Planned Intensity Reduction to Maintain Repetitions Within Recommended Hypertrophy Range

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The authors tested different loading schemes for the number of repetitions completed during multiple sets of resistance exercise.


Twenty-four resistance-trained men (age 24.0 ± 4.5 y, body mass 78.3 ± 10.2 kg, height 177 ± 7 cm) were tested over a 5-wk period. During week 1 a 10-repetition maximum (10RM) in the leg press was determined. During weeks 2–5 subjects completed 4 bouts of leg presses, in a randomized fashion, consisting of 4 sets with 60 s of interset rest. Set 1 of each bout was performed with 10RM, with differing intensity for sets 2–4 as follows: (1) 10RM load for all sets (CON), (2) 5% load reduction after each set (RED 5), (3) 10% load reduction after each set (RED 10), and (4) 15% load reduction after each set (RED 15).


Significant (P < .05) decreases in repetitions completed across sets were observed in CON (sets 2, 3, and 4) and RED 5 (sets 3 and 4). Significant increases in repetitions completed across sets (2, 3, and 4) were observed in RED 10 and RED 15 (P < .05). RED 5 (8.3 ± 0.9 repetitions) and RED 10 (12.0 ± 1.1 repetitions) allowed subjects to maintain the majority (>60%) of sets in the range of 8–12 repetitions, whereas both CON and RED 15 resulted in <50% of sets in the range of 8–12 repetitions, with the majority of sets performed <8 repetitions for CON and >12 repetitions for RED 15.


Reducing load 5–10% in each set should allow maintenance of 8–12RM loads for most sets of resistance exercise.

Medeiros, Mello, Amorim, and Machado are with the Faculty of Biological Sciences and Health, University Iguaçu–UNIG, Itaperuna, Brazil. Koch is with the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, NC.