Training techniques: drop sets

Nancy Heynis
9 November 2022
Reading time: 8 minutes

Always training the same way is also so boring. But did you know that there are a lot of training techniques that allow you to make your training more challenging and exciting? Today we will talk about drop sets. These have been used for years by athletes whose goal is to build muscle mass. This method ensures that your muscles are extra stimulated. Read on to find out what it is and how to apply it exactly!

What are drop sets?

Drop sets is a training method in which you lower the weight after each set. With the first set you pick up a weight at your maximum capacity, but where you can still do 5 to 8 repetitions. Then lower the weight by about 10% to 30% after each set. You do not take a (shortest possible) rest break after the sets and you perform the new set until ‘failure’. For example, it might look like this:



8 reps

20 kg

8 reps (until failure)

16 kg

7 reps (until failure)

14 kg

5 reps (until failure)

12 kg

Advantages of drop sets

This training method is a very effective way to promote muscle hypertrophy (increase in muscle size) and muscle endurance. Plus, it’s super handy if you’re short on time!

Drop sets promote muscle growth

A 2018 study compared a group of athletes who performed only conventional resistance exercises during a 6-week training schedule. On the other hand, a group that only trained through drop sets. It turned out that the group that only did drop set workouts developed more muscle mass. This is likely due to a higher stress on those muscles they experience during drop sets.

Drop sets fully targeted all muscle fibers. Because you train to fall, you also grab the small muscle fibers. By taking no or as short a rest as possible, the muscle fibers become extra tired, which can promote muscle growth.

Drop sets increase muscle endurance

Muscular endurance is defined as the ability of your muscles to exert force over and over again. It means that you can do more and more repetitions.

The same study showed that in 9 untrained young men training with single drop sets, measured by maximal repetitions at 30% of the one rep max (1RM), increased muscle endurance. This turned out to be the case even with less training time than ‘normal’ strength training. In less time, drop sets can therefore help to increase muscle endurance.

Because you have minimal rest breaks on drop sets, you can complete sets of each exercise in less time. But watch out! Although the benefits of drop sets have been proven, not every set in your training should consist of drop sets. This training method demands a lot from your body.

Variations drop sets

Drop sets can be performed in several ways. We explain the different variants below:

Comic sets

Dropset with a barbell with small discs on it. You take them off piece by piece if you can’t handle it anymore. Tip: train with a buddy so that the weights can be removed as quickly as possible, so that the rest periods are as short as possible.

Up the stack

Perform drop sets on a fitness machine such as a leg extension. This also gives you the opportunity to quickly reduce the weight.

Dumbbell drop sets

You can also lower the weight relatively quickly by performing drop sets with dumbbells. Think shoulder press or a Bulgarian split squat.

Tight drop sets

If you train small muscle groups, you usually also train with less weight. You are therefore not able to drop the weight enormously, but with a reduction of 5% to 15%.

wide drop sets

With large muscle groups, you can significantly reduce the weight after each set by up to 40%. In this case we speak of a wide drop set.

Rep drop sets

Here you also increase the number of repetitions. That means that you lower the weight considerably so that you can continue to do several repetitions. It then looks like this:



8 reps

80 kg

12 reps (until failure)

60 kg

16 reps (until failure)

40 kg

20 reps (until failure)

20 kg

Drop super set

Here you can combine super sets with a drop set. So you first perform two exercises in succession, after which you lower the weight.

There are various training methods that you can apply that allow you to train at maximum capacity. Vary the different drop sets and also different methods to find out what works for you! After all, every body is different.

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