Does a low-load high volume resistance exercise stimulate muscle protein synthesis more effectively than a high-load low volume resistance exercise in young men?

From: PLoS ONE

Journal rating:
rating: 100%
Study Quality:
rating: 25%

Overall Reliability

Article Quality:
rating: 25%
rating: 0%


  • 15 males (average age 21 years)


  • Participants performed 4 sets of leg extensions at different exercise loads and/or volumes: 90% of repetition maximum (1RM) until failure (90FAIL), 30% 1RM work-matched to 90%FAIL (30WM), or 30% 1RM performed until failure (30FAIL).


  • Low-load high volume resistance exercise (30FAIL) is more effective at increasing muscle protein synthesis than high-load low volume resistance exercise (90FAIL). Specifically, the 30FAIL protocol caused similar increases in protein synthesis to that induced by the 90FAIL protocol at 4 h post-exercise but this response was sustained at 24 hours only in 30FAIL
  • The results support previous findings that demonstrated after 16 weeks of isometric training at 30% maximal voluntary contraction that significant increases in fibre area can be achieved


  • Yes (with confidence)


Editors Notes

  • It is commonly recommended that high-load contractions (i.e., approx 70% of 1 repetition maximum; 1RM) be performed to provide an optimal stimulus for muscle growth. It has recently been established, however, that myofibrillar protein synthesis is already maximally stimulated at 60% 1RM.
  • The explanation of the resistance exercise undertaken in the study is not clear. 30WM is defined as '30% 1RM work-matched to 90%FAIL'. It is understood that this implies an exercise completed at 30% of the 90% 1RM. However, the definition can be interpreted in several different ways.
  • The study and number of participants was small.  This casts doubt over the validity of the resullts.