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Strength Training and Postmenopausal Women
National Strength and Conditioning Association


National Strength and Conditioning Association Strength Training and Postmenopausal Women

Think One-Set Training is Enough? Think Again
The question of using single-set vs. multiple-set training remains difficult to solve even after years of extensive research. The final vote has yet to be determined due to the vast number of variables involved such as: equipment usage, intensity, muscle groups studied, age of participants, beginning fitness level, and duration of the study.

It has been documented that in untrained individuals, a single-set training program helps maintain strength gains. However, once trained, will a single-set help maintain the same strength?

No, according to a recent study published by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) in its Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (November 2004). In fact, while using single-set training, the study finds that strength actually decreases in postmenopausal women.

Researchers from the University of Erlangen, Germany found that in pre-trained subjects, multiple-set training continues to work at increasing strength, while single-set training not only does not maintain strength, but decreases it.

Seventy-one well trained postmenopausal women participated in the study. The subjects were divided into two groups. Group one began the first 12-week session by performing a single-set training regimen, while group two started with a multiple-set protocol. A five-week rejuvenation period occurred, where the women conducted their regular training schedule. During the final 12-week period the groups switched—with group one performing the multiple-set session, and group two engaging in the single-set protocol.

At the end of the eight-month study, the use of multiple-sets showed increases in both groups, whereas in single-set training, muscle strength decreased in both groups.

The authors suggest that the decision to use either a single- or multiple-set training regimen depends on the status of the individual and the main objectives of the training program. For the untrained, it is advisable to use a single-set during the initial training months. However, once strength becomes a training focus, multiple-sets must be utilized to continue achieving strength gains.

Determining your fitness goals is an important process before beginning a training program. The NSCA recommends you work with a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) or NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT®) before starting a weight training program. Strength and conditioning professionals can be found on the NSCA web site at

About the NSCA
The National Strength and Conditioning Association is the leading authority on strength and conditioning. For 27 years, the NSCA has bridged science and application to provide reliable, research-based, strength and conditioning information to its members and the general public. With nearly 30,000 members worldwide, the NSCA is the largest health and fitness association in the world. For more information on NSCA professional journals, cutting edge conferences, educational text and videos, or other services, visit

Note: The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research is the official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and is available from Alliance Communication Group at 800-627-0932. For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 18, No. 4, page 689-694) or to speak with a leading strength and conditioning expert on the topic, you may contact the NSCA Public Relations Department at 800-815-6826