How and Why to do a Drop Set
Imagine this situation: you have been in the gym for years now, you have a go-to bicep workout, and you look great. Despite your progress, you’re becoming more and more frustrated because you feel stuck between weights for your bicep curls. The dumbbell set you reach for is too light, but when you try to bump up to the next set, you can’t even finish half of your reps.
Perhaps you might not even have to imagine this scenario because you have experienced it first-hand. However, having years of experience doesn’t make it any less frustrating, and you’ve come to the gym for results. So, what can you do? Drop sets.
What is a Drop Set?
There’s much more to gaining muscle and strength than protein supplements and lifting weight. Gaining muscle mass and strength is mostly a result of increased time under tension for your muscles.
A drop set is a weightlifting technique designed to push muscle stimulation to the brink of failure to break plateaus, grow muscles, and build strength. Many seasoned lifters enjoy sprinkling drops sets throughout their bicep workouts and in other key exercise areas for an added challenge in addition to breaking plateaus.
Drop sets are performed by beginning with your most challenging weight and performing your typical sets and reps. With little to no rest, drop your weights, pick up a lighter weight, and perform as many reps as possible.
A Drop Set Word of Caution
Whether you’re performing a drop set during your bicep workout or leg workout, the purpose is to push your muscles to the brink of failure. Pushing your muscles that hard brings on muscle fatigue, and with fatigue comes increased difficulty in maintaining proper form. When your body is exhausted your form suffers, leading to an increased risk of injury.
For your safety, you should begin with one drop set performed at the end of your exercise and drop the weights significantly until you get a feel for how much you can lift for your dropped set.
A Practical Bicep Workout Drop Set
Wondering how to add a drop set to your routine? Let’s assume you typically use twenty-pound dumbbells for your bicep workouts, and you usually perform three sets of ten reps.
To perform your bicep workout drop set, you would:
- Perform your first set of ten bicep curls. Rest 30-60 seconds.
- Perform your second set of ten bicep curls. Rest 30-60 seconds.
- Perform your third set of ten bicep curls, drop your weights, immediately pick up a lesser weight, and perform as many reps as possible. Aim for at least 3-8 repetitions on your drop set.
As you practice drop sets and perform them more frequently, you can incorporate them at the end of each set. Just be sure to listen to your body and maintain proper form. Finish your workouts in your usual manner, and be sure to include a protein supplement in your post-workout recovery drink.
Why do I Need a Protein Supplement after Performing Drop Sets?
You should include a protein supplement in your diet unless you are regularly hitting your protein goals through food consumption alone. However, even if you regularly hit your protein goals, you might benefit from a protein supplement immediately following your drop set workout to aid muscle recovery.
A quickly digesting protein supplement immediately following your workout in the period known as the “anabolic window” can:
- Grow muscles faster as it switches them out of the catabolic mod
- Speed up muscle recovery
- Help you hit your protein goals every day
There are many ways to break through plateaus and achieve your goals in the gym. Sometimes all it takes is performing a tried and true exercise in a new way. A quality protein supplement won’t hurt your progress either!