SHOCKING THE MUSCLE
Drop It !
No, don't drop the weight! That's the ticket to a shortened gym membership. The technique I'm referring to is the Drop Set method. I drop the weight on each successive set. For example, let's say I'm working biceps. I load the barbell to 100 pounds. (Man, am I strong?) Do the first set for 8 reps. Set the bar down and take off 10-15 pounds. At a commercial gym I can move down the barbell rack. (Running the rack, breakdowns, or descending sets). I perform another 8 reps and repeat the process until I can't go anymore. This is an exhausting and advanced technique because it is designed to totally fatigue the muscle in a relatively short amount of time. It's shock to the muscle and shouldn't be used all the time. I usually save this technique for when I've reached a plateau. I use it with compound exercises like presses and curls. It can be performed on weight machines but the "old timers" use "free weights".
I like doing drop sets after I've used Progressive Sets on a particular exercise. If I'm working chest my program would look something like this: (Add weight on each set.)
#1 Set Bench Press 1 x 12 repetitions
#2 Set Bench Press 1 x 10 repetitions
#3 Set Bench Press 1 x 8 repetitions
#4 Set Bench Press 1 x 6 repetitions
Followed by Drop Sets:
#5 Set D. Incline Press 1 x 8 repetitions (Drop 10 lb. next set)
#6 Set D. Incline Press 1 x 8 repetitions (Drop another 10 lbs.)
#7 Set D. Incline Press 1 x 8 repetitions (Repeat until failure to get reps)
Recent research (European Journal Applied Physiology 2008) has shown that a bodybuilder's muscle is primarily an abundance of fast-twitch fibers with capacity for power and endurance. The above program trains both components: progressive sets for power and drop sets for endurance.