How to Do Drop Sets

I love drop sets. They take a hell out of your tank.

Doing a drop set means doing a set till muscular failure, then lower the weight and continue doing until absolute failure, then repeating again.

You can drop any number of times you want, however, it is not recommended to drop more than 3 times.

Anyway, do you see the point?

By doing 1 set of 8 reps of say 50lbs dumbbell curls, you will only reach temporary muscular failure when you can’t do any more rep.

However, by dropping the weight, you can do more reps and achieve absolute muscular failure.

This will target the stubborn muscle fibers you wouldn’t normally be able to hit and achieve significant muscle hypertrophy.

However, note that this doesn’t lead to an increase in strength, should you be an athlete who’s more interested in strength or speed gains.

To avoid possible confusion, drop sets are also known as breakdowns, descending sets, triple drops, down the rack, running the rack, up the stack or strip sets.


How to Do Drop Sets Tips


1. Minimize rest timing intervals

2. Have your equipment set up in advance (Fail to plan is planning to fail)

3. Don’t drop more than 3 times

4. Do between 6-12 reps for each drop set

5. And ensure that it’s 6-12 reps MAX weight

6. Use sparingly to avoid overtraining


How to Do Drop Sets (By Tom Venuto)

1. Barbell Drop Sets
Have friends to help you take the weights off to maximize the effectiveness of your drop set.

2. Machine Drop Sets
Recommended if you are alone in the gym, since it all entails is taking the pin out and choosing a lower weight stack.

3. Dumbbell Drop Sets
Basically you do your exercises at the rack as it will be convenient to easily switch between dumbbells.

4. Tight Drop Sets
This means drop sets of around 5-20% reduction in weight. Much tougher, and more often used for small muscle groups and isolation exercises, because you wouldn’t feel as tired as when you attempt compound exercises like squats.

5.  Wide Drop Sets
The opposite of tight drop sets, wide drop sets mean dropping your weights by a larger margin. More frequently used for compound exercises like deadlifts and squats because they are much more taxing on the body.

6. 50% Drop Set (Halving/6-20 method)
This is a very drop set to try. It means doing 6 reps max and then dropping the weight by half or 50% to do for 20 reps. The idea is to hit both the fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers and it thus, extremely effective in achieving muscular hypertrophy.

7. Power Drop Sets
The philosophy of power drop sets is that low reps and heavy weights is the most conducive for muscle growth. Hence, for every set that you drop down, ensure that you can only do the weight for a 6-7 rep max. A rough estimation is a 10% to 15% decrease in weight.

8. Ascending (6-12-20) or Descending (12-8-4-2) Reps Drop Sets
An ascending rep drop set simply means doing 6 reps for the first set, 12 reps for the second set with lighter weights and then 20 reps for the third set with lighter weights. This is achieved by using a wide drop set (point 5).

A descending rep drop set means 12 reps, 8 reps 4 reps, and then 2 reps (all weight decreases in weight). This is achieved by using a tight drop set (point 4).

9. Grip/Stance Change
This can be used to hit your muscles from various angles. For instance, a narrow grip and a wide grip pull up, etc.

10. Rest Pause Drop Sets
Between each weight drop, you can choose to rest briefly (e.g. 5, 10, 15 seconds sequentially) before doing a heavier weight.

11. Drop – Superset
This is the combination of drop sets and supersets. Basically it’s doing supersets but with the principles of drop sets.

Note: Drop sets are extremely intense and require a lot of focus. It is also easy to overtrain with drop sets, so don’t do more than one or two drop sets per muscle group each workout.



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