Drop sets are another age-old Weider training principle that is still used by today’s bodybuilders. A single drop set involves reaching failure on any given set and then, without any rest, continuing by decreasing the weight and continuing with a consecutive set. The weight then can be decreased repeatedly to perform multiple drop sets.
Drop sets are a high intensity technique and are an easy way to add volume to a workout. With any given set, once failure is reached you’re taking the muscles beyond failure, with a lighter weight. The end result is that the time under tension is increased and the muscles are pumped full of blood beyond what can be obtained through a traditional set.
Being that drop sets are a high intensity technique, they should be used when traditional methods of training have lead to a plateau and to shock the muscles into new growth.
When drop sets are applied to heavy compound exercises like the bench press and squat, new growth has to occur provided adequate rest. In fact you can expect severe muscle soreness and will need to rest before working that same muscle group again.
Drop sets used for smaller isolation exercises, such as side lateral raises and barbell curl, can be performed more frequently and are less likely to burn out your nervous system.
If you are new to this technique try only using a two or three drop sets for compound exercises at first to test how your body responds to this type of training. I myself have done as many as 10 drop set in the squat and within a few days my legs are so sore I can barely move the rest of the week making it difficult to complete my other workouts.
In contrast, I can literally run the rack with side lateral raises performing over a 100 reps and don’t experience any muscles soreness even though my delts and traps are screaming from a lactic acid burn at the end of each drop set.
Everyone’s body is different and like all Weider principles experimentation is the key to success. If you have reached a plateau in your training or have a lagging body part you want to bring up, give this high intensity technique a try.