Drop Sets for Gains

Incorporating drop sets into your workout plan is another effective way to kick up the intensity of your workouts without taking a lot of additional time.

A drop set is a technique where you perform your standard work set(s) of an exercise to almost failure (typically in the 8-12 rep range), then drop the weight and complete the exercise again until total failure. Aim for a 25-50% reduction in weight for each drop set you do for any given exercise.  I have an example of what this looks like below. 

The total muscle exhaustion that occurs during a drop set triggers your body to recruit more muscle fibers than you typically would during your straight set exercises.  This increase in total workout volume and the working muscle's time under tension will result in accelerated muscle growth.  Many bodybuilders love this technique as a way to increase muscle hypertrophy (aka “gains”).  

For the everyday lifter, this is not a technique I’d recommend using all the time, but it can be a great way to challenge your muscles.  Using drop sets can help you avoid hitting stubborn plateaus and are a great approach for those looking to build muscle. (No ladies, you are NOT going to get “bulky”.) I typically program drop sets into my workouts every couple weeks so I can continue to progress with my weight.

A few suggestions:

  1. Make sure to keep rest to a minimum -  you want to perform the drops sets with little to no rest in between (under 10 seconds)
  2. Set up your space before you start - this can be a challenge in a busy gym so keep that in mind
  3. Stay in the 6-12 rep range - start with weight that makes the last couple reps in your work sets a challenge, then drop the weight 25-50% from there

Drop sets can be done in a number of ways  - using dumbbells/bands, stripping barbells, or dropping the stack on selectorized machines - so can be incorporated into many different types of workouts depending on what you have available.  There are also several ways to perform drop sets, so if you’re bored or looking to get fancy, hit me up and I’ll give you some ideas!

Here's a sample chest and back workout using a drop set for the 3rd set:

Exercise:

Flat Bench Press

Incline Chest Press

Dumbbell Pullovers

Incline Flies

Single Arm Rows

Sitting Reverse Flies

Work Set 1

30lb x 8-10 reps

25lb x 8-10 reps

30lb x 8-10 reps

25lb x 8-10 reps

30lb x 8-10 reps

15lb x8-10 reps

Work Set 2

30lb x 8-10 reps

25lb x 8-10 reps

30lb x 8-10 reps

25lb x 8-10 reps

30lb x 8-10 reps

15lb x8-10 reps

Drop Set

20lb to failure

15lb to failure

20lb to failure

15lb to failure

20lb to failure

8lb to failure

You can use drops sets as a full workout or just target a single muscle group with a couple exercises per workout.  There's no one way to do it, but it's very effective nonetheless!

 

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