Single set training or multiple set training- which is more effective? Recent research on experienced lifters gives further insights into this question.
In this research, two groups of trainees participated in either a low-volume (one set with heavy weight) or higher-volume (three sets with heavy weight) strength training program for 25-weeks.
The aim of the research was to investigate the effects of these training volumes on muscle strength gains, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-I) and its two major binding proteins, IGFBP-1 and IGFBP-3.
Multiple Set Training is Needed to Increase Strength and IGF-1 proteins
IGF-1 is the growth factor that builds big muscle. A combination of intense weight training and a diet rich in protein and carbs after training prolong its potent effects. In the results from this research, both groups showed a 20% increase in IGF-I levels during the first 13-weeks of training.
However, after this, no further increases were noted by the researchers.
Interestingly, the three-set training group showed a 20% decrease in IGFBP-3 binding protein, and significantly better strength gains. The decrease in binding protein means more bioactive IGF circulating in the system. Maybe this is why the three-set group produced better gains from training than the single set group.
These findings indicate that multiple sets are required to promote a high secretion of active IGF. It also appears that a short break from training is required after 10 or so weeks to restore peak IGF-1 secretion.