T Nation

Dropsets for Assistance


Has anyone done this long term?

For instance last squat session I worked up to 375x3, then went:


without too much rest in between sets

I'm thinking that this could increase recovery and hypertrophy as well as give a person A LOT of form practice which would be the advantage over say doing a few sets of good mornings and leg presses, not to mention that it would tax the EXACT muscles used in the lift that you're trying to improve.

To me the only downside I see is that it's fucking hard especially with squats and deads (although after your heavy set if you reduce the weight enough it should feel fairly light with some lactic acid buildup and conditioning limits to fight against at the end), and I'm guessing that you could overtrain very easily if your recovery isn't in check. Also if your form is off it would end up causing/increasing imbalances.

Thoughts? Over simplistic? 'CNS' disaster?


Triple dropsets seem like a bad idea with deadlifts.

And dropsets aren't exactly going to lead to very good form.


I like the idea of getting some more volume of the main lift after your top set, but I'm not a big fan of the drop sets. Given your example above you might consider 275x5-8 for a couple sets or if you wanted more total volume do 225x10 for 3 sets. You could even do one big set with 225 going to 1-2 reps shy of failure. It would depend on if your goals are more strength, size, or muscle endurance.


do soem high reps instead...
or maeby do some max reps sets like in th ebench how any you can do with
after the worl sets..


These aren't to failure, so form shouldn't be an issue

I actually did them with deads the other day and they were fine although I dropped the weight and did less reps than other exercises

worked up to 405x2 then

225x5 2 sets then did some RDL's


These are both very similar ideas and I do like them, although there's something about the feel of lowering the weight each successive set with little rest that feels different than 3x10 or a max reps set.

In the bodybuilding section MODOK outlines this approach and similar approaches for bodybuilding though with more exercises and volume, but I'm wondering if the PLer's think it would have any application as assistance for the powerlifts. Since assistance is about working the muscles involved in the lift you're trying to bring up why not just do the competition lift for reps after your heavy set/sets?


I don't think there's anything wrong with it, it's just not my first preference. I think that provided you're not going to failure and maintaining good technique, it could work well. I agree with your idea that assistance work doesn't always have to be some exotic exercise. Whether you think it's good assistance work depends on whether you come from the "weak points" school of thought or the "work the main lifts" school of thought. For me, trying to target every weak point hasn't had the carryover to main lifts I would have liked, so I tend to like ideas like yours where you keep things simple and focus on the main lifts with a select number of other assistance exercises.


I think drop-sets are a good option to add more volume and get some hypertrophy work but I wouldn't over-do them, just like I wouldn't over-do high rep straight sets, rest-pause, or any other similar technique. Change it up regularly to get the benefits out of all the other options too.

And as far as replacing assistance work with more of the main lift, I think that is a bad idea. Assistance work is important and effective because it addresses specific needs. Break down the motor patterns and see where you need work versus just doing more work. There is a lot more to PLing than the big 3 if you want to be successful. That is why you can't just do a meet every weekend and expect to keep getting better indefinitely.

Summary: extra volume on main lifts is good as long as it doesn't push out the other important factors of training.


I guess I haven't really found a set of assistance exercises that really click with me so this just seems like a better plan for success for me at the moment. I'm also gaining weight so the extra volume is helping me progress at the moment, I don't think this would be too effective if you were losing weight or maintaining.