Drop sets: My new favorite exercise with weights
I don't know how many people out there stick to the old technique of doing 3 sets of 12 or something along those lines and while this is better than doing nothing at all, it really isn't a great way to overwork your muscles. Recently, I abandoned doing sets of a certain number and transitioned over to doing "drop sets" instead, and I am seeing and feeling much better results.
While I have done these in the past they didn't become my main focus until recently. I talked to a trainer friend of mine and he gave me the information I needed to get started, then I reinforced this notion by watching some videos by ATHLEAN-X™ over on YouTube. It isn't a terribly difficult concept, but just like with any weight lifting regimen, you need to figure out what is right for you.
The way drop sets work is that you take 3 or 4 sets of dumbbells (it can be a machine or really anything else as well) and you start with the heaviest ones. You need to be able to do a certain amount of reps but again, reps aren't really as important as people claim they are. The idea is to do as many reps on a heavy weight as you possibly can or as ATHLEAN-X says - as well as many other professional trainers - you do reps "to failure" meaning that you are incapable of lifting whatever weight another time.
Then, rather than taking a break you immediately pick up the lighter weight and repeat the process. Again, there is no magic number here but for me I aim for 8 for some reason. If you can't make it to 8 do as many as you can at the 2nd weight level, then move onto a 3rd, lighter weight, then 4, then 5. I think it is important to have at least 3 stages but the sky is the limit here and it is kind of up to you how you want to do it.
There is no science behind my personal rep choice, the idea is just to perform the motion to failure. The reason why I choose 8 is because if you can only bang out 2 reps there is a really good chance that this particular weight it too high for you and you could be hurting yourself or cheating at the lift and not targeting the muscle group you are intending to do.
You do NOT TAKE BREAKS until you have done the entire range of weights. I'm not huge, I'm not small either and I feel as though I am happy with my overall strength. Everyone is different in this regard so what is heavy to me might be light to you or vice versa
For my trial run I did seated incline bicep curls because I feel as though this position enforces good posture and unless you do a kick up with your knees it is almost impossible to cheat at this exercise.
I started with 15kg curls and didn't even make it to 8 reps. Then i did 12.5kg, 10's, 7.5s, 5s, and lastly 2.5kg dumbbells. It was actually quite amusing to me that by the time I made it to the 2.5's - which is a really tiny and almost silly looking weight, I was struggling to get the 8 reps done. This is because I have completely worked my biceps to exhaustion.
Also, my heart rate was up and the entire process took about 8 minutes. I then took a break for about 5 minutes and repeated the process and was able to do even less reps.
I was completely finished with my bicep-focused workout in 25 minutes. Had I followed the usual "3 sets of 12 with 2 minutes breaks" with a wide variety of different exercises, it would have taken substantially longer. I consider my time to be valuable so if I can go to the gym and be finished in half and hour this is a real win to me.
I left the gym with my arms feeling like rocks and when I was making my protein shake I could barely move my arms.
The only downside I can think of with this is if you are in a busy gym, you'd have to be a first-class a-hole to monopolize that many weights just for yourself all at once. Please don't be that guy! Everyone hates that guy!
Thankfully my building has a small gym that almost always has no one in it so I am able to pull this off there.
If you are pressed for time but still want to get a "deep burn" in you don't have to do more than 1000 like Ron Burgandy does and you don't have to spend all day in there. Drop sets are an amazing workout and I have seen better results from it in the past few weeks. I highly suggest you give it a go!
I went from star athlete in my 20's to fat ass in my 30's, to losing over 50 lbs and becoming the strongest I have ever been in my life in my 40's. I did this by making small and accomplishable changes in my life. If I can do it, I think that almost anyone else can as well