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Science versus opinion
  1. R N Carpinelli
  1. Human Performance Laboratory, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY 11530, USA;

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    Dr Berger recently responded1 to my article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine entitled: Berger in retrospect: effect of varied weight training programmes on strength.2 Dr Berger presented no scientific evidence to support his opinion on single versus multiple sets, cited references that were irrelevant to the topic, and challenged the reported statistical analyses.

    Dr Berger claimed that most athletic and therapeutic professionals have added credence and support to the belief that multiple sets are required for optimal gains in strength because they use multiple sets in their practice and research (p 372).1 However, just using multiple sets in practice is not evidence that multiple sets are superior to a single set; it merely perpetuates an unsubstantiated belief. Table 4 (p 322) in my retrospect2 lists 57 studies that reported no significant difference in strength gains as a result of performing a greater number of sets. Dr Berger3 failed to cite a single study to support his opinion on the superiority of multiple sets. In fact, Dr Berger’s own follow up studies,4,5 which are described in my retrospect,2 failed to support his opinion—that is, a greater number of sets did not result in a significantly greater strength gain in either of his follow up studies.4,5

    Dr Berger claimed that some early studies compared different weight training programmes (p 372),1 and he cited five studies.6–10 However, these studies (described below) are irrelevant to the issue of single versus multiple set resistance training.

    Delorme et al6 treated eight men and 11 women with poliomyelitis-weakened and atrophied knee extensor muscles. Their goal was to increase muscular strength and hypertrophy. The patients performed three sets of 10 repetitions (intensity not reported) of knee extension and leg press exercises four …

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