Bodybuilding can be a real tease. During the first few months, daily dates with the barbells are rewarded with increased strength, spurts of growth, and the promise of a sculpted physique. But, like so many relationships, it’s not long before it all goes cold and putting on muscle – no matter how hard your work – seems all but impossible.
Welcome to the dreaded plateau. The Fix: Drop Sets.
Sure, magazines will tell you every which way to break through a plateau and gym-rats will regale you with all their shoo-in techniques for breaking through to your stubborn body. And, to be fair, there are many ways to get past a plateau, but when it comes to getting the most bang-for-your-workout-buck, Drop Sets are the most direct path to get real results.
Unlike pyramiding, where you progressively add more weight with each set, you instead decrease the poundage (by about 30%) with every drop. As for the repetitions, try to maintain an 8-10 rep-range and increase that by two to three with every drop.
The best way to incorporate this method into your existing routine is to keep all your exercises the same, but as soon as you’re done with that first set, drop the weight and do it again. Continue this cycle for three to four drops, or until you fail altogether. Three sets of this and, if you did it right, you should be absolutely wiped out.
Trust us, the agony isn’t all for not, there is science behind this sadistic torture. It’s all based around shocking the body, not so much with weight but with intensity. Continually pushing your body to failure, dropping poundage, and making it lift again recruits reserve muscle fibers you wouldn’t normally access if you had just done a normal set. It’s this additional recruitment, coupled with the increased breakdown of those fibers that forces your body to repair, recover and ultimately grow.
To get started, here are a few tips to get the most from a Drop Set routine:
Drop Sets #1 – Keep The Rest Between Sets To A Minimum
The time of rest between drop sets that you want to strive for will be around 0 to 15 seconds. Ideally, you want to keep the rest time as short as possible to keep the intensity high.
Drop Sets #2 – Preparation
Prepare your equipment in advance so you can move quickly from one exercise to the next. This will help with tip #1 and make your drop sets more effective.
Drop Sets #3 – Avoid a Crowded Gym
It is much more practical and easier to perform the drop sets when the gym isn’t crowded. It is a lot easier to surf down the rack when all the dumbbells are there and no one is around to take the weights.
Drop Sets #4 – Don’t Over Use The Drop Set
Because drop sets are great for tearing down muscle fibers, it is important to not over use this technique. The risk of over training can happen if you don’t allow enough time for your muscles to recover.