Use Drop Sets to Increase Muscle Size.

The future governor of California says hasta la vista to stubborn muscles.

Bodybuilders love drop sets, and though you might not be competing or the next Mr. Olympia competition, they’re useful if (muscle) size is your thing. Drop sets tear deep into muscle tissue, thus causing explosive growth; use this technique to target muscles that are particularly stubborn.

A drop set is a technique wherein, after completing a set of a given exercise until failure, you drop down the weight and immediately continue the exercise with reduced poundage.

Let’s use the bench press as an example. I could do 10 reps at 220lbs before I hit failure. The 10th repetition would be very hard for me – there’s no way that I could go for an 11th without cheating or dying. My muscles have hit the point of failure for that weight – but not absolute failure. I could do additional repetitions at a lower weight. With drop sets, I’d quickly reduce the weight by 15%-20% – perhaps down to about 180 lbs – and then keep going until failure. I’d repeat this process for a number of sets.

For an extra challenge, workout with a buddy or two and try a “zero rest set.” Stopping and changing the weights takes a bit of time. But with a zero rest set, you have a workout partner quickly switch the weights for you. The difference – even if it’s just a few seconds – is substantial!

Arnold Schwarzenegger, by the way, was a huge fan of drop sets. So, if you’re looking to say “hasta la vista” to small or stubborn muscles, drop sets could just be your new best friend.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Awesome post Davey!

    Drop sets rule. I do them when I want to build extra muscle quickly. They are fun, and the pump feels awesome!

  2. Davey, you must have your eye on me!!! I started drop sets today.I am beat. Love ya Glenn

  3. davey… funny, i was telling a friend at my gym this very thing last night… youre reading my mind… doing a drop set after finishing your third or fourth set of any weight-lifting exercise is a great way to “finish yourself off”… i walk away from my workouts feeling really spent but in a good way when i do these… even pull-ups….
    p.s…. i also told him about this, your awesome fitness blog…
    pps.. mixing up your grip [over vs under, wide vs narrow, vertical vs horizontal] from set to set forces your muscles to adapt on the fly..
    ~ cheers….

    • Thanks for spreading word! And yes, they are a great way to finish off a workout. If people are time-pressed, they also work well as a stand-alone exercise.

  4. These are super easy to do if you are on a machine with a weight stack. Just move the pin up a plate.

  5. Oh, I’ve posted this on my yahoo group in the past, but would be cool to see you do an article on active vs. passive rest between sets.
    I like to get the most bang for the buck when I work out, and active rest is a great way to do it.

  6. Would you do 4 drop sets of the same exercise in a row?

    thas hard hey?!? =)

  7. My first trainer taught me this technique… he just didn’t have a name for it. When I tell friends, they often look at me strangely 🙂

  8. hey Davey , I just noticed a guy at the gym doing this and wondered what the benefits were , now i know , he does drops his weights 3 times , will start doing this too , cheers buddy

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  1. […] or break through plateaus, dropsets are a great strategy. As I’ve mentioned before, a dropset is as […]