Being a great advocate of targeting a muscle from different angles, I have decided to substitute the regular 3 sets of 8-12 reps with 2 sets of 8-12 reps (for every muscle) while keeping the total volume same and increasing the total number of exercises. For example:

12 sets of chest comprising of 4 exercises

Will replace:

12 sets of chest comprising of 6 exercises

The end goal is to gain size while building symmetrical muscle definition. So, my question is, are 2 sets for 8-12 reps similar, if not better, for providing sufficient levels of muscle hypertrophy?

  • 1
    Your muscles can’t count reps. They have no idea if you’re doing 2 sets of 8-12 or 3 sets of 8-12. All the muscle really knows is time under tension. One popular way of doing such a thing is to make the eccentric slower. Given the right weight and time under tension, it doesn’t really matter how many reps you do. 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps is just a good figurehead for a decent recovery while providing good time under tension. Jeff Cavaliers explains all this very well: youtu.be/vKDYfRtfqng
    – Frank
    Apr 22, 2018 at 16:00
  • Well, I think you misunderstood my question. Please read it again.
    – Zaitorious
    Apr 22, 2018 at 18:52
  • You asked if 2 sets for 8-12 reps are better for providing sufficient levels of muscle hypertrophy. I am stating that I think you should focus more on effort and less on numbers of sets and reps. As I said, it’s about time under tension and not the fact that you counted 24 overall reps as opposed to 36 reps. Make the total time under contraction with those 2 sets of 8-12 as long as your total time when you do 3 sets and there is no difference.
    – Frank
    Apr 22, 2018 at 18:58
  • So, you're saying that if I do 2 sets of 6 different exercises instead of 3 sets of 4 different exercises for a particular muscle, there is no hypertrophic difference as long as the time under tension remains constant, right?
    – Zaitorious
    Apr 22, 2018 at 19:21
  • As long as the time under tension is the same, it really shouldn’t matter. Again, your muscles can’t count reps so as long as the same amount of tension is applied over time, the results will be virtually the same. That is, of course, as long as we’re talking about hypertrophy.
    – Frank
    Apr 22, 2018 at 19:28


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