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Physical Performance and Electromyographic Responses to an Acute Bout of Paired Set Strength Training Versus Traditional Strength Training

Robbins, Daniel W1,2; Young, Warren B1; Behm, David G3; Payne, Warren R1; Klimstra, Marc D4

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 5 - p 1237-1245
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc60ec
Original Article

Robbins, DW, Young, WB, Behm, DG, Payne, WR, and Klimstra, MD. Physical performance and electromyographic responses to an acute bout of paired set strength training versus traditional strength training. J Strength Cond Res 24(5): 1237-1245, 2010-The objective of this study was to investigate the acute effects of performing paired set (PS) vs. traditional set (TS) training over 3 consecutive sets on volume load (VL) and electromyographic (EMG) activity of the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, latissimus dorsi, and trapezius muscles. Following a familiarization session 16 trained males performed 2 testing protocols using 4 repetition maximum loads: TS (3 sets of bench pull [Bpull] followed by 3 sets of bench press [Bpress] performed in approximately 20 minutes) or PS (3 sets of Bpull and 3 sets of Bpress performed in an alternating manner in approximately 10 minutes). Bpull and Bpress VL decreased significantly from set 1 to set 2 and from set 2 to set 3 under both conditions. There was no difference between VL per set, or over the sessions, between the 2 conditions. PS was determined to be more efficient (VL/time) as compared to TS. EMG activity of the 4 monitored muscles was not different for the 2 conditions or within each condition over the 3 sets. However, there was a significant within-set response in EMG activity in the Bpress exercise. The data suggest that a 4-minute rest interval between sets may not be adequate to maintain VL using either protocol. The data further suggest that PS training may be as effective as TS training in terms of VL maintenance and more effective in terms of efficiency. The comparison of EMG activity between the PS and TS protocols suggests that the level of neuromuscular fatigue does not differ under the 2 conditions. PS training would appear to be an effective method of exercise with respect to VL maintenance and efficiency.

1School of Human Movement and Sport Sciences, University of Ballarat, Ballarat, Victoria, Australia; 2School of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia; 3School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's Newfoundland, Canada; and 4School of Exercise Science, Physical, and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada

Address correspondence to Daniel Robbins,

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association