Save Time and Make More Gains: Paired Set Training

Performing paired-sets leads to a greater training volume in less time and can induce greater fatigue.

One of an athlete's greatest limitations is time. With the demands of practices, skill work, sleep, school, etc., it can be hard to find an extra hour to get in a lift. And if athletes are trying to put on muscle mass, the time demand becomes even greater. To gain size, training must be done with a high volume (load x repetitions) and it must induce muscle fatigue—both of which take up a significant amount of time. Luckily, a new study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research on paired sets vs. traditional sets gives athletes a great weapon for making muscle-building workouts more efficient. Here's a quick rundown of the study and the major takeaways for athletes.

Methods

Fifteen trained men were separated into two testing protocols using 10-repetition maximum loads.

The Traditional Set (TS) group performed three sets of Bench Press followed by three sets of Wide-Grip Seated Row. After each set, the group rested for two minutes.

The sequence looked like this:

  • Bench Press
  • Two-minute rest
  • Wide-Grip Seated Row
  • Two-minute rest
  • Repeat sequence for three total sets of each exercise

The Paired Set (PS) group performed three sets of Bench Press and three sets of Wide-Grip Seated Row in an alternating manner. After the Bench Press and Seated Row, the group rested for two minutes.

The sequence looked like this:

  • Bench Press
  • Wide-grip Seated Row
  • Two-minute rest
  • Repeat sequence for three totals sets of each exercise

Results

Volume was greater for all sets in the Paired Set group compared with the Traditional Set group. Muscle fatigue indices were also greater in the Paired Set group compared with the Traditional Set group. Time was less in the Paired Set group, because less rest periods were taken.

Takeaway

Performing paired-sets leads to a greater training volume in less time and can induce greater fatigue. The researchers concluded this provides an "enhanced training stimulus." Next time you have an upper-body workout (Bench Press and Row or Overhead Press and Pull-Up), consider pairing these exercises back-to-back. It will save you precious time and should lead to bigger and better gains.

References:

Paz, G. A., Robbins, D. W., de Oliveira, C. G., Bottaro, M., & Miranda, H. (2017). "Volume load and neuromuscular fatigue during an acute bout of agonist-antagonist paired-set vs. traditional-set training." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(10), 2777-84.

Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock

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Topics: UPPER BODY | BENCH PRESS | MUSCLE BUILDING | STRENGTH | TRAINING | ROW | SUPERSET