Save time and get stronger with single-set training!
Single Set Training: What Is It?
In short, single set training is the practice of performing only one exercise at a given time. A common misconception is that it refers to just doing one movement or exercise per muscle group. That’s not true either; there are many different variations of single-set training.
The most popular form of single-set training is the “one rep max” (1RM) method. For example, if you want to bench press 100 pounds for 10 reps, you would perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions with no rest between each set. If your 1RM was 200 pounds, then you’d do five sets of 3 repetitions with no rest between each set. You could even use a weight that was too heavy for your 1RM, but still within your ability to complete the prescribed number of repetitions.
Another popular form of single-set training is the “one repetition maximum” (ORM) method. For example, if you wanted to squat 500 pounds for 10 reps, you would perform three sets of 6 repetitions with no rest between each set. If your 1RM was 250 pounds, then you’d do five sets of 2 repetitions with no rest between each set. Again, you could use a weight that was too heavy for your 1RM, but still within your ability to complete the number of repetitions.
One-set training can be used for all types of exercises, such as:
Calisthenics (push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, etc. No equipment required)
Weightlifting (squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press, etc. Equipment required)
Aerobic exercise (run, jump rope, shadow boxing, etc. No equipment required)
When one-set training is performed with maximum intensity and focused concentration, you can get more out of it than what most people think. You don’t need to train for hours on end to get in great shape. Combine this training with a proper diet and you’ll be well on your way to your fitness goals. It’s truly never too late to start!
If you’re wondering who came up with this type of training, the earliest reference that I’ve found is in the book “The New High Intensity Training” by Ellington Darden, who was inspired by the East German women’s swimming team.
Sources & references used in this article:
Single versus multiple sets of resistance exercise: a meta-regression by JW Krieger – The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 2009 – journals.lww.com
A single set of biomechanical variables cannot predict jump performance across various jumping tasks by LA Johnston, RJ Butler, TL Sparling… – The Journal of Strength …, 2015 – journals.lww.com
Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men by BJ Schoenfeld, B Contreras, J Krieger… – Medicine and science …, 2019 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov