Should I do single or multiple sets per exercise?

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Q. I heard one guy saying that all bodybuilders are switching their training to just 2-3 sets on each body part and going all out with maximum weight. I always train to failure but use 5-9 sets. What is your opinion on this?
A. This system of training was very popular in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, although it’s been popping up in various guises since the early part of the twentieth century.

The latest version - high intensity training - was introduced to the world in the early 1970’s by Arthur Jones, the inventor of the Nautilus range of exercise machines. Back in the days when training for two hours, twice a day was the norm, Jones caused controversy when he claimed that you could actually get better results with very short, infrequent weight training routines.

Despite the claims made by many authors, the majority of scientific evidence shows that multiple sets (training as you are currently doing) deliver better results than single sets. If you’re just starting a weight training program, or you want to maintain (rather than gain) muscle size and strength, then you’ll probably notice little difference between single and multiple sets. And, if you only have a limited amount of time to spend in the gym, then one set is better than no sets. But, if you’ve been training for some time, a multiple-set programme will deliver faster results than one using single sets.

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