Single vs multiple sets: Finally, the answer! (We hope.)

Oh, how the debate has raged over the years. Single sets to failure? Multiple sets? How many?

Leaving aside the fact that the body is not great at counting, which often invalidates many of the Baroque mathematical elaborations of bodybuilders, and forgetting that we should just lift the damn heavy thing until it isn’t as heavy and then go find a heavier thing, the question of whether single sets of exercises is better than multiple sets is actually kind of a good question for folks seeking optimal efficiency and results from their workouts.

Well, here’s the answer. We think. A meta-analysis concluded that “2 to 3 sets per exercise are associated with 46% greater strength gains than 1 set, in both trained and untrained subjects.”

There you have it. 46% more — that’s nearly half — and that’s good enough for me.

Krieger, James. “Single Versus Multiple Sets of Resistance Exercise: A Meta-Regression.” The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.