muscle groups?

 

 

 

 

Acute studies

 

[Acute] Effects of Different Set Configurations on Barbell Velocity and Displacement During a Clean Pull (Haff et al., 2003)

[Acute] Kinematic, kinetic, and blood lactate profiles of continuous and intraset rest loading schemes (Denton and Cronin, 2006)

 

[Acute] Effect of interrepetition rest intervals on weight training repetition power output (Lawton et al., 2006)

[Acute] The Effect of Cluster Loading on Force, Velocity, and Power during Ballistic Jump Squat Training (Hansen et al., 2011a)

 

[Acute] Acute Effects of Distribution of Rest between Repetitions (Iglesias-Soler et al., 2012)

[Acute] Influence of Different Resistance Exercise Loading Schemes on Mechanical Power Output in Work to Rest Ratio Equated and Nonequated Conditions (Paulo et al., 2012)


[Acute] Effects of cluster sets on endocrine hormones, blood lactate, and lower body power during hypertrophy training (Girman et al., 2012)

[Acute] Acute neuromuscular and fatigue responses to the rest-pause method (Marshall et al., 2012)

[Acute] Effect of cluster set configurations on power clean technique (Hardee et al., 2012a)

[Acute] Maximum number of repetitions and loss of velocity with cluster set configuration (Carballeira et al., 2012) [only poster]

[Acute] Effect of Interrepetition Rest on Power Output in the Power Clean (Hardee et al., 2012b)

[Acute] Performance of Maximum Number of Repetitions With Cluster-Set Configuration (Iglesias-Soler et al., 2014)


[Acute] Effect of Cluster Set Configurations on Mechanical Variables During the Deadlift Exercise (Moir et al., 2013)

[Acute] Effect of the inter-repetition rest length in the capacity to repeat Peak Power output (Valverde-Esteve et al., 2013) [Only abstract available]

[Acute] The Acute Effect of Different Half Squat Set Configurations on Jump Potentiation (Boullosa et al., 2013)

[Acute] Power Output and Electromyography Activity of the Back Squat Exercise with Cluster Sets (Joy et al., 2013)

[Acute] Velocity drives power output during the back squat using cluster set and traditional configurations (Kreutzer et al., 2014) [conference abstract]

[Acute] Acute effects of a cluster-set protocol on hormonal, metabolic and performance measures in resistance-trained males – (Girman et al., 2014)

[Acute] Acute effects of hypertrophy-oriented cluster sets on work, power, and velocity (Tufano et al., 2014)

[Acute] Effects of cluster sets on acute hypertrophic variables and fatigue during a high-volume squat session (Tufano et al., 2015a)

[Acute] Acute response to cluster sets in trained and untrained men (Oliver et al., 2015a)

[Acute] Velocity Drives Greater Power Observed During Back Squat Using Cluster Sets (Oliver et al., 2015b)

[Acute] Oxidative DNA damage and lipid peroxidation to cluster vs. traditional resistance exercise loading in volleyball players (Arazi et al., 2015)

 

“Cluster sets are theorized to allow for some replenishment of phosphocreatine (Lawton, et al., 2006), which is vital for power production (Kraemer & Ratamess, 2004; Weiss, 1991; Williams, Natalie, Louise, & Jeff, 2006). Also, Baker and Newton (2005) asserted that it is important to avoid fatigue when attempting to maximize power, as well as that performing a low amount of repetitions, with an appropriate rest intervals, will optimize power”

[Acute] The effect of active and passive recovery on the acute neuromuscular responses to cluster-type regimens (Nicholson et al., 2016a)

 

[Acute] Maintenance of velocity and power with cluster sets during high-volume back squats (Tufano et al., 2016a)

[Acute] Cluster Sets Permit Greater Mechanical Stress Without Decreasing Relative Velocity (Tufano et al., 2016b)

[Acute] Changes during a 30-Repetition Bout of the Barbell Clean (Swinton et al., 2016)

[Acute] Effects of short inter-repetition rest periods on power output losses during the half squat exercise (Ramos et al., 2016)


[Acute] Acute Effect of Cluster and Traditional Set Configurations on Myokines Associated with Hypertrophy (Oliver et al., 2016)