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

Abstract

Aim

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

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusion

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

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2

Abbreviations

1RM:

One repetition maximal

aEMG:

Averaged value of the rectified EMG

ANOVA:

Analysis of variance

BB:

Biceps brachii

BR:

Brachioradialis

CV:

Coefficient of variation

EMG:

Electromyography

ICC:

Intraclass correlation coefficient

M max :

Maximal motor wave

MVC:

Maximal voluntary contraction

NIRS:

Near-infrared spectroscopy

TOI:

Tissue oxygenation index

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Acknowledgements

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

Funding

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

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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.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jacques Duchateau.

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Stragier, S., Baudry, S., Carpentier, A. et al. Efficacy of a new strength training design: the 3/7 method. Eur J Appl Physiol 119, 1093–1104 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-019-04099-5

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Keywords

  • Muscle strength
  • Hypertrophy
  • Fatigability
  • Electromyography
  • Ultrasonography
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy