Volume has an inverted U-shaped relationship in which sets can increase muscle growth up to a point. Thereafter, adding further sets won’t increase muscle growth. The research suggests that between 10-20 sets per body part seems optimal. The number of sets you can perform is dependent on your recovery. Increasing sets will work up to a certain point; then, no further increase in muscle mass will occur.
HOW MANY EXERCISES PER WEEK MAXIMIZES MUSCLE GROWTH ARTICLE SUMMARY
- How many exercises per week to stimulate muscle growth is dependent on many factors such as age, training status, current training volume, intensity, ect.
- Volume has an inverted U-shaped relationship in which sets can increase muscle growth up to a point. After that, adding further sets won’t increase muscle growth.
- The research suggests that 10-20 sets per body part seems optimal.
- The number of sets you can perform is dependent on your recovery. Increasing sets will work up to a certain point; no further increase in muscle mass will occur.
9/15 HOW MANY EXERCISES PER WEEK:
How many sets per week is the question all lifters looking to maximally stimulate muscle growth are asking. Adding more sets will increase tension placed on a muscle which has all kinds of beneficial effects, such as increasing muscle IGF-1 levels, myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy, etc. A new meta-analysis found that doing more volume (i.e., sets) won’t necessarily result in more muscle growth.
The researchers analyzed several studies and examined muscle growth responses of: “low” (<12 weekly sets), “moderate” (12-20 weekly sets), and “high” volume (>20 weekly sets). The researchers found no differences between moderate and high training volume responses for the quadriceps and the biceps. However, they found that high-volume training is better for triceps muscle growth.
The researchers concluded that many sets might be needed to stimulate muscle growth because the triceps are activated in many multi-joint exercises such as bench presses and other pressing exercises.
According to the results of this review, a set range of 12-20 weekly sets per muscle group may be an optimum standard recommendation for increasing muscle hypertrophy in young, trained men.
4/15 UPDATE: HIGH VOLUME WORKOUTS WON’T NECESSARILY RESULT IN MORE MUSCLE GROWTH!
A meta-analysis of resistance training variables affecting muscle growth among individuals. The only significant variable that explained the variance of hypertrophy was the number of sets per workout. Those who performed more sets were a negative predictor of muscle growth. Excessive sets per workout negatively affect muscle growth.
5/6 HOW MANY EXERCISES PER WEEK PER MUSCLE GROUP PER WEEK? IS >20 SETS PER WEEK PER BODYPART OPTIMAL FOR MUSCLE GROWTH?
The current recommendation for set volume is 10-20 sets per week for optimal muscle growth. The response is highly variable among individuals, with some needing more sets and others requiring fewer sets.
Researchers performed a meta-analysis to see if those studies in which subjects performed 12-20 sets per week had less muscle growth than those in which subjects performed more than >20 sets per week. Only six studies met the eligibility criteria in which subjects performed greater than 20 sets per week.
These studies compared low, moderate, and high-volume training. The researchers found that >20 sets per week tended to result in greater increases in muscle mass. These were not large effect sizes for >20 sets per week, but there tended to be minor increases in muscle growth compared to those performing 12-20 sets.
This suggests that after 20 sets, more than likely, you are hitting the threshold in which doing more sets will not result in greater increases in muscle growth.
Of all the muscle groups the study examined, only the triceps had meaningful muscle growth from >20 sets per week, whereas the quad and biceps had a small effect. In sum, greater than 20 sets may produce a small increase in muscle size, but 12-20 sets seem to be the threshold for muscle growth; doing more will probably not give you a huge gain in size, probably a small difference. (15)
HOW MANY EXERCISES PER WEEK PER MUSCLE GROUP FOR OPTIMAL GAINS IN MUSCLE?
Researchers often use volume when classifying how much work has been performed over time. The volume of a workout is commonly referred to as the number of sets x reps you perform; however, the weight you lift also affects the volume.
The time taken to complete the exercise will also affect the volume. For example, rest-pause training can result in more volume in a shorter workout because the rest periods are 20 seconds between sets.
A 2017 study found that rest-pause was more effective than a traditional resistance exercise program for increasing workout volume in a shorter workout. There are many ways to measure training volume, but for gaining muscle, focus on the total training volume, which is the total amount of weight lifted over a period.
VOLUME VS INTENSITY
Volume can be measured in multiple ways, but for gaining muscle, three factors of hypertrophy driven muscle growth need to be tracked:
- The sets must be sufficient in volume to stimulate muscle growth.
- The sets must be of adequate intensity to stimulate muscle growth.
- The sets must be close to muscular failure (i.e., not to complete failure, but close to failure).
Two workouts can simplify the relationship between volume, tension, and muscle growth. A.) A classic bodybuilding program, B.) A traditional powerlifting program.
A.) 3 sets x 10 reps x 225 (weight on the bar) =total workout volume 6,750
B.) 3 sets x 5 reps x 315 (weight on the bar) =total workout volume 4,725
Workout A has a greater potential for muscle growth because it results in a greater workout volume. Now, if the powerlifter in Workout B increased his sets to 4, his workout volume would go up to 6,300, and the chances of muscle growth are much greater in the bodybuilding protocol because his volume is now higher.
HOW MANY EXERCISES PER WEEK: REPS VS LOW REPS RESULT IN THE SAME MUSCLE GROWTH WHEN VOLUME IS EQUAL
When researchers compared a bodybuilding workout (i.e., 4 sets of 8-12 reps to failure) to a max strength testing group (i.e., 5 sets with a 1 RM), the bodybuilding group gained more muscle. However, the bodybuilding group performed more volume (sets x reps), resulting in larger increases in muscle growth.
Studies have shown that muscle growth is identical when workout volume is equated or similar between powerlifting and bodybuilding workouts. Volume is related to muscle growth up to a certain point; after that, too much volume is counterproductive for muscle growth.
Workout volume has an inverted U-shaped curve, meaning that as volume increases, there is a point at which doing more volume will not further increase muscle growth, and decreases in muscle growth will occur.