Some thoughts on resistance training volume and hypertrophy

(…) we show that increases in muscle hypertrophy follow a dose-response relationship, with increasingly greater gains achieved with higher training volumes.Thus, those seeking to maximize muscular growth need to allot a greater amount of weekly time to achieve this goal.

In an effort to ensure that swelling in the muscles from training did not obscure results, images were obtained 48–72 hours before commencement of the study, as well as after the final RT session. This is consistent with research showing that acute increases in MT return to baseline within 48 hours following a RT session (19).

Pilot data from our laboratory suggest that the acute increase in MTH (~12%) following bench press returns to pre-exercise levels within 24 h and is maintained for up to 48 h after the session.

Chronological order from top to bottom.

In an effort to help ensure that swelling in the muscles from training did not obscure results, images were obtained 48–72 hours before commencement of the study and after the final training session. This is consistent with research showing that acute increases in MT return to baseline within 48 hours after a resistance training session (33).

Table 2 from Ferreira et al., 2017

“Although these effects are attenuated with regimented exercise via the repeated bout effect, significant swelling nevertheless persists even in trained subjects with increases in muscle girth seen 48 hours postworkout (71)”

“The paper by Huan (sic) and colleagues , a chronic training study, measured muscle thickness a mere 24 hours after training, yet there was no evidence of swelling according to the ultrasound data In fact, the muscle thickness changes in the Huan paper were quite small, despite ramping the volume up to over 30 weekly sets, which would refute any notion of swelling.

“The load was adjusted for each exercise as needed on successive sets to ensure that subjects achieved momentary failure in the target repetition range. Thus, if a subject completed more than 12 repetitions to momentary failure in a given set, the load was increased based on the supervising researcher‟s assessment of what would be required to reach momentary failure in the desired loading range; if less than 8 repetitions were accomplished, the load was similarly decreased.”

Comparison of mean CSA between VOL and INT.
Comparison of the volume load between VOL and INT.
Figure 2 from Heaselgrave et al., 2018

Brad Schoenfeld posted about a study by Damas et al. demonstrating the impact of the repeated bout effect on muscle damage. After the first training session (6 sets on quadriceps), there was a significant increase in muscle damage at 48 hours. This also coincided with an increase in soreness and a decline in MVC, both indirect markers of muscle damage. While edema was not assessed, it can be inferred that there would have been edema present. After 19 training sessions, there was no longer muscle damage at 48 hours after doing 6 sets. There was also no decline in MVC and no increase in soreness. Thus, it can be inferred that there would be no edema present.

(…) Thus, while edema cannot be ruled out without directly testing for it, and it also cannot be ruled out as a contributor (although not the sole reason for hypertrophy) that may reduce the magnitude of the differences between groups, it is unlikely that edema is a contributor over an 8-week training program due to the combination of data showing that 48-hour damage and edema vanish after several weeks of training (…)

Figure 2 from Damas et al., 2016.

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