A new-ish client at our personal training gym in Timonium just asked me why she was doing “only” two sets while her friends did three (or even four) sets of certain exercises.
So here are two simple reasons we start new clients with two rounds of each exercise:
Minimum Effective Dose
This is a concept most commonly associated with medicine but applies to fitness also.
Your aim is to do the least amount of exercise you need to reach your fitness goal. More is not better.
Your early gains in strength occur in your nervous system, NOT in your muscles.
The reason we do two sets (versus one) is to practice the exercise. Two sets is sufficient practice. An additional set does not improve performance.
It also takes a few weeks for your tendons and ligaments to adapt to the stress of strength training.
Adding a third set too early in your program increases the stress by 50% with NO additional gains in strength.
Keep this in mind if you’re just starting a new exercise program. If you need help, just let me know.