One of my favourite techniques that I use when weight training is Drop sets.

Drop sets are a great way to increase the intensity of the workout, work deeper muscle fibres for longer, and fatigue the muscles more than conventional straight sets. Not only will this give you a great pump but when performed correctly over time will cause more hypertrophy (muscle growth).

There is a difference between complete muscle failure and failure of a particular poundage.

Example: If you perform 3 sets of 10 and honestly can’t achieve anymore than 10 reps on your final set, then this would mean you have achieved failure on that particular weight. However, this doesn’t mean you have achieved ‘complete’ muscle failure, as your muscles can continue but just not at that particular weight. In order to try and achieve true muscle failure simply drop the weight and continue.

Here are my go-to Drop Set Methods that I use:

Reverse Pyramid or Pyramid down:

On your final set of an exercise drop the weight by about 20-30% each time. Try and achieve more reps each time you drop the weight.


10rep first drop/  12reps 2nd drop / 15 reps 3rd drop /


(The first time you try this you might not decrease the weight enough and therefore are not able to increase the reps, don’t worry your still going to fatigue the muscle with what ever rep range you manage.)

Down the Rack:


Side raises is always a favourite of mine for this method.

Start at the heaviest weight you can do 10 reps at then drop the weight down by a few Kilos each time. Try and get as many reps as you can on each weight, repeat until there are no weights left. Rest for a few minutes and repeat this process 2-3 times!! Follow this link for more variations of Down the Rack.

The Finisher: 

I often use this method at the end of my workouts to leave the gym with a good pump.

At the end of your last set, drop the weight right down by about 50% and try and complete as many reps as possible until you can’t do anymore. I usually try and go for a complete burn out of 20-30 reps. This method is quite good if you have performed a heavier set first I.e. a heavy set of 6 straight into a lighter set of 20reps.

Drop Sets Rules:

1, Don’t use drop sets on every exercise it will drain your central nervous system (You will Burn out) E.g. If you are training Chest and Back and plan do to 4 Chest exercises and 4 Back then use drop sets on just 2 exercises of each muscle group. I tend to do most of mine nearer the end of my workout after my heavier lifting. I wouldn’t use this method if my goal was to gain Strength!

2, Only perform the drop set on the final set of an exercise.

3, Maintain Good form the whole way through the exercise. As soon as your form goes it’s time to drop the weight lighter.

4, If you are a beginner start with straight sets, and add in drop sets the more experienced you become.

5, Try not to take over the whole gym – If the gym is busy don’t use up every weight there is. Machine drop sets would be your best option where all you have to do is pull the pin out and put it back at a lighter weight instead of clearing the whole rack.

6, Focus on “Mind to Muscle” connection throughout the whole set. Make sure you feel every single rep. Don’t rush through it.


There are many different training techniques which are designed to help you achieve specific fitness goals. If your goal is to increase muscle size and main focus is to achieve an aesthetic body then I would highly recommend Drop sets to help you achieve this. It’s definitely helped me!

Matt Hall – Personal Training Loughborough