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"Doing more exercise with less intensity,"
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Drop Sets
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ics1974

I was reading about drop sets and found a interesting article explaining why drop sets are so powerful.

To me this explains how one set to failure using drop sets maybe the way to go to insure all muscle fibers are recruited.


How Drop Sets Work: Breaking Down Muscle Fibers... Deep Down!

Let's suppose you're doing bicep curls with 125 pounds for a set of 8-12 reps. The 10th rep is difficult. The 11th rep is extremely hard, even with a little cheating. The 12th rep takes an all out supreme effort. Gun to the head - you still couldn't do a 13th rep. You've hit honest failure. But if you strip some weight off the bar - about fifteen to twenty percent or so, you can keep going.

Even though you may reach a point of momentary muscular failure after 8-12 reps in a conventional straight set, you haven't reached absolute failure; you've only reached failure with that poundage. You see, in a single straight set performed to failure, you don't activate every fiber in a muscle group. You only recruit the number of fibers necessary to lift a particular weight for the desired number of repetitions. By stripping off weight and continuing the set, you cumulatively recruit more and more "reserve" muscle fibers.

Drop sets hit the "stubborn" muscle fibers "deep down," causing growth that normally couldn't be achieved by stopping after a single set of six to twelve.


ICS
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HeavyHitter32

Drop sets are no different than performing a second set of an exercise.
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acerson

Ontario, CAN

I'm not denying the efficiency of drop sets, as I have used them on numerous occasions. However, lifting a very heavy weight in which you hit momentary muscular failure should recruit all the muscle fibers should it not? As the reps become more and more difficult, aren't more fibers are needed to get those extra reps?

I do believe drop sets work very well, but I only use them when I plateau because I don't find them any more effective then training with one set to failure.

Am i wrong in my thinking? I'm not very knowledgeable in this particular area, so I would really like to know.
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ZEZ

Mentzer said that Drop Sets were not an H.I.T. principle,but he was in favor of Rest-Pause.Aren't they the same thing?I never got his logic on this one.
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

I believe that the following would be a more effective means of performing drop sets, because the overall load is increased and the set duration is still kept within the 40 to 80 second (anaerobic) TUL.

Rather than perform a set with your normal weight, then drop down 20%, start with a weight that is heavier than what you would use for a normal set. Heavy enough (the exact % increase will depend on the individual, but lets say 10% as a starting point) that you will fail two or three reps short of your upper rep number/upper TUL goal. Then drop 20% and continue until failure.

This increases the intensity of the set and keeps it within the TUL of a single set, instead of just extending the set.

If I had a training partner to perform drop sets with this is how I would do it.

The same goes for the use of any other set extender. If you plan to use drop sets, forced reps, static hold, negative-only reps after positive failure, or any other technique that normally increases the length of the set, try using a heavier weight to reduce the time to concentric failure so that the performance of the set extending technique still falls within your normal TUL.

Don't extend the set, increase the intensity of it.

Drew Baye
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Iron395

I read where Mentzer disliked drop sets because you were lowering the intensity by making the weights lighter. It was no longer a maximum effort to contiue the set. Mike version of rest-pause is much different than drop sets and traditional rest-pause. His method had an individual taking their one rep max and perform it in an all-out movement,then rest ten to fifteen seconds then perform the movement again. He recommended around four reps in this style. He theorized that if the last rep was the most effective,than why not just do the last reps.

As you can see their is no reduction of maximum effort in Mentzers style of rest-pause, like there is in drop sets.

Tom
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madmaniac

not sure how true this is but...

http://naturalstrength.com/...p?ArticleID=207


Research on Breakdown Training

In a recent research study, we compared standard training with breakdown training. Forty-five adults (men and women between 25 and 54 years of age) and 15 seniors (men and women between 55 and 84 years of age) participated in this study.

During the first four weeks all 60 subjects trained in the standard manner (one set of 8-12 repetitions per exercise). During the second four weeks half of the subjects continued to perform one set of 8-12 repetitions per exercise. The other half performed one set of 8-12 repetitions, then immediately reduced the weightload by 10 pounds and completed as many additional repetitions as possible (typically 2-4 breakdown reps with the lighter resistance).

The subjects who performed breakdown training experienced significantly greater strength gains than the subjects who trained in the standard manner. The high-intensity-trained adults gained 39 percent more strength and the high-intensity-trained seniors gained 100 percent more strength.

Given these findings, it would appear that breakdown training is more effective than standard training for developing muscle strength. It is assumed that the breakdown repetitions produced a greater strength-building stimulus. It is also likely, however, that the breakdown repetitions encouraged greater training effort. That is, the subjects who performed breakdown repetitions probably pushed themselves harder after realizing that the standard training set did not fully fatigue their muscles. This learning effect may explain the large difference in strength development between the two senior groups.

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ics1974

madmaniac,

Interesting article.

Drew,

I agree with what you are saying.
What needs to be invented is a machine that will let you lift your 1RM on every rep by automatically reducing the poundage rep by rep.
If it could figure out your new 1RM for each rep you would have the ultimate high intensity machine.

ICS
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

I'm right there with Drew on his comments. You must start with a weight that is a fair amount larger than your current workout poundage, or you risk getting an overall TUL that may be too high. In this manner, drop sets are a good way to get your muscles used to handling heavier weights, while still keeping the duration of the set at a level sufficient for hypertrophy.

This being said, I think drop sets are MOST suitable for muscles with higher percentages of ST fibers. You may still perform them with high-FT muscles, but you might consider using even higher weights to start with and even resting slightly (~10 seconds) between drops. You may notice that when you do this, you are approaching the same procedures as rest pause training.

Scott
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

ics wrote:
I agree with what you are saying.
What needs to be invented is a machine that will let you lift your 1RM on every rep by automatically reducing the poundage rep by rep.
If it could figure out your new 1RM for each rep you would have the ultimate high intensity machine.
ICS


This is what the exertron weight stacks are supposed to do. They can be programmed to start with a certain amount of weight, and reduce the resistance by a set percentage each repetition.

Drew Baye
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bill1

California, USA

ics wrote:
madmaniac,

Interesting article.

Drew,

I agree with what you are saying.
What needs to be invented is a machine that will let you lift your 1RM on every rep by automatically reducing the poundage rep by rep.
If it could figure out your new 1RM for each rep you would have the ultimate high intensity machine.

ICS

Drew already posted something about such a macchine under the heading "EXERTRON" .

I think Drew is right with his thinking about drop sets.

The study with seniors was interesting , I think it is seniors who have the most to benefit fron resistance training.

Bill
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Nwlifter

I personally like drop sets, and the study was cool, but...

You see, in a single straight set performed to failure, you don't activate every fiber in a muscle group

THAT is very wrong. I hate all this mis-information in all these articles. Full recruitment, that means ALL fibers, are recruited with as little as 50-85% of your maximum effort. There is more than enough reliable research on this point.

"The relative contribution of motor unit recruitment to muscle force varies between muscles. In some hand muscles for example, all motor units are recruited at around 50% of maximum. In other muscles, such as the bicep brachii, deltoid, and tiblias anterior, motor unit recuitment continues upto 85% of the maximum force (Deluca, LeFever, McCue & Xenakis, 1982a; Kukulka & Clamann, 1981; Van Cutsem et al,. 1997)"

From p290, Neuromechanics of Human Movement 3rd Edition. Roger M. Enoka
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ics1974

I just watched the Exertron video. Very impressive!
I want one! ;-)

ICS
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

bill1 wrote:

The study with seniors was interesting , I think it is seniors who have the most to benefit fron resistance training.

Bill


Absolutely. The CDC recently posted the following article on their web site about the benefits of strength training for older adults:

http://www.cdc.gov/...tronger/why.htm

It says,

"There are numerous benefits to strength training regularly, particularly as you grow older. It can be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, among them:

arthritis
diabetes
osteoporosis
obesity
back pain
depression"

Then it goes on to explain how strength training improves these conditions.

One of the presentations at the HIT seminar this weekend is going to be on sarcopenia and it's effects on these conditions.

Drew Baye
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

Nwlifter wrote:
From p290, Neuromechanics of Human Movement 3rd Edition. Roger M. Enoka


It's heavy reading, but well worth it. I strongly recommend that anybody with a serious interest in exercise pick this up. If you look around the various used book sites on the net you should be able to pick up a copy relatively cheaply.

Drew Baye
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Gazz

Problem with drop sets is one of psychology. No matter who you are, how motivated you are, in doing a drop set you're mentally gearing up to do another set. Chances are, you'll hold back from total failure in the primary set albeit subconciously.

I feel that this is the same to certain extent with pre exhaustion, the knowledge that there is more work to come.

All the best
Gazz
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bill1

California, USA

Gazz wrote:
Problem with drop sets is one of psychology. No matter who you are, how motivated you are, in doing a drop set you're mentally gearing up to do another set. Chances are, you'll hold back from total failure in the primary set albeit subconciously.

I feel that this is the same to certain extent with pre exhaustion, the knowledge that there is more work to come.

All the best
Gazz


Psychology/ motivation is a primary factor.

Bill
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chaos138

Florida, USA

Drew Baye wrote:

If I had a training partner to perform drop sets with this is how I would do it.
Drew Baye


Dude, you live 2 miles from my gym. I have offered to train you! Not to mention the fact that I am one of the few people you know who is strong enough for you to do negative only training with.

It's ok though, just admit that you are afraid of me training you.
Tell the group...

"I Drew Baye, am overwhelmed with fear just at the thought of how hard I will have to work at Brian Nicklas's gym. My little girl arms and chicken legs tremble even with the light weights I use, How could I compete with the likes of Brian!"

LOL

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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

The last time Brian trained me, he kicked my ass!

The main reason I'm training at Gold's is that they have a wide enough variety of equipment that I can do pretty much any exercise I want to include in the workouts.

Plus, for reasons having to do with writing projects, I feel it is important to be in a commercial gym so that I can better relate to what the majority of people go through with their workouts. The environment (Ken's SS facility) I trained in for most of the past 10 years is so completely different than what most people train in that I feel I've lost a lot of perspective on what people have to deal with when they're trying to train.

Drew Baye
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Nwlifter

Drew, you've read Neuromechanics?

Wow, finally someone else who has read this, I was beginning to think I was the only one!

Ron
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

Drew,

I see 3rd edition Neuromechanics starting at about $59, but earlier editions are cheaper (~$12). Do you know how much changed from the earlier ones?

Thanx,
Scott
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Nwlifter

I'm not Drew, (but I play one on TV LOL), there are just some recent additions to newer science. IF you can, get the 3rd edition. That's the one I have and it's GREAT! If you read that, I mean REALLY read and learn it, you'll be so far ahead of most people it's amazing. But it takes about 3 reads over a few months and a LOT of pondering on the stuff :)

Ron
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

I haven't read any of the earlier editions, so I don't know what the differences are.

Drew Baye
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kevindill

Maryland, USA

Gazz wrote:
Problem with drop sets is one of psychology. No matter who you are, how motivated you are, in doing a drop set you're mentally gearing up to do another set. Chances are, you'll hold back from total failure in the primary set albeit subconciously.

I feel that this is the same to certain extent with pre exhaustion, the knowledge that there is more work to come.

All the best
Gazz


I'm willing to bet one American Dollar that even when only doing a single set, no intensifier, that 99%++ of people training to failure only reach volitional failure not muscular failure. This, IMHO, is why drop sets, pre/post exhaust etc work. They create the inroads. Its the old issue of, if I put a gun to your head could you do another rep? People who train on thier own are particularly prone to VF vs MMF.

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Nwlifter

I agree COMPLETELY.

It's easy to hit muscular failure in a small exercise, like wrist curls, or even seated calves, but squats to muscular failure? One in a million!

Good point!

Ron
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