Drop Sets as a workout

Question for the forum. Some days when I dont have the energy for a volume workout, I tend to do drop sets for one set all the way down to the bar or a 10 pound weight. For example, pulldowns from 220 all the way down to 10 pounds dropping 10 pounds at a time. I have never done this as a constant routine, just periodically when I don’t have the drive to do a bunch of sets. My question is, would a workout of this design give any gains? I have been considering it, but don’t want to waste my time if it doesn’t work. I don’t think this is HIT because I take the weight all the way down to nothing in 10 pound increments so I am probably getting 30 to 50 reps in one exercise. Anyone try this for 4-6 weeks and gain from it?

come on guys…a little help here!!

Alright, whopper, only cuz you’re cryin’ about it:-) I’m just playin’. I have been thinking of adding some drop sets into my next hypertrophy phase also. However, I’m not sure how effective going to such a low weight is. I’m sure there is some threshold (% of 1RM) that would be considered no longer productive. For example, if you’re using 220 on pulldowns (get your butt over to the chin bar:-), although you didn’t specify reps, 10 pounds is probably only about 5-10% of your 1RM, which I doubt produces any real effect. Maybe some muscular endurance.

I have been intrigued by a type of drop set, so to speak, proposed by Dr. Squat, called Holistic Sets I don’t have a whole lot of info on them, but basically you do two or more exercises with no rest between sets or exercises. You do a set for 5, then a set for 12 (different exercise), then a set for 40 (different exercise/first exercise), then the first exercise for 5, then 12, then 40 until you reach 200 reps or drop dead! His theory is that you’re training specific fibers during each rep range, and while you’re training in one range the fatigued fibers have time to recover. For example, during the set of 5 you fatigue your IIB white fibers, but during the 12s and 40s these fibers recover so you can do the 5s immediately after completing the 40s. This sounds super intense and I think it would be pretty cool to give it a shot.

I think they are great in the hypertrophy phase of a workout plan. Some muscles tend to respond better to this sort of stimulus than others. For example, on Ian King’s program, even in the neural phase of the program, I will add one strip set of biceps curls to prevent detraining of this aspect. It has seemed to have helped my bi’s a lot, which tend to deflate when I go heavy. I do agree with Timbo that it is not necessary to go down that low in weight. I just do three strip sets of 10-12. That is plenty to get my bi’s screaming.

So you’re the motherfuckers hoarding all the 10’s and 5’s!

slightly off topic, but Double sets are working really well for me and my triceps. Like the first 2 sets that Timbo mentioned, I will do 5-8 reps, getting close but not to failure (have been doin decline DBell extensions) and then immediately after a set of about 10 going almost to failure, on another exercise for Tris (been doing JM PRESS). I rest, then repeat for 3 or 4 more times. I am getting mad pumps and DOMS from doin this.

I appreciate it guys. I think unless someone posts reasons I shouldnt try it I am gonna give it a go. The only issue I have seen is when I do it for bench it always seems like the prettiest vixen walks by as I am benching 75 pounds and my arms are shaking. She always seems to be way across the gym when I start at 265…go figure. Actually when I did them on Thursday for bench, two girls walked by and I was dying trying to get about 105 up, and the one said to the other…wow, I would have thought a guy that big could lift more than that! Oh well, who needs ego…lol! As far as doing pullups, I do do them, but prefer pulldowns when I do these drop sets because I can destroy my lats a lot better. Thanks again for the posts guys!

YES Lipo…I am the motherfucker taking all the 10s…lol not the 5’s tho!

I am going to hold my opinion about drop sets, but I ask one question, why 1 day do you simply not have it? The answer may lie in recovery, burnout, near overtraining, etc. I can see no benefit in stripping things down to 10 pounds. I would look up references about active rest.

Actually I haven’t done drop sets in 10 years. Back then I think they used terms like “running-the-racks” which implied that you’d start with say heavy db’s and work your way down. That’s pretty much impossible where I work out 'cause you’d have to ‘find’ all the db’s 1st. Also remember doing this on cable machines where its real easy to change the weight. Are you guys using the protocol where you drop the poundages throughout one big set (no rest)?

Yes, I do it with no rest. So for bench say 265 for 3 then strip down to 245…get right back under…rep it out then 225 get right back under and rep it out…all the way down to empty bar. May be a total of 30 or more reps. After just that one set (after warmups of course) then it is on to back. I get a great pump from it and it hurts like hell. As far as the previous post, sometimes I just don’t have the time for 4 to 8 sets per bodypart…or the energy, but do not want to waste a workout, so I do this. As I posted however, would like to try it for 4 to 6 weeks after I am finished with my current program

Whopper, you should just be careful not to overtrain. Doing drop sets from 265 down to zero is pretty exhaustive and traumatic. I would only do it on a rare occassion. Ordinary rep and set structures would probably take you down to 60-80% of you 1RM - I mean to say that after “going to failure” on an oridnary routine you could only do 60-80% of your normal 1RM for 1 rep without rest from the prior set. But lifting so exhuastively to the point where you can’t push up another pound may be too exhaustive. Just my 2 cents…