Archive for the tag - drop sets

Running The Rack Workout Technique!

14981056675_b2db876f07_kWhen looking to increase intensity or break through plateaus, dropsets are a great strategy. As I’ve mentioned before, a dropset is as follows:

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 resistance.

Typically, dropsets are best utilized with a workout partner. They can quickly change the weight plates on your barbell. However, if you’re flying solo, you can also use a dropset strategy by “running the rack.”

Here’s how running the rack works.

Approach the rack and select a dumbbell that allows you to complete a normal set of a given exercise. For example, I would use the 55 lb dumbbells to complete 7 bicep curls. Immediately replace the dumbbells with a set that is 5 pounds lighter. Try to complete an additional set. Drop down another 5 pounds and continue on until completing the set is no longer challenging.

It sounds easy. But I promise it’s not. As such, make sure that you don’t compromise your form as the intensity cranks up.

Next time you hit the gym, give it a try.

P.S. If you’re looking to increase muscle size, download “Size Matters: Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle” and get started today!

What Are Supersets Good For?

77290978_XSIf you’ve done any exercise-related research, you’ve probably come across the term superset. A superset is when you perform two exercises back-to-back without stopping.

In doing supersets, you have two options. You can either superset the same muscle group or you can superset different muscle groups. For example, you could superset pull-ups with barbell biceps curls to really hit your biceps. Or you could superset an exercise like the bench press (that works your chest) with dumbbell rows (that train your back).

If you use supersets to target the same muscle group, you may discover that it’s a really effective way to break through a stubborn plateau. Because supersets performed on the same muscle group will mean hitting that muscle deeper and harder, you’ll probably make some impressive strength gains for subsequent workouts.

Using supersets to train different muscle groups is extremely popular. The advantage here is simple. If you’re planning to do a chest and back workout, using supersets allows you to do more in less time by cutting out extra rest periods. Instead of sitting around for 60 seconds during a rest period, you’re able to go on to another exercise for a different muscle group. You’ll still get the recovery you need, but you’ll be working another muscle group in the meantime.

Regardless of how you use supersets, they will certainly make your heart pump harder. In fact, you’ll probably break a sweat; supersets can be something of a cardio workout and you may test your endurance - but you’ll quickly adjust in a few weeks.

To get the most out of your workout in the least amount of time, give supersets a try! And take a look at drop sets and negatives for additional training techniques.

Free Weights Vs. Cables.

When it comes to strength training, people often ask me whether free weights or cables are more effective. Like many things in fitness, the answer is: It depends.

Let’s start with the basics. Free weight exercises involve using dumbbells or barbells. Because these apparatuses aren’t confined, your movements aren’t limited, restricted or dictated by a machine. Cable exercises, on the other hand, are done on machines with pulleys and handles. Using a pin, you can adjust the amount of weight with which you’re working.

Beyond being time-tested and extremely effective, free weights are very versatile. Some of the crucial exercises, like squats, chest presses and lunges, are difficult or impossible to perform using the cable machine. Conversely, hip abductions and adductions are only possible using cables.

Cables do have a few advantages. For one, they provide constant tension on your muscles during an exercise. When using free weights, you only experience resistance when you’re working against gravity. With cables, the resistance is constant throughout the movement - and this can result in a more efficient workout on some exercises. Moreover, because the amount of resistance can be adjusted quickly on cable machines, they’re well-suited for muscle-building workout strategies like drop sets.

With all this in mind, it’s not really a question of either free weights or cables. In my workout, I use both. For example, I enjoy doing triceps pulldowns on cables while still doing some of the more traditional exercises - like chest presses, shoulder presses, squats, curls, etc. - with free weights.

Both free weights and cables provide muscles with resistance and both can result in gains of muscle size, strength and/or endurance. Whether an individual opts for free weights or cables often depends on the type of exercise being performed or the individual’s preference.

How to Do Forced Reps in Strength Training.

The forced reps technique is an effective strength training strategy to increase muscle mass.

The first time I encountered forced reps was while working with a trainer in Sydney, Australia. I was performing my final set of barbell bicep curls and approaching muscle failure. Just as I was about to complete my last rep, the trainer grabbed the barbell with two hands and shouted for me to continue. By assisting the movement, he was lifting some of the weight for me - and so I continued to curl. As my muscles continued to reach fatigue, the trainer provided a heavier and heavier spot - and so I continued and continued and continued until he was doing most of the work.

When we finally stopped, my arms were shaking worse than the east coast earthquake. Moreover, it took me days to recover.

Needless to say, the technique is called forced reps. And while you do need the help of a trusted spotter, forced reps can be performed with many barbell exercises - most commonly, the bench press. Once you reach failure, have the spotter lift some of the weight for you. As you continue to fatigue, he lifts more and more of the weight. You can eek out an extra 20 or 30 repetitions without any rest.

The idea behind forced sets is similar to that of drop sets. By lightening the weight, you’re able to move past your initial muscle failure and eventually approach absolute muscle failure. Forced sets tear deep into muscle tissue and thus result in increased muscle growth - and they are true shock to your system.

But a word of caution: Forced reps are extremely taxing and shouldn’t be used for each set. In fact, after completing the set of forced reps in Sydney, the trainer told me that I shouldn’t do it again for several weeks. So while they’re a great muscle building technique, don’t abuse forced reps in your routine; use sparingly.

5 Creative Drop Set Techniques.

Use these creative drop sets to up your workout game - and gains!

As I’ve mentioned before, drop sets just might be one of the most effective muscle-building techniques around.

Drops sets are a strength training technique wherein you perform a set of any exercise to failure (or just short of failure) for between 8 and 12 reps – and then drop some weight (usually 15%) and continue for additional repetitions with the reduced resistance. Once failure is again reached, additional resistance is dropped and so on.

But even standard drop sets can get old and stale, so try switching things up with the following five variations:

  1. Zero Rest Drop Sets. To perform a good drop set, it’s important to minimize rest time. Less than 10 seconds is ideal. To perform a true zero rest drop set, you’ll need two spotters. As you finish the last repetition in the set, the spotters can remove the appropriate weight from the machine. For example, you may load a leg press machine with 25lb weight plates. After each set, your spotters can remove one weight plate. You’ll be amazed at the difference a few seconds can make!
  2. Tight Drop Sets. While the typical drop set involves a 15% reduction in resistance, try something smaller - like 10% or even 5% reductions. For example, you could move from 50lb dumbbells immediately to 45lb dumbbells, and then 40lbs, 37.5lbs, 35lbs and so on.
  3. Grip Change Drop Sets. As you change your grip (i.e., wide grip vs. narrow grip, etc.) or adjust your stance (i.e., shoulder-width, feet together, toes pointed out, etc.), you place emphasis on different muscles. Try alternating between different grips or stances as you move through your drop sets to really hit each muscle.
  4. Wide Drop Sets. Instead of removing the typical 15% of resistance, opt for larger weight decreases of 20% or greater. Wide drop sets are used because they allow for a greater number of repetitions until muscle failure.
  5. Power Drop Sets. While typical drop sets require starting with an amount of resistance that allows for 8 - 12 repetitions, six is the magic number for power drop sets. Start with a 6-rep max, and then decrease the weight by 10% or 15% so that you can perform exactly six more reps at each drop. Since you’re using higher resistance levels at 6 reps (vs. 8 - 12), it’s a great way to build muscle mass.

While “enjoy” might be the wrong word to use, I hope you’re able to make the most of these creative drop set variations.

Best Triceps Exercise for Muscle Growth.

Dear Davey,

I want to get bigger triceps. What exercise would you recommend that I try at the gym?


Dear Michael,

The tricep (short for triceps brachii muscle) is the large muscle at the back of your upper arm. It’s responsible for extending your elbow joint and straightening your arm.

My current favorite exercise is performing drop sets of tricep rope pulldowns (sometimes called the tricep rope extensions). Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Locate a cable machine at your gym and adjust the pulley so that it’s as high as possible. Use a rope attachment as pictured in the animation below.
  2. Select an amount of weight that will fatigue your triceps after 8 - 10 repetitions.
  3. Grip both ends of the rope with thumbs facing up.
  4. Keep your arms locked in at your sides, and pull the rope down.
  5. Fully extend your arms and pull the ends of the rope 6 - 12 inches apart at the bottom (for an extra contraction).
  6. Slowly return to the starting position and complete the remaining repetitions until muscle failure.
  7. Immediately reduce the weight by one level on the cable machine and complete another set until failure.
  8. Then, immediately reduce the weight again by one level. Continue until weight amount becomes insignificant.

Once you’re done, take a break and try doing the whole drop set all over again.

While the tricep rope pulldown is a great exercise in and of itself, combining it with the drop set technique will leave your triceps screaming. It’s absolutely great for muscle growth - and I think you’ll be pleased with the results.