After training consistently for a while, you may start to notice a plateau in your muscle growth and strength. If you find yourself in this situation, you may be able to benefit from drop sets. This advanced exercise technique is helpful in allowing you to build muscle and strength in a short period of time. But, before you launch into this exercise method, be sure that you fully understand how to safely perform it. If you do these exercises improperly, you risk overtraining as well as overuse injury.
Drop Set Training and Henry Atkins
The drop set training method was first discovered in 1947 by Henry Atkins, the editor of Body Culture Magazine. Atkins called his new method the “multi-poundage system.” These exercises are also known as break downs, strip sets and descending sets. The exercise is performed using a single weight to muscle fatigue before removing up to 30 percent of the weight and doing the same reps again. Compared to the regular straight sets which only work the first muscle layers, this form of exercise brings the deepest muscle fibers into play for maximum growth. Although the drop set method is extremely beneficial in causing hypertrophy (muscle size), it is not designed to increase strength or power.
Blood flow restriction training with the drop set technique is effective in bodybuilding because of its unique ability to recruit the muscle fibers hardest to engage with a light amount of weight. These deep muscle fibers are only engaged when the first muscle layers reach fatigue, and occlusion training allows you to fatigue the type I slow twitch fibers quickly to recruit the type II fast twitch fibers sooner.
Drop Set Training and Bodybuilding
If you want to increase endurance using drop sets, you can decrease the weight to 50 percent of your maximum and perform 6 to 20 reps at a time. This method of drop set training is known as wide drop sets.
Training with the drop set method can lead to overtraining if you are not careful in how often you perform these exercises. You should only perform these exercises with a single exercise per body part – don’t overdo it. As an example, do a drop set routine for leg curls and continue with straight sets for the rest of your exercise regimen.
The speed at which a drop set is performed can have an impact on the amount of muscle growth you are able to attain. If you perform multiple repetitions to failure with minimal control, you will see less gain than if you focus on the lowering portion of the exercise. The strength needed to lower a weight is greater than that required to lift the weight. As a result, placing special emphasis on controlled lowering of your weights can have a far-reaching impact on the effectiveness of your workout.
When using the drop set method for blood flow restriction training, only use it for short periods. The drop set method and other forms of high-intensity training are very effective at increasing muscle growth in a minimal period of time. However, these exercise techniques can lead to overtraining more quickly than less intense workouts. To avoid excessive muscle pain and fatigue, spread your workouts over the course of the week and do not train using the same muscle group for more than two days in a row. Because training to failure is the goal, you might want to consider using a spotter to prevent injury.