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How Do You Progress When Implementing Things Like Drop Sets?

I’ve been wondering about something recently, and would appreciate some input to help me make sense of it.

When using ‘advanced’ techniques such as dropsets, active rest (i.e.repping out with lighter weight during rest between sets) etc, this presents a problem when it comes to progression. In order to progress at an optimal rate it seems imperative that you keep things simple and completely rest in between sets, so that you don’t waste energy and become fatigued before your next set. Using methods such as dropsets etc may be useful at certain times, but how is progression tracked when using methods like this?

For example, if I were to do an exercise for 3 sets of 10 or whatever rep range, I would usually make sure that I completed all 3 sets for 10 reps before increasing weight the next time I did the exercise. But when implementing things like dropsets and active rest, fatigue levels rise a hell of a lot higher than totally resting in between sets, therefore reaching 3 sets of 10 would take an eternity to complete, if ever due to the build up of fatigue.

Is there a way around this? Would it just be better to lower the weight on the 3 sets of 10 in order to make sure you’re still able to progress at a reasonable rate, when using things like dropsets? I’m not sure if this would be counterintuitive due to lifting submaximally. I.e. you’re lifting a lot less than you’re able to lift usually due to adding dropsets, etc.

…if I start benching with 225 and dropset to 135, and one week I can do 10x225 and 20x135, and the next week I manage 11x225, then no matter the second set, I have progressed. If I was to only manage 10 again, but I managed 21x135, I would have progressed. I would treat the top weight as your initial progression metric, and if the top weight remains the same then the next dropset becomes the metric. It’s pretty simple.

That being said, I don’t usually focus on progressing during dropset THAT much, I just use them as a way to go past failure, and save the progression worries for my straight sets.


Thank you very much, makes a lot of sense. Appreciate it!

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Just like Flap said, you progress the same as any other lifting. By using more weight and/or doing more reps each week.

I’m confused here. You wouldn’t do 3x10 with drop sets in the first place. Methods like drop sets are intensity boosters. Increasing training intensity (almost always) means you need to reduce overall training volume. So, like, instead of 3x10 straight sets, you might do two easier sets and one “top set” with the drop.

This type of active recovery shouldn’t be causing a ton of actual fatigue when it’s programmed properly (using the right exercises with the right weight for the right reps).

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When i do RP or drops, i just worry with the first set. Like 120x12,6,3…if i do 125x12,5,2 the next workout…thats still a win in my book