Drop Set Workouts

Work for the Weekend: Upper Body Drop Sets

One of my favorite workout formats, drop sets, are an efficient way to build lean muscle mass. Maybe you’ve heard a trainer talk about drop sets, maybe you’ve read about them in training articles or magazines, but if you haven’t incorporated them into your routine it’s about time you started!

Drop Set Workouts

What is a Drop Set?

Drop sets allow you to go deeper and harder into a given muscle group and provide a high intensity workout which burns fat longer than a drawn-out workout. As opposed to your standard 10-15 rep scheme drop sets decrease the weight incrementally in a series of “drops” as you fail with your current weight. You’ll extend your workout by two or three set, but will work your muscle group to failure within each weight set.

Why are they Beneficial?

  1. Higher rep ranges promote muscle growth
  2. The short break to accommodate the weight drop enables energy systems to somewhat refresh so you can come in hard to start the next set, even though the break is only a few seconds
  3. Drop sets improve muscle endurance which leads to faster results

How do you do Them?

Plan for two to three drops within one single set. The goal is to get to the end of your set and feel complete muscle exhaustion, so that 5-pound dumbbell should feel like a cement block. This fatigue means you’re breaking your muscles down to gain strength, shape and size when they rebuild. You should start off the bat with weights that are challenging for you. Fatigue should come within the 15 rep range.

Once your form starts to slip and you start to hit a wall with a given weight, drop down a set and start over. Continue to do this for the two or three reps you select. Drops should be within 20-30% of each other and are best done with single joint drills such as a bicep curl or lateral raise as opposed to a squat to overhead press.

Putting it Together: Upper Body Drop Set Workout

Ready to work out? Yea, you are. Do this Drop set workout with a set of dumbbells or a barbell and enjoy the feel of that burn. You’ll feel it in real time and you’ll feel it the next day. That challenge is your change, and that change means it’s working. Don’t give up!

Overhead Press
Bent-Over Row
Upright Row 

Pick three sets of weights that will drive you to fatigue. You should only be able to rep out 12-15 reps max within each drop.

Example Workout

Overhead Press:

  1. 20lb dumbbells
  2. 15lb dumbbells
  3. 10lb dumbbells

Bentover Row:

  1. 20lb dumbbells
  2. 17.5 dumbbells
  3. 10lb dumbbells

Upright Row:

  1. 40 lb dumbbells
  2. 30 lb dumbbells
  3. 20 lb dumbbells

Do the three sets of the three drills (9 sets of each drill total), and if you did this right – all the way to fatigue – you’ll be toast. If you under shot your drops and lifts, go for it again (or two more times) and this time push your limits.


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