Drop set in bodybuilding - what is it and how to use it

The main goal of bodybuilding is to create a sports physique through the harmonious development of muscles. For those who are engaged in muscle building and are constantly looking for effective exercises, we recommend that you pay attention to the "drop set" ("drop series") technique. Such a scheme does not offer bodybuilders new non-standard elements, but it allows to qualitatively improve hypertrophy of muscle fibers.

Drop set in bodybuilding - what is it and how to use it

What are drop-sets

Everyone knows the standard training method, when the athlete does a certain number of repetitions, gradually increases the weight of the projectile and rests between each approach. This method of performing exercises over time loses effectiveness as a result of adaptation of the muscles to the same loads.

To "shock" the muscles and give an impetus to growth, just drop series are used.

The technique is the implementation of each set in an exercise until muscle failure occurs. A recovery pause is excluded between approaches, and the weight of the projectile is gradually reduced (by 20-25%). As a result, an unusual load is created for the muscles, and muscle fibers are involved, previously not participating in the exercise.

Perhaps the definition will seem confusing and complicated.

To improve understanding, we give an example of a classic drop set.

Take the exercise "bench press lying". Suppose you are doing a bench press with 80 kg for 12 repetitions, after which you have a failure. At this point, put the bar on the stops, but do not remove your hands. Let the partners quickly throw off 10 kg on each side.

After that, make an approach to failure with a 60 kg bar. The main thing is that between sets the pause should be minimal.

The value of the methodology

The drop set in bodybuilding is used to increase muscle volume. The effectiveness of such a training scheme for muscle growth is due to the following useful properties:

  • Multiple microdamage to muscle fibers as a result of exposure to stress loads.
  • Increased blood flow, contributing to the rapid entry of nutrients into the fibers.

  • Powerful pumping effect ("pumping"), which helps to qualitatively improve the relief of muscles.
  • Stimulation of the production of anabolic hormones as a result of prolonged force on the muscles.

Drop sets in strength training help to overcome the "point of failure" - a condition in which the athlete can not do more than one full repetition. As a result, ligaments and tendons are strengthened, and neuromuscular communication improves. Together, this makes the bodybuilder stronger and more enduring.


We offer working types of drop-series:

  • Strip sets . The technique is similar to drop sets and is designed for muscle growth. Strip sets are exercises that are performed on 3-4 approaches before each failure occurs. Weight reduction step - 15-25%. There are no pauses.

    Used shells: barbells, dumbbells, weights, block exercise machines. Example: draft of dumbbells in an inclination to a belt - 4 approaches (18 kg, 15 kg, 12 kg, 9 kg).

  • Dense drop sets . The implementation scheme involves a smaller step in weight loss in approaches - 5-15%. This allows you to increase the intensity of the training, but at the same time increases the risk of overtraining.

    Dense drop-series, as a rule, are used to study small muscle groups. Example: lifting the EZ-neck for biceps - 4 sets (20 kg, 18, kg, 16 kg, 14 kg).

  • Large drop series . The technique is based on an increased step of reducing weight loads - 30-40%. Large drop sets are used in weight training.

    The advantage is the study of large muscle groups, minus the load on the heart. Most often, this technique is used in the basic elements. Example: squats with a barbell - 3 sets (100 kg, 70 kg, 40 kg).

  • Method 6-20 or 50% drop series . The scheme involves performing only two repetitions, the difference in weight between which is equal to 50%.

    The method combines a low-repetitive power approach with a multi-repetitive pumping set. As a result, the muscles get a “shocking” load, which helps them grow. Example of a 50% drop series: T-bar thrust - 6 reps (60 kg) + 20 reps (30 kg).

  • Power drop sets . The technique is based on working with large weights for a given small number of repetitions.

    The step of reducing the weight load does not exceed 10-15%. The method is designed to develop the athlete's power abilities. The downside is a large load on the heart. Example: deadlift - 4 sets of 6 reps each (100 kg, 90 kg, 80 kg, 70 kg).

  • Drop-series with a change in the position of the legs or grip .

    Used to work out large muscle groups. The step of reducing weight loads is small - 10-15%. The method allows you to change the load on the muscles, due to the application of different force vectors. Example: pulling the bar toward you on the lower block while sitting - 3 sets (wide direct grip -35 kg, narrow reverse - 31 kg, parallel narrow - 26 kg).

  • Triple and quarter drop sets .

    An extended version of the classic drop series. Triple involves three approaches to failure with a 25% reduction in weight for 2 and 3 sets, a quarter - the same thing, but for 4 approaches. They are used to increase muscle mass by creating a “shocking” load. Example of a triple drop series: thrust on the upper block behind the head - 3 sets (45 kg, 34 kg, 25 kg).

  • Progressive drop set .

    Combines several types and is suitable only for professionals. Let us explain with the example of a bench press lying. We do the warm-up approach. Then we select such a weight so that a failure occurs at 12 repetitions and we make a classic drop series. We rest for 2-3 minutes.

    We set the “failed” weight for 8 repetitions and make a triple drop set. Rest again for 2-3 minutes. We put the “failed” weight for 6 repetitions and make a quarter drop series.

  • Reverse drop set . It does not imply weight loss, but its increase with each approach.

    The technique is designed to study small muscle groups that respond poorly to stress. Example: toe lifts in the calf simulator - 1 approach (20 repetitions), 2 approach (increase the weight of the projectile and do 12 repetitions), 3 approach (again increase the weight and do 8 repetitions).

  • Drop Superset . The most powerful training option that literally “explodes” your muscles. For example, take two exercises on muscle antagonists: bending the arms with dumbbells and the French bench press.

    We do 12 bends and 12 presses at once. We rest for 10 seconds, reduce weight by 20% in both exercises and again do 12 repetitions. We carry out 4 such super series with reduced weight loads.

The difference between drop sets and negative repetitions

Drop series and negative repetitions are techniques that have a common purpose - “shocking” muscle fibers, but different ways of doing it.

Drop sets are based on positive loads.

That is, a force effect on the muscles is created when the projectile rises (positive phase of the exercise). The result is the appearance of micro-fractures in the fibers and the production of anabolic hormones. This contributes to the gradual increase in muscle mass, as well as the development of the athlete's strength abilities.

Negative repetitions suggest controlled weight loss. That is, first you load the projectile as much as possible, then with the help of a partner, lift it to the top point of the amplitude, and then - very slowly lower it to its original position.

The essence of the technique: intense muscle tension during slow lowering of the projectile creates an extremely unusual load for them. Because of this, muscle fibers receive multiple microtraumas. In addition, the production of growth hormones is enhanced. As a result, the muscles receive a powerful impulse to increase.

Both techniques create stressful loads on the muscles.

But do not forget that the joints, ligaments, tendons, heart, nervous system get excessive tension. Too frequent use of drop-series or negative repetitions can lead to the development of overtraining . The latter threatens to halt progress, reduce strength indicators, worsen mood, the disappearance of motivation for training, the general lethargy of the body.

The recommended frequency of the use of drop-series and negative repetitions is 1 time in 2-3 weeks.

Rules for the implementation of drop sets

Intensive implementation of power approaches without pauses can cause injury.

To prevent this, follow the recommendations:

  • Prepare weights in advance so as not to run around the hall in search of the necessary weights. The haste in working with iron often leads to the loss of shells from the hands.
  • Pause. Even if you are an experienced trained athlete, for the first time using the drop series, add 10-15 second breaks between sets.
  • Choose the right weight for the projectile.

    The load in the first approach of the drop set should be such that you have muscle failure at the twelfth repetition.

  • Use the help of partners. The same bench press bench is more convenient to perform when colleagues lose weight between sets. This minimizes pauses and reduces the risk of injury.
  • Do not use drop sets more often than 1 time in 2 weeks.

    Regular use of this exercise routine can lead to overtraining.

  • Be sure to warm up before each lesson. Drop-series is a power type of load, so unprepared, unheated muscles are easily injured.
  • Do not use more than 2 drop series per muscle group. Excessive overstrain of muscle fibers can cause the opposite effect - they will begin to break down.

  • Do not use drop sets if you are a beginner athlete. Such techniques are contraindicated for beginners, as they create a large burden on the heart and central nervous system.

Popular drop-sets

We offer examples of exercises that are often performed according to the "drop-set" methodology (weights are indicative, for a general understanding of how the weight load is reduced in the approaches).

For training deltas:

  1. Arnold's bench press (22 kg, 18 kg, 14 kg, 10 kg).
  2. Rest 1-2 minutes.

  3. Reverse leads in the slope (14 kg, 10 kg, 6 kg, 6 kg).

For working out biceps:

  1. Standing EZ-bar lifting (20 kg, 16 kg, 12 kg).
  2. Rest 1-2 minutes.
  3. Lifting dumbbells with supination (16 kg, 14 kg, 10 kg, 8 kg).

For the development of triceps:

  1. Bench press with a narrow grip (45 kg, 35 kg, 25 kg).

  2. Rest 1-2 minutes.
  3. French bench press (25 kg, 20 kg, 16 kg, 12 kg).

For chest training:

  1. Bench press (100 kg, 80 kg, 60 kg).
  2. Rest 1-2 minutes.
  3. Breeding dumbbells on an inclined bench (18 kg, 16 kg, 14 kg, 12 kg).

For working out the back:

  1. T-bar thrust (60 kg, 45 kg, 30 kg).
  2. Rest 1-2 minutes.
  3. Shrugs with dumbbells (20 kg, 18 kg, 16 kg, 14 kg).

For leg training:

  1. Squats in the Smith machine (90 kg, 70 kg, 50 kg).
  2. Rest 1-2 minutes.

  3. Lunges with weights (18 kg, 16 kg, 14 kg, 12 kg).

Use of drop-sets in training programs

Bodybuilders use drop-sets in two ways:

  1. In the middle of training. The goal is to create a stress load that promotes muscle growth. Even experienced athletes do not do more than two drop sets in one session. Otherwise, the risk of injury and overtraining may increase.

  2. At the end of the workout. The goal is powerful pumping. It is believed that exercises for "pumping", performed after the main load, help muscles grow. This is explained by the increase in microcracks obtained in the lesson, as a result of pumping a large amount of blood into the muscles.

In any case, drop-series are used exclusively in the training programs of experienced athletes.

For beginners, it is necessary to first strengthen the ligaments, tendons, as well as improve neuromuscular communication.Only after this can you begin to complicated training methods.

Use of drop-sets in losing weight and increasing strength

When performing drop-series, the athlete spends a large amount of energy to ensure long-term performance the muscles. As a result, calorie consumption is multiplied. This really contributes to weight loss, provided that such energy costs occur regularly.

But we have already said that the frequent use of drop sets is dangerous for physical health. Therefore, the technique is not suitable as the basis for training programs aimed at losing weight.

But in powerlifting, drop-series are quite actively used. For example, in between competition cycles. This allows you to maintain the strength characteristics of the athlete and recover from injuries.

The weight is selected so that the failure point falls on a 5-6 repetition in the set. But, again, such loads are applied only by trained powerlifters under the supervision of experienced trainers and only a few times a month.



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