Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Drop Sets

Pressed for time or need a change of pace and want a kick-ass workout? Well you may want to try drop or strip sets. So what’s a drop or strip set? Well, it’s quite simple to understand but a real bear to do. You perform an exercise with a weight that will yield you about 8-10 repetitions to muscular fatigue/failure. When you reach failure, you immediately drop or strip approximately 15-20% of the weight and then do as many reps as you can again (you will probably get around 4-6 reps). Now, you have one more drop/strip set so again, reduce the resistance by 15-20% and do as many reps in good form as you can (you will probably get around 4-6 but as always, do as many as you can).

The ideal approach for using drop/strip sets is to pick 3 compound exercises (exercises that use more than one joint and involve more than one muscle group) and a resistance that can be reduced easily and quickly. Selectorized machines (selectorized refers to a machine that has weights already and you change the resistance by using a pin while a plate-loading machine has to have weights added to it manually) or dumbbells tend to work best. In picking your three movements, choose one for the lower body so it stresses the thighs and hips, one movement that works the back and biceps and another that will stress the chest, shoulders and triceps. An example may be a workout that involves a leg press, pulldown and shoulder press. These three movements will hit every major muscle group quite intensely and effectively. If you pick a piece of equipment and requires you to plate-load or you use a barbell, make sure to have a qualified spotter or training partner drop or strip the weights for you after, of course, you’ve set it up for the proper increment drops. A quick example of the plate-loaded leg press using 200 pounds for your initial set: load the leg press so that it totals 200 pounds but allows you to drop/strip the resistance by 35 pound plates (which is about 17%) so you just need to make two easy drops.

In essence, a workout of this magnitude is providing nine highly intense sets in a very short amount of time (probably no more than 10-12 minutes). There is no doubt that you will stimulate plenty of muscle fiber and your cardio respiratory system to its fullest.

Fred Fornicola