By Oliver Wolter
How To Find The Optimum Number Of Sets For Muscle Building
The number of sets is an important point in every training plan.
There are many different opinions on how many sets one should do. This goes on from "one set is enough!" to "it must be at least 10!".
Personally I do not care for those philosophies anymore - I define them as superstition or close minded opinions.
I only go by one philosophy: Results - Results - Results!
My experience tells me that the same thing does not work for everyone. For some it might be enough to just do one set of each exercise, while others need to do one set of exercise A and two or three sets of exercise B for the biggest results.
Don't be blinded by philosophies and decide using common sense. This means to do what really gets you the best results. Everything else is useless.
But how to determine the optimum number of sets?
The easiest way is to simply measure the reaction of the muscle and go from there. This was confirmed again and again in many tests. This easy method has a magical way to determine how a training plan will do on a long term bases.
Basically it's logical - a training plan must work in every unit for a certain goal - and not just in three weeks.
I often heard promises like: "Just endure and you will see results"
Sadly I never saw those results for myself - nor on anyone else I worked with. Not after three, nor six weeks. A training plan must work right away.
That's why we can see how a training plan would work in the future by simply looking at the reaction of the muscle using this simple test.
But now lets get started:
Step 1: Do the first set of the exercise (Do as many reps as possible.)
Step 2: Measure your muscle (After finishing the set measure your muscle instantly and have a 90 second break afterwards.)
Step 3: Do the second set of the exercise (Again, do as many reps as possible.)
Step 4: Measure your muscle (Measure your muscle and have another 90 second break.)
Step 5: Do the third set of the exercise (Again, do as many reps as possible.)
Step 6: Measure your muscle
Step 7: Analysis
Did your muscle grow more after the second set than after the first set? Or did it grow more after the third set than after the second set? Carefully look at your data. If the muscle did not grow over all three sets or even decreased compared to the first set, it means that you should only do one set here. If however the muscle grew after the second set, you should at least do two sets.
If the muscle grew even more after the third set it means that you should do at least 3 sets and now continue doing a fourth set, and then having a 90 second break again. Keep on measuring your muscle and increase the number of sets until your muscle does not grow any further.
This is why you should repeat these steps if your muscle grew more from set to set.
If you continue to improve every exercise by using the optimum number of sets you will notice that you get even more dramatic results in your training.
Oliver Wolter is a world renowed fitness and bodybuilding expert. He is the creator of X-Size Bodybuilding Software.