Whenever you perform an exercise to failure, your set stops not because you have exhausted all your muscle fibres but, simply, because you are unable to generate sufficient force to lift the weight you are using.


For example, if you are curling 20kg dumbbells, completing 10 reps but unable to do an eleventh, you simply no longer have the strength to lift 20kg. You may well be able to do a few more reps with 18kg.


You can extend your set (and do more reps) by reducing the weight. This is called a drop set. On reaching failure, you simply drop the weight by 10% or so and pump out a few more reps. Then, on reaching failure again, you drop the weight a second time and do yet more reps. As a result, your set continues beyond the point at which you would normally have had to stop. 


This intensity-boosting strategy is popular amongst bodybuilders as it allows them to more fully exhaust their muscles which should lead to increased growth. It is, however, a system that is not without flaws.


  • The time it takes to reduce the weight may mean you rest to long between drops and start to recover.

  • This system is impractical for exercises like bench presses, or squats

  • You end up performing set after set of the same exercise – boring!

  • The size of the drop is dictated by the next available weight increment and might not be right for you or the exercise you are performing

There is a solution to all these problems – mechanical drop sets.


Mechanical drop sets extend your working set not by reducing the weight but by moving to a new, similar exercise that is slightly easier. This allows you to quickly move from one exercise to the next without having to stop and change weights. It also injects some much needed variety into your workout and works your muscles from a variety of angles – something bodybuilders love to do.


Here are some tried and tested mechanical drop sets to use in your workouts. Remember, if you use this system, you need to move quickly from one exercise to the next; resting makes drop sets less effective. There is no need to change weights – just switch exercises. Make sure the weight selected keeps you in your preferred repetition range for the first exercise and then just do as many reps as you can for subsequent exercises.


1. Dumbbell flyes to dumbbell bench press

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onJan 28, 2018 at 5:27pm PST

This mechanical drop set will hammer your chest in two different ways to provide a wicked pump and a great workout.


  1. 1. Dumbbell flyes

  2. 2. Dumbbell bench press 

2. Back blaster pull-downs

Hit your lats from a variety of angles to really work your back and biceps.


  1. 1. Standing straight arm pull-down

  2. 2. Wide-grip lat pulldown

  3. 3. Underhand grip lat pulldown

3. Incline to decline dumbbell bench press

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onDec 30, 2017 at 4:22am PST

You’ll need a partner to change the angle of the bench for you but you’ll be rewarded with a very thorough chest workout that hits your upper, mid, and lower pecs.


  1. 1. 30-degree incline dumbbell bench press

  2. 2. Flat dumbbell bench press

  3. 3. 10-degree decline dumbbell bench press

4. Legs, legs, legs V1.

This quick and dirty leg workout will leave your quads shaking and your heart pounding but that’s why it works!


  1. 1. Barbell lunge – long stride

  2. 2. Barbell lunge – short stride

  3. 3. Barbell back squat

5. Legs, legs, legs V2.

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onDec 29, 2017 at 4:47pm PST

Squats are the theme of this second leg mechanical drop set. Love them or loath them, squats are key to developing bigger, stronger legs.


  1. 1. Overhead squats

  2. 2. Front squats

  3. 3. Back squats

6. Back to basics

There is nothing fancy about this back workout but it’s brutally hard and very effective. You might want a belt for this one!


  1. 1. Bent over rows

  2. 2. Power cleans

  3. 3. Deadlifts

7. Shoulders like boulders

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onJan 20, 2018 at 3:41pm PST

At the end of this mechanical drop set, you may find lifting your drinking bottle up to your mouth quite challenging…


  1. 1. Dumbbell side raise

  2. 2. Dumbbell front raise

  3. 3. Dumbbell upright row

  4. 4. Dumbbell overhead press

8. Biceps blaster

This mechanical drop set is based on the fact that single limb exercises are easier/stronger than two-limbed exercises. Don’t expect to do many additional reps in the second exercise but even a few more than usual will help trigger muscle growth.


  1. 1. Standing dumbbell curls – both hands together

  2. 2. Standing dumbbell curls – alternating arms

9. Abs-tastic leg lifts

 

A post shared by EHPlabs (@ehplabs) onFeb 8, 2018 at 6:46pm PST

Hanging leg lifts are a tough exercise and most people can only do a few with their legs straight. This mechanical drop set extends your set so you can do more than just a few reps of this great abs builder.


  1. 1. Hanging leg raises – straight legs

  2. 2. Hanging leg raises – knees bent

10. Bench press medley

Try this bench press mechanical drop set next national bench press day! It’s not only a great way to work your chest, it’s also super time-efficient.


  1. 1. Wide-grip bench press

  2. 2. Narrow-grip bench press
  1. 3. Normal-grip bench press

Whether you use them as occasional finishers or the cornerstone of your next training block, mechanical drop sets are a valuable training tool that is both effective and easy to implement. Take each exercise to failure and you can be certain you are triggering new muscle growth.


Recover from these brutal mechanical drop sets with Beyond BCAA! Replenish your muscles during or after your workout to come back even stronger next time!