If you want to maximize hypertrophy while also building strength drop sets are the way to go.
Drop Sets Vs. Traditional Sets
The first Mr. Olympia, Larry Scott, learned about drop sets from Steve “Hercules” Reeves. Rather than using a traditional training scheme that increased the weight every set, as Scott had been doing, Reeves taught him to start with a heavy weight and then decrease the weight as he reached failure, never resting between sets. This method of drop sets for for strength became extremely popular with bodybuilders because it created a tremendous “pump” in the muscles.
How To Train Drop Sets
Let’s say you can curl 100 pounds in a biceps exercise for 10 reps. As soon you complete the 10th rep, immediately decrease the weight by 10 pounds and do as many reps as you can. Then drop the weight another 10 pounds and perform 10 more reps.
Drop Sets For Strength
Although drop sets are a popular method for building muscle, they also can be used to develop strength. The major difference when strength is the goal is to use lower reps, increasing the intensity of the exercise. Intense exercise with heavy weights recruits more fast-twitch motor units, which produce the most powerful muscle contractions.
The following are two workouts using drop sets to increase upper body strength. One is designed for a beginner and the other for an advanced athlete.
The exercises are performed in “push-pull” superset fashion to provide more complete recovery of the muscles, which is necessary to develop higher levels of strength.
The drop sets in these workouts are indicated by a forward slash. If you see the formula 4/4/4 for a set, this means you perform 4 reps, reduce the weight and perform 4 reps, reduce the weight again and do 4 more reps. For best results, rest no more than 10 seconds total between weight reductions.
Beginner Drop Set Workout (drop sets are in “B” supersets)
A1. Scott One-Arm Dumbbell Hammer Curl, 6,6,4,4,2,2, 40X0, 120 seconds rest
A2. Close-Grip Bench Press with Chains, 6,6,4,4,2,2, 40X0, 120 seconds rest
B1. Standing Thick Bar Curl, 3 x 4/4/4, 30X0, 120 seconds rest
B2. Triceps Pressdown, Pronated Grip, 3 x 6/6/6, 4010, 120 seconds rest
Advanced Drop Set Workout (drop sets are in all supersets)
A1. Front Lat Pulldown, Wide Pronated Grip, 3 x 6/6/6, 5010, 120 seconds rest
A2. 30-Degree Incline Barbell Press, 3 x 6/6/6, 4020, 120 seconds rest
B1. Pulldown to Chest, Learning Back, Medium, Parallel Grip, 3 x 6/6/6, 5010, 90 seconds rest
B2. Dumbbell Punch Press, 3 x 6/6/6, 3210, 90 seconds rest
C1. Incline Dumbbell Fly, 3 x 10/10/10, 3010, 60 seconds rest
C2. Incline Prone Lateral Raise, 3 x 10/10/10, 3010, 60 seconds rest
Drop sets are terrific for stimulating muscle growth. And if you program them properly with high-intensities and heavy loads, you'll build muscle that is as strong as it looks.