Any guy going to a gym would follow one particular drill when it comes to strength training and weight-lifting. This drill includes doing one set of an exercise, rest for a bit and then repeat it. If you want to increase your muscle growth and buff your body up, you need not only focus on straight sets but on strength training with drop sets.
Straight sets are effective drills when you want to target the only type of muscle fibers. However, when it comes to targeting your whole body and growing it, strength training through drop sets is the perfect solution for you.
What are drop sets?
Drop sets are also known as descending sets, strip sets, or running the rack, which involves indulging in multiple sets of exercise until failure, with very little rest and using lighter loads. The main concept of strength training with drop sets is to increase the number of reps you can perform while working out with your full potential, something quite near to failure.
In short, a drop set is a technique in which you aim to reduce the time between different sets and consequently lower the weight, which will help you reap benefits. It is also called a ‘multi-poundage’ system, which was discovered by Henry Atkins in 1947.
In this technique, as you are subsequently lowering the load of your weights, you are allowing different muscle fibers to work. In doing so, you are allowing for the muscles to grow, which could not be possible if you were applying the technique of straight sets which use only one type of muscle fibers.
Drop sets help you in increasing your muscle strength and endurance. You aretraining your muscles to work as hard as possible. You might feel as if your legs and arms might work the next day, but eventually, you will be able to feel stronger and see the benefits in the future.
How to master the drop-set training?
As the strength-training with drop sets is of high intensity, it is suitable to perform them for only one or two exercises which are targeting only one or two muscle groups. Moreover, you should apply this technique towards the end of a training session.
The main concept of drop-set training is to rest as little as possible. The rest should be long enough that you can reduce weight. The most appropriate machines for drop-set training are dumbbells and cable machines because other machines such as barbells take time to strip off their plates.
Remember, the more time for rest you take, the lesser there will be tension and metabolic stress for your muscles. This will, in turn, reduce the benefits that you can reap from strength training with drop sets.
For instance, choose any weight which you can lift eight to ten times with a perfect form. Once you complete the set, quickly change the weight and choose a lighter one, which is approximately twenty to twenty-five percent lighter than the first one. Perform as many reps as you can and repeat this drill four to five times.
This is just one way of performing drop-set training. There are numerous variations to strength training with drop sets. They include:
- Running the rack:
This technique is like the most traditional technique to perform drop-set training. Running the rack requires you to use dumbbells. You pick a dumbbell weight which is more or less the technical failure for you, that is the highest weight possible for you to pick.
Once you complete the reps with the technical failure, you pick up a lighter weight off the rack and then repeat the drill with as many reps as possible for you. Then, you can start taking off all the weights down the rack. Hence, the name.
The key here is to choose the heaviest weight possible in the first step. Then, start reducing the weights, which gives off an impression of going down the rack.
Here is a simple example for you, to get a clear understanding of the drop-set training.
Set 1: Choose the highest weight possible for you. You can decide the highest weight in terms of how many reps you can do. For instance, the highest weight for you can be the one with which you can perform four to six reps.
Set 2: Once you reach the technical failure, choose the weight which is five pounds lesser than the first one. Do eight to ten reps with that.
Set 3: Again, pick a weight that is 5 pounds lesser than the previous one. Do ten to twelve reps in that.
Set 4: Reduce weight by 5 pounds. Do twelve to fifteen reps.
Set 5: Reduce weight by five to ten pounds. Do fifteen to twenty reps.
- Plate Stripping:
In this variation of the drop set technique, you have to use a barbell, in which plates are stripped from each slide until there are none. As mentioned above, stripping off plates is time-consuming which can lead to a reduction in your muscle tension and metabolic stress. Therefore, this variation can only be done if you have a training partner or coach alongside you.
Your training coach or partner can help you strip off the plates while you are still in that position and until you are close to muscular exhaustion. Here is a simple example for you explaining how this variation works:
Set 1: Choose the barbell with maximum plates that you can carry. You can decide the maximum plates by the number of reps you do. For instance, if you can do four to six reps with the ‘n’ number of plates, then choose that.
Set 2: Once you reach technical failure, strip plates worth 10 pounds. Do 8 to 10 reps with this one.
Set 3: Again, strip plates worth 10 pounds and repeat 10 to 12 reps.
Set 4: Strip away 10 pounds. Do 15 to 20 reps.
Set 5: In this last one, you need to strip 20 pounds and do 15 to 20 reps.
While you are strength training with drop sets, you need to be extremely cautious as it is easy to overstrain. If you are a beginner, then just limit yourself to one set of muscle groups. Drop sets may also shock your muscles, therefore you need to take utmost care and avoid any kind of injury.