Resistance Training Systems

Many resistance training systems can be used to enhance muscular fitness. Some systems have been scientifically proven to be effective, whereas others are based on anecdotal evidence. The wide variety of systems illustrates the types of programs that can be developed by manipulating program variables. Five of the most common resistance training systems are the single-set system, multiple-set system, circuit training system, preexhaustion system, and assisted training system.

Single-Set System

This system of resistance training is one of the oldest and consists of performing a single set of a predetermined number of repetitions (e. g., 8-12) until volitional fatigue. More recently, the single-set approach has become known as the high-intensity training (HIT) system. This time-efficient method of resistance training can be an effective method for people who have no resistance training experience or who have not trained for several years (85). Since the acute adaptations to resistance training (i. e., 6-12 wk) are primarily due to neuromuscular adaptations (79), a single-set system can be an appropriate method of training for beginners or very deconditioned people, especially since this approach may promote participation and improve compliance versus more time-consuming training systems.

Multiple-Set System

The multiple-set system is an effective training method for enhancing strength and power. This system of training became popular in the 1940s and originally consisted of 3 sets of 10 repetitions with increasing weights. For example, the classic multiple-set protocol used by Delorme in his pioneering rehabilitation work involved performing the first set of 10 repetitions at 50% of 10RM, the second set of 10 repetitions at 75% of 10RM, and the third set of 10 repetitions at 100% of 10RM (26). Over the years, many multiple-set programs using various combinations of sets and repetitions have been shown to be effective. For example, the pyramid system is a multiple-set system in which the weight increases progressively over several sets so that fewer and fewer repetitions can be performed (see table 13.6). For continued progression in a resistance training program, multiple sets should be used. However, in order to reduce the risk of overtraining, the total number of sets performed per training session should gradually increase. In addition, not all exercises need to be performed for the same number of sets.

Circuit Training System

This system of training involves performing a series of resistance exercises in a circuit with minimal rest (about 30 sec) between exercises (see figure 13.8). Generally, moderate weights are used (about 60% of 1RM), and 10 to 15 repetitions are performed at each exercise station. In addition to increasing muscular strength and local muscular endurance, circuit training also can improve CRF. However, gains in maximal oxygen consumption resulting from aerobic training are far greater than those resulting from circuit training. Starting with a 1 min rest between exercises and gradually reducing the rest to the desired range as the body adapts is recommended when a person is beginning circuit training. A sample circuit training program is illustrated in figure 13.8

Preexhaustion System

This training method consists of performing successive sets of two exercises for the same target muscle or muscle group. For example, after performing one set to volitional fatigue on the bench press, the participant immediately performs a set of dumbbell flys to facilitate chest development. This type of training forces the target muscle group (e. g., pectoralis major) to work longer and harder and is often used to increase muscle hypertrophy.

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