T Nation

Drop Sets and Isometrics


I'm wondering is it okay to do drop sets and isometrics both in the same training block or is it too much for the CNS? I train 3 days a week and have an exercise with 3 drop sets and then one isometric exercise (2 positions/3 sets per position) each training day + some less demanding regular exercises after that.I'm planning to do that for 3 weeks, then take a deload week with only low volume/high intensity concentric action and then start a new training block.My goal for this block is mass.


if you truly want my opinion drop sets should be avoided in most cases. They actually don't contribute to more hypertrophy compared to straight-sets and use up too much of a burden on the nervous and metabolic systems.

People think that they work because it hurts and make them feel pumped up (which is only fluid, lactate and hydrogen ions accumulated in the muscle).

Isometrics are probably the most misapplied method of all. And even I am responsible for some of those bad uses from some of my earlier writings on the subject.

Regular isometrics where you almost bust an ee of its socket by pushing or pulling against an immovable resistance actually has little real life benefits and are HELL on the nervous system.

The best way to do isometrics is a method that Tim Patterson and I 'discovered' by accident in one of our conversation and subsequent experimentations in the gym.

We call them blast isometrics.

It is a form of functional isometrics (bar starting on a first set of safety pins and pulled/pushed onto a second set of pins a few inches higher).

You perform a functional isometric put the goal is not to just reach the pins and then push/pull. You actually are trying to DESTROY that second set of pins... try to hit it as hard as possible with the bar. After the contact hold for a micro-second, just to 'show that you are in control' and repeat for the number of reps required.

This will GREATLY activate the CNS' capacity to recruit fast-twitch fibers, first because of the explosive action but also because of the reflexive contraction of the fibers upon hitting the pins.

It also has much less negative neural effects than regular isometrics... it is that grind that actually puts negative stress on the nervous system.

You only need to do one position for functional isometrics and sets of 3 reps are the average.



What type of load do you use with the blast isometrics?


Sounds interesting. Is there an article on this stuff?

Edit: Nvm, I decided to use the little "SEARCH" thing on top of my page. ;]


I 'created' blast isos about a week ago when Tim Patterson and I were discussing the subject of isometrics to build muscle.

So, no, there is no article about it yet.


After seeing your new video of these, all my questions are answered. Thanks, coach!



"if you truly want my opinion drop sets should be avoided in most cases. They actually don't contribute to more hypertrophy compared to straight-sets and use up too much of a burden on the nervous and metabolic systems."

...Then why develop and sell the Mechanical Drop Set program? I used it, worked very well. Though it was definately hard on the CNS.


i suppose thib meant the 'usual' drop sets, where you are lifting your hand(leg) on the end


This is not a 'drop set' per se because the weight is not decreasing. It's more like mechanical advantage technique. It's the 'decreasing the weight' aspect of traditional drop sets that I don't like.


See that's the cool thing with videos... you can teach in a few minutes stuff that simply cant be taught even with the best written article.


CT, it sounds like you no longer a fan of using isometrics. (at least some "versions" of them) In regards to this part of isometrics, which you have stated in previous articles; "isometrics recruit up to 10% more motor units." (I'm paraphrasing as I can't remember exactly what you wrote) Does research still show this to be the case? Or have you since seen studies come out to show this is not true?




Not true. I have several other isometric techniques that I use and that are on the longer side of the spectrum. Cocontraction training is one of them, you'll learn more about this in the near future.


I just had a random thought, would doing heavy bag work (as in boxing training) have a similar affect to blast isometrics?


Indeed they would, albeit in a non-targeted way (not focused on a single muscle group). Good thinking.


Can you post a link for this video


Front page of this site... way to do a search man :slightly_smiling:


Didnt realize it was the experimental arm workout video.. Just thought it was an isometrics trainging vid. in general.


So you do not recommend longer duration (about 20-40 seconds) isometrics for hypertrophy anymore? What about gymnasts, they seem to use isometric training and are quite muscular. Also, what is your current opinion on very slow eccentrics (5-10 seconds), pre-exhaust supersets and explosive exercise/regular exercise for the same muscle group/movement pattern supersets?


For clarification, by longer duration isometrics I meant static holds/yielding isometrics, whichever is the correct term, for holding a weight/body in one position for 20-40 seconds. Also, can this be used as a CNS activation method?


Yes it will work to build hypertrophy, the overcoming isos (pushing or pulling against pins for max time) is much less effective.

NO it absolutely cannot be used as an activation tool. If anything it will decrease performance in subsequent exercises because they cause a ton of fatigue. So they really should be performed at the end of a workout.