Sports Medicine

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 1021–1027 | Cite as

Training to Fatigue: The Answer for Standardization When Assessing Muscle Hypertrophy?

  • Scott J. Dankel
  • Matthew B. Jessee
  • Kevin T. Mattocks
  • J. Grant Mouser
  • Brittany R. Counts
  • Samuel L. Buckner
  • Jeremy P. LoennekeEmail author
Current Opinion


Studies examining resistance training are of importance given that increasing or maintaining muscle mass aids in the prevention or attenuation of chronic disease. Within the literature, it is common practice to administer a set number of target repetitions to be completed by all individuals (i.e. 3 sets of 10) while setting the load relative to each individual’s predetermined strength level (usually a one-repetition maximum). This is done under the assumption that all individuals are receiving a similar stimulus upon completing the protocol, but this does not take into account individual variability with regard to how fatiguing the protocol actually is. Another limitation that exists within the current literature is the reporting of exercise volume in absolute or relative terms that are not truly replicable as they are both load-dependent and will differ based on the number of repetitions individuals can complete at a given relative load. Given that the level of fatigue caused by an exercise protocol is a good indicator of its hypertrophic potential, the most appropriate way to ensure all individuals are given a common stimulus is to prescribe exercise to volitional fatigue. While some authors commonly employ this practice, others still prescribe an arbitrary number of repetitions, which may lead to unfair comparisons between exercise protocols. The purpose of this opinion piece is to provide evidence for the need to standardize studies examining muscle hypertrophy. In our opinion, one way in which this can be accomplished is by prescribing all sets to volitional fatigue.


Resistance Training Resistance Exercise Muscle Hypertrophy Muscle Growth Training Variable 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


The authors are not aware of any affiliations, memberships, funding, or financial holdings that might be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this manuscript. This article was not supported by any funding.

Conflict of interest

Scott Dankel, Matthew Jessee, Kevin Mattocks, J. Grant Mouser, Brittany Counts, Samuel Buckner and Jeremy Loenneke declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott J. Dankel
    • 1
  • Matthew B. Jessee
    • 1
  • Kevin T. Mattocks
    • 1
  • J. Grant Mouser
    • 1
  • Brittany R. Counts
    • 1
  • Samuel L. Buckner
    • 1
  • Jeremy P. Loenneke
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory, Department of Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation ManagementThe University of MississippiUniversityUSA

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