How To Do Drop Sets For Massive Muscle Growth

heavy smith machine bent over rows

Today, I'd like to pass on a technique that is, in my opinion, one of the most intense principles you can do when it comes to weight training.

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The technique I'm referring to is called “drop sets”. Drop sets are not easy but if you can handle the intensity and pain, they can pay off in a big way.

What are drop sets? Drop sets is a technique where you drop the weight each time you do an extra set.

For example, let's say I'm doing the seated barbell shoulder press with 185 pounds on the bar. I'd first do a set of 8 repetitions and rack the weight. I'd take 25 pounds off the bar and immediately do another 8 repetitions.

I'd rack the weight and take off another 30 pounds and immediately do another 8 repetitions. Once this set was completed. I'd rack the weight and take off another 30 pounds and immediately do another 8 repetitions. Once completed, I'd rack the weight and take off another 30 pounds and go until I can't go anymore.

The beauty of drop sets is that it adds a whole new dimension to your weight training program. It combines small rest times, volume, with the rest/pause technique and keeps the muscle working until it is totally exhausted. It's because of this intensity that I don't recommend this technique to beginners. This is an advanced technique that is designed to totally exhaust your muscles.

It's also because of this that you can only do one or two sets of this kind of training. You can do drop sets for just about any exercise you do but I recommend you do it for compound exercise such as the bench press. Since compound exercises involve a series of muscle groups, you can possible handle more weight and repetitions - It works best for compound movements.

Personally, I always do my drop sets after my main work sets. For example, let's say I'm doing the bench press. My progression will look like the following:

Progression Sets

  • Set 1: Warm up - 1 x 20 repetitions;
  • Set 2: Warm up - 1 x 8 repetitions;
  • Set 3: Warm up - 1 x 8 repetitions;
  • Set 4: Work set - 1 x 6 repetitions;
  • Set 5 Word set - 1 x 6 repetitions

Drop Sets

  • Set 1: Take off 20 pounds and do a set of 6;
  • Take off another 30 pounds and do another set of 6;
  • Take off another 30 pounds and do another set of 6;
  • Take off another 30 pounds and do another set of 6

All in all, I've totally exhausted my chest. Remember, there is no resting. Once the weight has been taken off, you have to hit the set again. The point is to cut down on the rest, but giving the muscle just enough time to recover in order to do another set.

Since this is a very tough technique, I'll do it for maybe 4 or 5 sessions. The point of this technique is to give your muscles an extra boost. This works well if your at a sticking point or plateau in a certain exercise.

It's very important to point out that in order to do this exercise, you need a spotter. It's ideal to have a couple of trainer's to help you take off the weight but of course, they're not always around so you have to be quick and take them off yourself.

The following video is an example of the drop set. I chose this video because Bertil Fox is the epitome of intensity. Bertil uses very heavy weight for this drop set and uses low repetitions but the same principle applies for the drop set. Check it out:

If you can master this type of technique, I have no doubt you’ll make some very impressive gains in terms of strength and muscle size. However, don’t go overboard with this technique because you can overtrain very quickly with it.

Also, give you muscles plenty of time to recover after a workout because they’re going to need it.

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All the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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