Muscle pumps have been shown to be correlated with muscle growth.


  • Some studies have found that a skeletal muscle pump was associated with long term muscle growth
  •        Light weight can equally stimulate muscle growth as heavier weight, but they are much more psychologically fatiguing than using a heavier weight.
  •        Anabolic signaling pathways increase when using heavy and light weights to failure.


Tri-Set training involves three different exercises performed for a body part with short rest periods. An example would be a bench press, followed by a machine bench press and a cable fly.

Tri-Sets are an advanced training technique similar to SuperSets and Compound Sets, in which very short rest periods are taken between exercises. Researchers examined how Tri-Sets would differ from traditional resistance exercises.

Resistance-trained men performed a traditional resistance exercise protocol consisting of 3 sets of bench press, machine bench press, and cable flyes. 1 minute rest periods were allowed between sets, and 2-minute rest periods were allowed between exercises.

The Tri-set training group performed 1 set of bench press, rested for 10 seconds, performed 1 set of machine bench press, rested for 10 seconds, and performed 1 set of cable flyes. A 2-minute rest period was allowed, and they repeated the process 2 times. The participants performed each set to muscular failure.

The researchers measured chest swelling (i.e., muscle pump) after each protocol to see how big a muscle pump would occur with each protocol. Training volume (sets x reps x load), training efficiency (volume load divided by the training duration in minutes), and internal load (product of time under tension of each session in seconds by the session RPE) were analyzed.

muscle pump vs no pump does a pump mean muscle growth does pump mean muscle growth does getting a pump build muscle does muscle pump build muscle does the pump build muscleThe researchers found that the Tri-Set training produced greater muscle pumps than the traditional training, but the volume was lower for the Tri-Set training group.


The greater metabolic stress of the shorter rest periods (<10 seconds) in the Tri-Set training was suggested to increase osmotic changes resulting in enhanced muscle pumps. The Tri-Set training produced a greater internal training load and training efficiency. See the chart below.

muscle pump vs no pump does a pump mean muscle growth does pump mean muscle growth does getting a pump build muscle does muscle pump build muscle does the pump build muscleIf you want to increase the volume in your workouts, stick to traditional resistance exercise, but if you are looking for a time-efficient workout, you can use Tri-Set training.The Tri-Set training was 48.2% shorter than the traditional resistance exercise protocol. The Tri-Set training was much harder to perform than the traditional training session. If you are looking for better muscle pumps, then try Tri-Set Training. [1]

muscle pump vs no pump does a pump mean muscle growth does pump mean muscle growth does getting a pump build muscle does muscle pump build muscle does the pump build muscle


You can build muscle using both heavy and light weight training when the volume is similar. Still, a drawback of using light weight training for muscle growth is that they are more psychologically uncomfortable to perform.

When researchers compared subjects using light weight (25-30 compared to moderate weight (8-12 reps), researchers found that the high reps caused more discomfort, fatigue, and less enjoyment.[2]

Using a heavier weight recruits more fast-twitch fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are more prone to muscle growth and are activated using heavier weights that allow fewer reps. Using a light weight can still recruit these fast-twitch fibers; it takes longer to activate them, which only occurs when you approach muscular failure.


Recently, a study found that full muscle activation can occur by lifting a light weight to failure, similar to using a heavy weight. The drawback is that fatigue may occur before that threshold for type II muscle fiber activation. In contrast, lifting a heavy weight causes more muscle fiber activation than lifting a light weight to failure in a shorter time frame. [3]

In a study by Morton et al., subjects trained with light weight to failure had similar type I and type II glycogen depletion and increases in key anabolic signaling proteins as those training with a heavier weight. When training with higher or lower loads, when loads are taken to complete failure, it leads to equivalent muscle hypertrophy and occurs in both type I and type II fibers. [4]


Doing super high reps also leads to a deterioration of exercise form, leading to an increased risk of injury. One study had subjects perform 55 reps of squats. The researchers measured their squat biomechanics and found that the higher repetitions caused by fatigue deteriorated the squat form.

The study suggests that technique changes in high repetition sets do not favor optimal strength development and may increase the risk of injury, clearly questioning the safety and efficacy of such resistance training programming.[5]


Some have suggested that since aerobic exercise can cause increases in Type I fibers, greater time under load with light weight exercises taken to muscular failure might contribute to increases in Type I fiber. [6] The theory of training with light weight training to increase metabolic stress to increase muscle Type I fiber growth is highly controversial.

Some suggest that high rep training with 20-40 reps is the best way to grow the calves.
This gym fitness myth has been around for decades.
I don’t know how this myth started, but I know it’s still around today.

People say that you need high reps to make your calves grow because you walk around on them all day. Bodybuilders say that your calves need to be trained with high reps because they consist predominantly of slow-twitch muscle fibers.

This myth was debunked by muscle guru Dr. Brad Schoenfeld in 2020. Dr. Schoenfeld had subjects train their calves with a light weight (20–30 repetitions) and heavy weight (6–10 repetitions). The calf muscle has different regions that have different fiber type distributions. The medial and lateral gastrocnemius have an even combination of both slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers, while the soleus is mostly slow-twitch. So, if the soleus comprises type I fibers, it should have responded better to high rep training.


In this study, each subject trained one leg with high reps and the other leg with low reps. The researchers trained each group to muscular failure, and did not allow bouncing during the repetitions.. At the end of the study, both the high-rep and low-rep training groups gained similar increases in muscle mass in the calf muscle.[7] All three muscles responded similarly to the use of heavy and light weights.

This suggests that both heavy and light weight can equally stimulate calf growth. One of the biggest mistakes people commonly make is loading up the calf machine with weight and not using a full range of motion. The lifter will start bouncing up and down on the calf raise machine, doing partial reps. Between sets, stretch the calf muscles between sets with just the weight with no movement. When subjects performed weight-assisted calf stretches for 3 minutes, five days a week for six weeks, it resulted in a 5.6% increase in calf muscle growth.[8]

This is controversial, but possibly more stretching can increase calf muscle growth. A study found that volleyball players who stretched their calf muscles (i.e., static calf muscle stretch) for 12 weeks increased the fascicle length and cross-sectional area of their calf muscles compared to the volleyball players who did not stretch their calf muscles.[9] Based on most studies looking at changes in fiber types with light and heavy weight resistance training, there do not appear to be changes in muscle fiber types corresponding to high and low repetition training regimens. [10]



If you don’t train to failure or near failure when using a light weight, you won’t recruit all the muscle fibers, resulting in less overall tension on the muscle. A 2018 study in which subjects trained with different intensities to complete muscular failure with a similar total workload for twelve weeks. Subjects trained with 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% of their 1-repetition maximum.

Training at 40, 60, or 80% of one-repetition maximum 1RM led to similar muscle growth, whereas the 20% of 1RM groups had less biceps and quad growth. This suggests that light weight will produce suboptimal growth, and weights above 85% won’t further increase muscle growth. [11]

Thus, using a weight that you can use for more than 30-40 reps will be less conducive to muscle growth than reps in the 15-30 rep ranges. High repetitions exercises are harder psychologically and much less enjoyable but can produce similar increases to heavier weight.


You can gain muscle in an extensive range of repetitions. If the sets are taken to near failure, you can gain muscle with 8-10 reps or 20 reps (i.e., 2~3 RIR). Researchers have also found similar increases in anabolic signaling pathways (i.e., cellular pathway to stimulate muscle growth) between 2-4 reps and 10-14 reps when completed to failure. [12]

You probably don’t need to worry about staying in a particular repetition range if the weight is heavy enough and you take the repetitions close to failure. Using a weight that is too light (<20% of a 1RM) can cause a good muscle pump but will not increase muscle growth.


·       Light weight can equally stimulate muscle growth as heavier weight, but they are much more psychologically fatiguing than using a heavier weight.

·       Anabolic signaling pathways increase when using heavy and light weights to failure.


  1. DE Camargo JBB, Zaroni RS, Júnior ACT, et al. Tri-Set Training System Induces a High Muscle Swelling with Short Time Commitment in Resistance-Trained Subjects: A Cross-Over Study. Int J Exerc Sci. 2022;15(3):561-569. Published 2022 Apr 1.
  2. Alex S. Ribeiro et al., “Acute Effects of Different Training Loads on Affective Responses in Resistance-Trained Men,” International Journal of Sports Medicine 40, no. 13 (December 2019): 850–55.
  3. Tyler W. D. Muddle et al., “Effects of Fatiguing, Submaximal High- versus Low-Torque Isometric Exercise on Motor Unit Recruitment and Firing Behavior,” Physiological Reports 6, no. 8 (April 2018): e13675.
  4. Robert W. Morton et al., “Muscle Fibre Activation Is Unaffected by Load and Repetition Duration When Resistance Exercise Is Performed to Task Failure,” The Journal of Physiology 597, no. 17 (September 2019): 4601–13.
  5. David R. Hooper et al., “Effects of Fatigue from Resistance Training on Barbell Back Squat Biomechanics,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 28, no. 4 (April 2014): 1127–34.
  6. Grgic, J., Homolak, J., Mikulic, P., Botella, J., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2018). Inducing hypertrophic effects of type I skeletal muscle fibers: A hypothetical role of time under load in resistance training aimed at muscular hypertrophy. Medical hypotheses, 112, 40–42.
  7. Brad J. Schoenfeld et al., “Do the Anatomical and Physiological Properties of a Muscle Determine Its Adaptive Response to Different Loading Protocols?,” Physiological Reports 8, no. 9 (May 2020): e14427.

  9. C. L. Simpson et al., “Stretch Training Induces Unequal Adaptation in Muscle Fascicles and Thickness in Medial and Lateral Gastrocnemii,” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 27, no. 12 (December 2017): 1597–1604.
  10. Ioli Panidi et al., “Muscle Architectural and Functional Adaptations Following 12-Weeks of Stretching in Adolescent Female Athletes,” Frontiers in Physiology 12 (2021): 1088.
  11. Jozo Grgic, “The Effects of Low-Load Vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Fiber Hypertrophy: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Human Kinetics 74 (August 2020): 51–58.
  12. Thiago Lasevicius et al., “Effects of Different Intensities of Resistance Training with Equated Volume Load on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy,” European Journal of Sport Science 18, no. 6 (July 2018): 772–80.
  13. Adam M. Gonzalez et al., “Intramuscular Anabolic Signaling and Endocrine Response Following High Volume and High Intensity Resistance Exercise Protocols in Trained Men,” Physiological Reports 3, no. 7 (July 2015).

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