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Drop Sets to bust Muscle Building Plateaus

Updated on February 2, 2015

Hitting a Plateau

I've been training now for 3 years. If there is one thing I have learnt, both from research and empirically, is that change is key for adaptation.

What is adaptation?

In your case it is Muscle Strength and/or Hypertrophy. That means GAINS.

Change in your workouts can be implemented with intensity techniques. Today I will talk a little bit about Drop Sets.

A Drop Set is essentially an extended set. There are many variations, but the classic works like this:

You perform the last set of a given exercise to failure (whether it be 2, 6 or even 15 Reps). As soon as you fail, you lower the weight and continue the set until you hit failure once again. That was a Drop Set.

Now, there are many ways to implement these, which depend on your will, training experience, and goals.

Take John Meadows's approach for an instance:

Normal Set
Normal Set | Source
Drop Set
Drop Set | Source

In the article above, by John Meadows (featured on, he explains that Drop Sets are included in his routines in a Wave-like fashion, implementing this technique for 2 weeks, changing the technique for the following 2 weeks, and so on. Also, he is an advocate of utilizing Drop Sets only on the last Set of the last exercise for a given body part, in order to not overload the Central Nervous System.

However, if you take a look at Ben Pakulski's take on the matter, you should use 3 Drop Sets on the end of every last Set of every exercise (this method cannot be performed for an extended period of time. According to his plan, MI40, this should be a cycle of training of no more than 40 days, proceeding to a de-load phase). Ben is an advocate of this method precisely for the taxation in takes on ou Central Nervous System, breaking any plateau your body has, forcing it to adapt, meaning growth.

You can check out his take on this here:


Last but not least, you have Charles Poliquin's (AKA Strength Sensei) take on the matter. He is a huge believer in Drop Sets, and in this blog entry on his own website, he even details a list of weight percentage drops you should use, according to your goals and Rep Ranges.

Below, I demonstrate myself performing a set of Leverage Machine Rows, for Lat development, where I include a Drop Set and some Partial Reps at the end:

Leverage Machine Row Drop Set

A little bit of science...

It all breaks down to this:

  • Your body adapts to a stimulus;
  • You'r stimulation remains the same;
  • You won't grow;
  • Include Drop Sets;
  • Your body is submitted to an unknown stress factor;
  • Translates to new adaptation (growth);

I hope all you readers found this helpful, keep checking back for more.

Sebastian Moody


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