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     Fitness Tips For 9/13/2006 

What Are Drop Sets In Weight Lifting?
By Dave Kergaard

One of the most important aspects of successful training is knowing
how and when to change your training routines.  While I am in the 
gym on a daily basis I cannot help but notice some of the same 
people continuing to do some of the same routines for month after 
month, even year after year. The body adapts very quickly to 
adversity, so in order to make gains a person working out has to 
continually make changes in their exercise regiment.  You have to 
do this both in your cardio workout as well as your workout. The 
important message is that you have to keep your body guessing.

I personally try to change my routine every four to six weeks. 
Sometimes that change can be a dramatic change or something as 
subtle as doing the same exercises but changing the rep scheme from 
10 to 12 to 15 reps. Currently, I have been training some of my 
clients and also myself doing what most people would call drop 
sets.  Of all the routines that I have attempted, drop sets seems 
to be one of the hardest of the exercise programs.  The drop sets, 
when done correctly can actually challenge your body more than most 

To give you an example, I will try to explain what I am currently 
doing in the gym and how I have been incorporating the drop sets 
into my program. On Tuesday I train chest and biceps. I begin the 
chest workout with the Cybex incline machine and load the machine 
to what I could normally do three sets of ten repetitions. The key to 
loading any exercise piece of equipment is to put plates on the machine
or bar so you can drop plates off quickly.  For example, if I normally
use two 45ís on each side of the Cybex incline machine I would instead 
put one 45, one 25, and two 10ís on each side.

After completing ten reps my work out partner will quickly strip a ten
off each side enabling me to do another set of ten. Then after that set 
my work out partner strips another ten off and I quickly do another set
of ten.  In other words the set actually becomes three sets.

My work out partner and I move to cable flyes for the chest.  We 
usually do three sets of ten, we drop the pin on each stack 10 pounds 
for the drop set. After the cable flyes we move to the Cybex chest 
machine and do the very same thing. 

After chest, we move to biceps because our triceps have already 
received a strenuous workout assisting the chest and shoulder muscles.  
The biceps are fresh so its time to hit them. We usually start on 
the Cybex curling machine, which is a pin loaded machine. I normally 
put 110 pounds on the Cybex machine. During the second and third set 
of the drop sets my partner will lower the pin as I continue to do 
10 reps for each of those sets.  We will then move to barbell curls 
and follow the same sequence.  Usually we try to finish the biceps 
by running down the rack with hammer curls using the dumbbells.

You can follow the same type of program for all body parts not only 
chest and biceps, but also back, triceps, shoulders, and legs. The 
key to success in doing drop sets is having either a workout partner 
or trainer that can quickly remove the plates from the machine or 
bar keeping the time between sets as short as possible. You can do
this yourself, but it is not as effective as having someone work 
with you. The machines that contain stacks can be changed by just 
pulling and replacing the pin. Changing the pin may easily be 
done by one individual. 

As you look at your current training routine, I would strongly 
suggest giving drop sets a try. There has been a lot of recent 
research showing that drop sets can increase an individualís 
production of growth hormone during the workout. Done properly 
the drop set routine can be challenging both anaerobically and 
aerobically. In other words, not only will your muscles be pumped
to their max, but also your lungs will be gasping for air.

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