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A Meta-analysis to Determine the Dose Response for Strength Development


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2003 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 456-464
doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000053727.63505.D4
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

RHEA, M. R., B. A. ALVAR, L. N. BURKETT, and S. D. BALL. A Meta-Analysis to Determine the Dose Response for Strength Development. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 456–464, 2003.

Purpose The identification of a quantifiable dose-response relationship for strength training is important to the prescription of proper training programs. Although much research has been performed examining strength increases with training, taken individually, they provide little insight into the magnitude of strength gains along the continuum of training intensities, frequencies, and volumes. A meta-analysis of 140 studies with a total of 1433 effect sizes (ES) was carried out to identify the dose-response relationship.

Methods Studies employing a strength-training intervention and containing data necessary to calculate ES were included in the analysis.

Results ES demonstrated different responses based on the training status of the participants. Training with a mean intensity of 60% of one repetition maximum elicits maximal gains in untrained individuals, whereas 80% is most effective in those who are trained. Untrained participants experience maximal gains by training each muscle group 3 d·wk−1 and trained individuals 2 d·wk−1. Four sets per muscle group elicited maximal gains in both trained and untrained individuals.

Conclusion The dose-response trends identified in this analysis support the theory of progression in resistance program design and can be useful in the development of training programs designed to optimize the effort to benefit ratio.

1Department of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ; and

2Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO

Address for correspondence: Matthew Rhea, Department of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University, East Campus, 6113 S. Kent, CLRB, Mesa, AZ 85212; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2002.

Accepted for publication October 2002.

©2003The American College of Sports Medicine