COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Past research has shown that for your new, untrained members, a single-set training program helps maintain strength gains. But, what about your members who are trained? The dilemma of choosing single-set or multiple-set training just became a bit more confusing.

The large number of variables involved with training, such as equipment usage, intensity, muscle groups, age of participants, beginning fitness level and duration of study, make this question difficult to answer. However, a recent study suggests that single-set training may actually decrease strength in postmenopausal women.

Published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, research showed that in pre-trained subjects, multiple-set training continues to work on increasing strength, while single-set training not only doesn't maintain strength but can even decrease it.

For the study, 71 well-trained postmenopausal women were divided into two groups. Group one began the first 12-week session by performing a single-set training regimen, while group two started with a multiple-set protocol. A five-week rejuvenation period occurred where the women conducted their regular training schedule. During the final 12-week period the groups switched — with group one performing the multiple-set session and group two engaging in the single-set program. At the end of the eight-month study, the use of the multiple sets showed increases in both groups, and in single-set training muscle strength decreased in both groups.

When choosing a strength program to train your members, the authors suggested looking at the individual and his/her objectives. For the untrained, a single-set program is advised during the initial training months; however, once strength becomes a training focus, multiple-sets should be used to continue achieving strength gains.