Drop setting is an advanced training technique that extends sets by decreasing the weight. According to health and fitness expert Ilija Jahura, they’re more efficient than standard sets for gaining size because athletes don’t have to spend as much time in the gym to get the same results.
With that in mind, Jahura explains how drop sets can help you get the results you want at a faster pace.
Smarter Drop Sets for Strength and Size
With traditional drop sets, the athlete takes an exercise to failure, then decreases the weight by anywhere from 15 to 50 percent and continues repping until they once again reach failure.
When you’re first getting used to drop sets, aim to complete two or three total sets with two to three minutes of rest in between. The eight-to-12-rep range is ideal for hypertrophy, but you can also experiment with programming drop sets for strength gains by sticking to the three-to-eight-rep range.
Make sure you select a weight that allows you to hit the minimum number of reps for the range you’ve chosen during the “drop” portion of the set. For example, after gassing out on a set of 12, you would lighten the load enough to finish with a minimum of eight reps before you reach failure a second time.
6 Exercises for Maximally Effective Drop Sets
At Jahura’s recommendation, here are six exercises perfectly suited for the unparalleled burn and compounded fatigue that are the trademarks of a good drop set.
1. Single Arm Cable Bicep Curls
The face-away cable curl maximizes bicep development, as the cable stays perpendicular to the forearm. This is true in both the shortened-to-mid-range strength zone and the lengthened-to-mid-range strength zone.
2. Lateral Raise
Performed correctly, the lateral raise is a tried-and-true grower for the medial delts.
This exercise can be done with either dumbbells or a cable stack. To set up the cable lateral raise, situate the cable at about knee level to allow for a more complete range of motion.
3. Rope Tricep Extensions
Pulling the handles of the rope apart at the bottom of each extension forces you to contract your triceps much harder, and that tension translates directly to gains.
4. Two-Point Cable Pec Fly
Another bodybuilding favorite, the use of twin parallel cables means total adjustability, constant tension, and the potential for a chest pump that’s second to none.
5. Straight-Arm Pulldowns
Set up a cable with a straight bar attached at face level, grab hold, and down and back toward your thighs. Keep your arms straight and your torso upright to take the chest and triceps out of the movement.
6. Two-Point Cable Rear-Delt Fly
The same principles that make the cable stack perfect for building the arms, pecs, and lats also make it a killer gainer for the rear delts, which can be awkward to train with dumbbells and hard to target with fixed-trajectory machines.
Learning from Ilija Jahura
Ilija Jahura is a fitness expert from Kelowna, BC. His life’s work is to help his clients achieve their goals so they can live their dreams and become the best versions of themselves. He does this by teaching them to navigate the junction between health, fitness, and personal development, and he enjoys continually exploring these realms himself.