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If the gym is your therapy and you’re happy spending hours training, carry on. But if you’re not that keen on 2h workouts and just want to get healthier, read on.

Being in the gym can be enjoyable, but you don’t have to spend long hours working out. You may be surprised to find out that you don’t even have to visit the gym more than once a week. Yup.

Just 1 set per week 

According to recent research (all linked below), doing 1 heavy set per week is all you need to build maximum strength*. 

The quality and intensity of this set will be different from your regular training. It must be of high quality and likely close to failure to maximise your results of this single set.

1/9 of your training volume

10 sets per muscle group are “optimal” for maximising muscle gain, but you don’t need to do 5 sets for 50% of the gains — just 1-4 sets per week have been shown to give ~60% of maximum muscle gain*.

This means that you can reduce your training volume by up to 90% without losing gains*. Woah.

*Note: everyone is different, so your results may vary. The research shows averages, but it is useful to remember that participants fall on both ends of the spectrum, or be non-responders. 

Time-saving tip

Keen to reduce training time but want to do more than a single set? Use supersets. They’re not new to the game as they’ve always been a good strategy to save time. 

Doing non-overlapping supersets (e.g. leg press and lateral raise, bench press and calf raise) can help you give more during your set and get more during your rest. 

You can also use the rest time to do mobility work as an active recovery. Not sure where to start in terms of mobility? You can find flexibility, mobility, and yoga programs on Ganbaru.

The bottom line

So, if losing gains has been the reason why you’ve held back from other forms of exercise, now you know it won’t happen that easily.

At Ganbaru, we love combining different training styles. You can explore different types of movement and become super efficient with your health and training. Start using Ganbaru today with a free 7-day trial!

Remember: these aren’t recommendations or rules, just scientific findings. If you’re happy grinding in the gym, you do you!

References

  1. Ralston, G.W., Kilgore, L., Wyatt, F.B. and Baker, J.S. (2017). The Effect of Weekly Set Volume on Strength Gain: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 47(12), pp.2585–2601. doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0762-7. ‌
  2. Momma, H., Kawakami, R., Honda, T. and Sawada, S.S. (2022). Muscle-strengthening activities are associated with lower risk and mortality in major non-communicable diseases: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies. British Journal of Sports Medicine, [online] 56(13). doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2021-105061. ‌
  3. Schoenfeld, B.J., Ogborn, D. and Krieger, J.W. (2017). Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of sports sciences, [online] 35(11), pp.1073–1082. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1210197. ‌
  4. Rhea, M.R., Alvar, B.A., Ball, S.D. and Burkett, L.N. (2002). Three sets of weight training superior to 1 set with equal intensity for eliciting strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, [online] 16(4), pp.525–529. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12423180/. ‌
  5. BICKEL, C.S., CROSS, J.M. and BAMMAN, M.M. (2011). Exercise Dosing to Retain Resistance Training Adaptations in Young and Older Adults. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(7), pp.1177–1187. doi:https://doi.org/10.1249/mss.0b013e318207c15d. ‌

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