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What strength training system gives the best results? The pyramid system or the constant load system?

In strength training it does not matter whether you use increasingly larger weights during an exercise, or perform all sets of an exercise with the same load. Brazilian sports scientists from the University of Northern Parana come to this conclusion after an experiment in which 33 women aged 60 and older worked out with weights for 32 weeks.

What strength training system gives the best results? The pyramid system or the constant load system?
The researchers let 33 healthy women, all of whom were sixty years of age or older, training in the same way for half a year. Three times a week the women went to a gym, and each time they trained the most important muscle groups of their bodywith 8 basic exercises. The women did 3 sets per exercise.

Then the real experiment started. The researchers divided the women into 2 groups, and let each group train in a slightly different way. One group used only one load for each exercise. [Constant] With this weight, the women made 8-12 reps. If they could make more reps, they would increase the load a bit.

The other group used different loads. The women used for the first set a load with which they could make just 12 reps, for the second set a heavier load with just 10 reps were possible and finally a slightly heavier load with which they could just make 8. [Pyramid] Just like the other group, this group increased the load if that was possible.

Both groups built up equal strength and muscle mass. Also with regard to the effect on the fat mass, there was no statistically significant difference between the groups.

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What strength training system gives the best results? The pyramid system or the constant load system?

"We conclude that both resistance training system are effective to improve muscular strength and muscle growth, but the pyramid training system is not superior to constant load system for eliciting improvements in muscular strength and muscle growth in previously trained older women", write the Brazilians.

"Based on the results reported in this study, practitioners can decide which system to use based on personal preference and responsiveness."

J Strength Cond Res. 2018 Feb;32(2):545-53.

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