European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 5, pp 1093–1104 | Cite as

Efficacy of a new strength training design: the 3/7 method

  • Séverine Stragier
  • Stéphane Baudry
  • Alain Carpentier
  • Jacques DuchateauEmail author
Original Article



This study investigated the efficacy of a new strength training method on strength gain, hypertrophy, and neuromuscular fatigability.


The training exercise consisted of elbow flexion against a load of ~ 70% of one repetition maximal (1RM). A new method (3/7 method) consisting of five sets of an increasing number of repetitions (3 to 7) during successive sets and brief inter-set intervals (15 s) was repeated two times after 150 s of recovery and compared to a method consisting of eight sets of six repetitions with an inter-set interval of 150 s (8 × 6 method). Subjects trained two times per week during 12 weeks. Strength gain [1RM load and maximal isometric voluntary contraction (MVC)], EMG activity of biceps brachii and brachioradialis, as well as biceps’ brachii thickness were measured. Change in neuromuscular fatigability was assessed as the maximal number of repetitions performed at 70% of 1RM before and after training.


Both 3/7 and 8 × 6 methods increased 1RM load (22.2 ± 7.4 and 12.1 ± 6.6%, respectively; p < 0.05) and MVC force (15.7 ± 8.2 and 9.5 ± 9.5%; p < 0.05) with a greater 1RM gain (p < 0.05) for the 3/7 method. Normalized (%Mmax) EMG activity of elbow flexors increased (p < 0.05) similarly (14.5 ± 23.2 vs. 8.1 ± 20.5%; p > 0.05) after both methods but biceps’ brachii thickness increased to a greater extent (9.6 ± 3.6 vs. 5.5 ± 3.7%; p < 0.05) for the 3/7 method. Despite subjects performing more repetitions with the same absolute load after training, neuromuscular fatigability increased (p < 0.05) after the two training methods.


The 3/7 method provides a better stimulus for strength gain and muscle hypertrophy than the 8 × 6 method.


Muscle strength Hypertrophy Fatigability Electromyography Ultrasonography Near-infrared spectroscopy 



One repetition maximal


Averaged value of the rectified EMG


Analysis of variance


Biceps brachii




Coefficient of variation




Intraclass correlation coefficient


Maximal motor wave


Maximal voluntary contraction


Near-infrared spectroscopy


Tissue oxygenation index



The authors thank Angélique Manier, Maxime Tomi and Joachim Ribanje for their assistance in supervising training sessions and in collecting data.

Author contributions

JD, SB, AC conceived the study. SS collected and analysed the data and prepared the figures. All authors interpreted the results, contributed to the writing of the paper and edited the final draft of the manuscript.


This study was supported by a grant of the Sports Ministry of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation of Belgium.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied Biology and NeurophysiologyUniversité libre de Bruxelles (ULB)BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory for Biometry and Exercise NutritionUniversité libre de Bruxelles (ULB)BrusselsBelgium

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