Drop sets are a great tool to incorporate into your strength training routine. For one it is a great way to change up an existing exercise routine that has hit a plateau. But mainly it is a great way to work on muscle endurance and strength. Starting with heavier weight with less reps and going to lighter weight to more reps all in one set is the basics of a drop set. This also gives you a good cardiovascular workout throughout all the reps because it gets your heart rate up. So you are basically getting an interval cardiovascular workout while strength training. I have researched this by wearing my heart rate monitor while I strength train. By doing the heavier weight, you can reach your anaerobic threshold (point in which your body stops burning fat and burns glucose) then it drops back down during rest and goes back up during the exercise again. This creates an interval cardiovascular workout.
The way to ensure you get the best benefits from using drop sets in your workout you should have a partner to switch out the weights for you as quickly as possible so that you don’t have time to rest in between the reps. You should not rest until the set is completely over.
Example of a drop set:
- Bent Over Rows on Smith Machine
- 25lb plate, 10lb plate and 5lb plate on each side (5lb plate on inside)
- 8 reps with all weight on both sides; no rest
- take off the 25lb plates on both sides
- 10 reps with 10lb and 5lb plate; no rest
- take off the 10lb plate on both sides
- 15 reps or to failure; end of set, rest, then repeat
You can do this with all your exercises that you pick for that day. I would recommend to do at least 4 or more exercises. The science behind this process is this: you are building muscle by breaking down the muscle with the weight around 80% of max, you are improving muscle endurance by the amount of reps you are doing (during the example set you are doing 33 reps in one set), also you are improving strength by the first series of reps with the heavier than 80% of max weight. Make sure you rest 1-2 minutes between sets to ensure maximum strength gains. Also you are burning fat by cycling throughout your fat burn zones (heart rate) during the workout.
I would not do drop sets every single day for weeks at a time. I would recommend one week out of the month do drop sets for every body part then go back to regular sets the following 3 weeks and then you can go back to the drop sets again. The purpose is you want to break down your muscles and then let them repair/rebuild this is how you gain muscle. But if you break down your muscles with these intense exercises and never lay off you are not giving your muscles time to repair/rebuild. Hence you are losing muscle gains.