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DRINKWATER ERIC J.; LAWTON, TRENT W.; MCKENNA, MICHAEL J.; LINDSELL, ROD P.; HUNT, PATRICK H.; PYNE, DAVID B.
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2007
ORIGINAL RESEARCH: PDF Only

ABSTRACTSome research suggests that strength improvements are greater when resistance training continues to the point at which the individual cannot perform additional repetitions (i.e., repetition failure). Performing additional forced repetitions after the point of repetition failure and thus further increasing the set volume is a common resistance training practice. However, whether short-term use of this practice increases the magnitude of strength development with resistance training is unknown and was investigated here. Twelve basketball and 10 volleyball players trained 3 sessions per week for 6 weeks, completing either 4 X 6, 8 X 3, or 12 X 3 (sets X repetitions) of bench press per training session. Compared with the 8 X 3 group, the 4 X 6 protocol involved a longer work interval and the 12 X 3 protocol involved higher training volume, so each group was purposefully designed to elicit a different number of forced repetitions per training session. Subjects were tested on 3- and 6-repetition maximum (RM) bench press (81.5 ± 9.8 and 75.9 ± 9.0 kg, respectively, mean ± SD), and 40-kg Smith Machine bench press throw power (589 ± 100 W). The 4 X 6 and 12 X 3 groups had more forced repetitions per session (p > 0.01) than did the 8 X 3 group (4.1 ± 2.6, 3.1 ± 3.5, and 1.2 ± 1.8 repetitions, respectively), whereas the 12 X 3 group performed approximately 40% greater work and had 30% greater concentric time. As expected, all groups improved 3RM (4.5 kg, 95% confidence limits, 3.1–6.0), 6RM (4.7 kg, 3.1–6.3), bench press throw peak power (57 W, 22–92), and mean power (23 W, 4–42) (all p ≤ 0.02). There were no significant differences in strength or power gains between groups. In conclusion, when repetition failure was reached, neither additional forced repetitions nor additional set volume further improved the magnitude of strength gains. This finding questions the efficacy of adding additional volume by use of forced repetitions in young athletes with moderate strength training experience.

Some research suggests that strength improvements are greater when resistance training continues to the point at which the individual cannot perform additional repetitions (i.e., repetition failure). Performing additional forced repetitions after the point of repetition failure and thus further increasing the set volume is a common resistance training practice. However, whether short-term use of this practice increases the magnitude of strength development with resistance training is unknown and was investigated here. Twelve basketball and 10 volleyball players trained 3 sessions per week for 6 weeks, completing either 4 X 6, 8 X 3, or 12 X 3 (sets X repetitions) of bench press per training session. Compared with the 8 X 3 group, the 4 X 6 protocol involved a longer work interval and the 12 X 3 protocol involved higher training volume, so each group was purposefully designed to elicit a different number of forced repetitions per training session. Subjects were tested on 3- and 6-repetition maximum (RM) bench press (81.5 ± 9.8 and 75.9 ± 9.0 kg, respectively, mean ± SD), and 40-kg Smith Machine bench press throw power (589 ± 100 W). The 4 X 6 and 12 X 3 groups had more forced repetitions per session (p > 0.01) than did the 8 X 3 group (4.1 ± 2.6, 3.1 ± 3.5, and 1.2 ± 1.8 repetitions, respectively), whereas the 12 X 3 group performed approximately 40% greater work and had 30% greater concentric time. As expected, all groups improved 3RM (4.5 kg, 95% confidence limits, 3.1–6.0), 6RM (4.7 kg, 3.1–6.3), bench press throw peak power (57 W, 22–92), and mean power (23 W, 4–42) (all p ≤ 0.02). There were no significant differences in strength or power gains between groups. In conclusion, when repetition failure was reached, neither additional forced repetitions nor additional set volume further improved the magnitude of strength gains. This finding questions the efficacy of adding additional volume by use of forced repetitions in young athletes with moderate strength training experience.

Address correspondence to Eric Drinkwater, edrinkwater@csu.edu.au.

© 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association