What Are Drops Sets & How Can You Use Them?

For serious muscles like these, drops sets are an effective strength training technique.

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

Drop sets are great for bodybuilders or individuals looking to make gains in muscle size. Simply put, few other training techniques can break down muscle fibers as effectively as drop sets - so if you incorporate drop sets into your routine, you will see significant gains in mass. However, drop sets are not advised for athletes or people looking for gains in strength. Moreover, most athletes want strength or speed without the bulk - and so drop sets will be at odds with their goals.

To perform a drop set, select an amount of resistance that will result in muscle failure after 8 - 12 reps. While you’ve reached failure, you haven’t reached absolute failure; quickly decrease the amount of weight by about 15% and continue. After 8 or so reps, you’ll hit failure again. Reduce the resistance by another 15% and continue. Keep going.

Obviously, drop sets require some planning. Since rest time should be between zero and ten seconds, they’re most popular on machines; adjusting the weight is as quick as changing a pin. If you do drop sets on a barbell, you may need to work with a spotter and/or load the barbell with lots of small weight plates for faster adjustments. If you work with dumbbells, line them up on the floor in advance - and simply work your way down the line.

If you’re purely looking for gains in mass, then drop sets are a great technique to try occasionally try out and incorporate! I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

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! Call me superficial, but gains in muscle mass sounds great to me 😛 I’m going to incorporate this for the next month or so and see how it turns out!

  2. I’ve been using drop sets for a few months and had amazing results. Another benefit you don’t mention is that you can do more in less time because you don’t rest as much between sets.

  3. Before I forgot how to get to the gym (oops) I had incorporated drop sets into my routine. Best choice I ever made for bicep growth. Will definitely be incorporating once I get built back up a little.

  4. My gym frowns on people (loudly) dropping weights. 🙁 I’m guessing the machine would be just as noisy as well. However, the key concept is understood. Going from max to min. Gotcha!

    • Just because they’re called “drop” sets doesn’t mean you have to drop the weights! You can place them on the ground to avoid loud noise. 😀

  5. How many drop sets should I perform? Just one? For example: I do 3 sets of 10 reps on the leg press machine with the same weight. If I were to do the drop set, should I do 3 sets also? Or just one, and move on to the next machine?

    • just keep them reps going untill you find yourself not being able to lift any more sets, the whole point of this exercize is not to follow a certain program with reps and sets, but to break down the muscle as effectively as possible, because as we all know: we dont gain muscle being at the gym, we gain it AFTER the gym when the fibers in the muscle is rebuilding itself.

      immagine if you will:
      you are at the gym, working out, your body thinks to itself that “omg, this is soo F’ing heavy, next time i need more power so i dont get so tired”.
      so when you leave the gym your body rebuilds its muscle fibers, then adds a tiny bit extra to compensate for the weight load at the gym.

      the more broken down (to a certain limit ofcourse) your muscle is, the more % size it will gain to compensate so it hopefully wount get as damaged next time.

      hope this was of any help to ya.

  6. Just finished my second drop sets workout, this time with my husband. The darn thing is hard! 🙂
    But judging by the muscle pain, it’s probably as effective as it is hard.

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