Written by John M. Di Fazio II
29 September 2023

 dropsets training 92923

 

 

 

 

 

Drop Sets to Build Muscle: Total Body Workout

By John M. Di Fazio II

 

Drop sets tax the muscles in a very different way than do straight sets or supersets. They pre-exhaust the targeted muscle in a triple-threat attack, engaging the muscle fibers in an unorthodox way. I find that drop sets create the most soreness in every body part because of this three-tiered attack. Drop sets can be applied to free weights and machines, including dumbbells, barbells, and cable exercises. The exercise can require the simple moving of a machine pin from 400 pounds to 300 pounds to 200 pounds, or with workout partners removing plates to reduce the weight after a consecutive amount of repetitions. Another variation can be moving down the dumbbell rack doing alternating biceps curls, for example: 50 pounds x 7 reps, 40 pounds x 7 reps, and 30 pounds x 7 reps, consecutively. There are several variations, depending on the exercise performed.

 

After warming up, traditional drop sets begin with the heaviest of three weights, and then drop to a lighter weight, and then again to an even lighter weight in a succession of 7-7-7 repetitions, totaling 21 repetitions. For example, on leg day, if I’m leg-pressing 800 pounds, I’ll do it for 7 reps, strip the weights to 600 pounds for 7 reps, and then strip it to 400 pounds for 7 reps, completing 21 repetitions. I will often include some other drop set variations, including movements that I refer to as “LITTLE-MIDDLE-FULL” or “pulses,” in which we don’t actually drop the weight that we are using, but rather change the angle of the movement, also keeping to the 7-7-7 repetition range. This particular variation is usually called “21’s,” and is commonly applied to barbell biceps curls, but it can really be applied to any movement, both pulling and pushing exercises alike.

 

I do drop sets on the third week of each month. It is an excellent way to add variety to your workouts and expose your muscles to foreign stress. I have provided multiple workouts for drop set week for each body part below. Apply the following workouts with four to five exercises per body part on a given day, multiplied by 2 sets. Make your workouts interesting. It provides both muscle stimulation and mental stimulation, keeping you physically and mentally engaged at all times. Enjoy the results!

 

DROP SETS

 

Leg Day A

 

Barbell Squats - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Leg Press 2 - sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Leg Extensions - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Lying Leg Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Standing Calf Raises - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

Leg Day B

 

Leg Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Kettlebell Squats - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Stationary Dumbbell Lunges - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Stiff-Leg Deadlifts - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Standing Calf Raises - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

Leg Day C

 

Dumbbell Squats - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Front Dumbbell Squats - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Leg Extensions - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Seated Leg Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Donkey Calf Raises - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

 

Chest Day A

 

Flat Bench Barbell Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Incline Dumbbell Press - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Decline Barbell Bench Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Incline Dumbbell Flyes - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Cable Crossovers - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

Chest Day B

 

Flat Bench Dumbbell Press - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Incline Barbell Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Decline Dumbbell Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Dips - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full Pulses x 7

 

Chest Day C

 

Decline Barbell Bench Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Flat Bench Barbell Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Incline Dumbbell Press - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Cable Flyes - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Push-ups - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

 

Back Day A

 

Deadlifts - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Assisted or Unassisted Pull-Ups - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Reverse-Grip Pulldown - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

T-Bar Wide-Grip Rows - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Machine Row - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

Back Day B

 

Pulldowns - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Reverse-Grip Pulldowns - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Close-Grip Pulldowns - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Row Machine - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Ball Hyperextensions - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

 

Back Day C

 

Dumbbell Rows - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Pull-Ups - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Chin-Ups - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Close-Grip Pull-Ups - 2 sets Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

T-Bar Angled Rows - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Ball Hyperextensions - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

 

Deltoids Day A

 

Seated Front Barbell Press - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Front Alternating Dumbbell Raises - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Lateral Dumbbell Raises - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Seated Rear Deltoid Dumbbell Raises - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Barbell Shrugs - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

Deltoids Day B

 

Seated Overhead Dumbbell Press - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Front Barbell Raises - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Lateral Raise Machine - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Standing Rear Deltoid Dumbbell Raises - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Dumbbell Shrugs - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

Deltoids Day C

 

Military Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Dumbbell Up-In-Out-Down - 2 sets x 7 times

Lateral Dumbbell Raises - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Seated Rear Deltoid Dumbbell Raises - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Upright Rows - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Barbell Shrugs - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

Biceps and Triceps Day A

 

Close-Grip Bench Press - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Overhead Single-Arm Dumbbell Extensions - 2 sets of Little-Middle-Full pulses x 7

Rope Extensions - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Cable Pushdowns - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Barbell Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21) (7 low, 7 high, 7 full)

Dumbbell Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

E-Z Curl Bar Preacher Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Concentration Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21) (7 low, 7 high, 7 full)

 

Biceps and Triceps Day B

 

Weighted Dips - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21) (7 low, 7 high, 7 full)

Overhead Rope Extensions - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Bench Dips - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Double Triceps Pulldowns - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

E-Z Curl Bar Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21) (7 low, 7 high, 7 full)

Preacher Curl Machine - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Seated Dumbbell Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Incline Dumbbell Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21) (7 low, 7 high, 7 full)

 

Biceps and Triceps Day C

 

Cable Pulldowns - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Rope Extensions - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Cable Pushdowns - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Close-Grip Push-Ups - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21) (7 low, 7 high, 7 full)

Alternating Dumbbell Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

E-Z Curl Bar Cable Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Preacher Curl Machine - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

Single Cable Curls - 2 sets x 7-7-7 reps (21)

 

John M. Di Fazio II is a nutrition consultant, personal trainer and massage therapist with over 25 of experience working in the fitness industry. He was employed by Gold’s Gym for 13 years and in 2005 co-founded Remedy Fitness in New York. While in the employ of Gold’s Gym, he was recruited into Nutritionalysis, a nutrition company based in Venice Beach, California that specialized in individualized nutrition programs, and received his certification. For more information, visit remedyresults.com

 

 

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