I struggle with the speed of everything
In continuation of my series on options to add muscle and strength, I give you Drop Sets. Drop sets is another option to doing the same thing every day. The body adapts to stress and if you don’t change your workout, you will limit your gains in strength and muscle. Remember, no change, no gain.
First thing, drops sets are for intermediate or advanced athletes. If you are a beginner, stick with a typical workout.
Drop sets is a way to totally fatigue your muscles. Let’s use pushups as an example. You start out doing pushups in the traditional way and are able to get about 15 done. Number 13 is tough, 14 even tougher and then 15, everything you have you use to squeeze out number 15. So that’s it, right? You can’t do any more. But, could you do more if you then went on your knees to do your pushups? For sure! You could probably squeeze out about 5 more. Why? Because the load has been lessened by moving to your knees to do the pushups. So what happened? Even though you were exhausted by doing 15 pushups, you still had enough energy and muscle strength to carry out more pushups by lessening the load. In a sense your body recruited more muscle fibres to get the work done.
That was an example of a two set drop set workout. Traditionally drops sets will be about 4 sets. Using a weight to complete about 8 to 12 reps to failure, you then strip off about 20% of the weight and do as many reps you can, then remove about 20% again and complete to failure, etc., until you have completed 4 sets. Here is an example using bench press for the exercise:
Set Weight Reps
1 200lbs 10
2 160lbs 8
3 130lbs 4
4 100lbs 1 – 2
* There is no rest between sets
So why do Drop sets. Basically you are working your muscles to complete exhaustion. We think we have done that when we do as many reps we can with a certain weight. We struggle to get out that last rep so there isn’t really anything left, right? I guess not. What we have done is exhausted the muscle fibres that were recruited to execute the reps we did. By reducing the weight and continuing our reps, the body is recruiting more muscle fibres and same with the next set with lower weight and so on. We are working the muscles to total exhaustion. Basically we are helping our body recruit as many muscle fibres as possible and work the muscles in a way they haven’t been worked when only doing one set then resting.
Give it a shot. Oh yeah, another benefit is the feeling from doing drop sets. You’ll be exhausted but that feeling of blood saturating the muscles is quite satisfying in that you really feel like you have worked the muscles. Enjoy that pumped feeling and if you like, put on a tight fitting shirt and head out. Watch out for narrow doorways though.
Stay tuned for another post on more ways to add strength. And stay tuned for a special article coming up. What will it be about? You’ll have to wait to find out.
Yours in health,