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Drop And Give Me Twenty!

Updated: Sep 17

This is something you might hear an military drill instructor say when his platoon is not following orders. Maybe you have heard it in a bootcamp or HIIT format class. In both cases, it refers to stopping the current shenanigans or activity, lowering oneself to the floor and cranking out pushups. Just an FYI, burpees work well too! Those of you that have followed my blog for a while know that being able to execute twenty pushups probably isn't the focus of this week's article. However, fitness is so let me explain what I meant by the title.


The last post introduced my next series that will discuss different workout styles. I know you all went out and did the exercises listed and hopefully increased your heart rate and initiated your built-in sweat machine. What new and exciting creations did you form? Today we will learn about a type with which most of you probably aren't as familiar...that of drop sets. No you don't in reality drop the weights (like you would a mic) as that might damage the equipment in addition to the floor. In fact, drop sets are a misnomer because you don't drop sets either. Hmmm...why then are they called drop sets? That's a good question and I actually can't tell you. What I can share is how they are done so that's exactly what I'm here to explain. Additionally, at the conclusion of this discussion, I will give a couple sample workouts to try if you'd like to change things up a bit.


An advantage to including this design into your regimen is it builds endurance and strength at a faster pace than most of the other styles. By pre-fatiguing the muscles, then asking them to survive through the most demanding conclusion, is a surefire way to change the appearance of the body, gain confidence in one's abilities and get the heart pumping.


Unlike the compound exercises specified last time, this format typically uses free weights or machines and takes quite a while to complete so having an available fitness center or gym membership and an extended lunch is a definite plus! Allow a good 90 minutes for a total body workout. If you have time constraints, you can pick a couple target areas and only do movements for that specific area and still reap the benefits. Are you ready to find out how these can be implemented into a routine? Of course you are...so let's go!


To complete a workout of this type, you will first need to have a general idea of how much weight you can lift on each exercise. If you honestly don't know, start with the lightest weight available and go from there. Remember earlier I mentioned that in drop sets you don't actually reduce the the number of sets? And that this style of workout takes longer than the compound one talked about last time? That's because after you pick the initial weight, the amount increases after each set. Conversely, the reps (or amount of times you lift the weight) decreases. Make sense? Maybe an example will help here...


I am basing the following on an assumption that many people reading this have a basic to beginning level of fitness and knowledge so I will apologize to those of you more advanced and am confident you can and will make the necessary adjustments to get the most out of your efforts. Say you picked a squat as your exercise. There are two ways this format works: dumbbells and weight bars


If working with dumbbells:

  1. Start with 5 lbs in each hand. Do the exercise 12x, take a short break to re-rack what you used.

  2. Grab a pair of 8 pound dumbbells and perform 10 reps and a rest period. Make sure to put away anything you get out so it is available for other members to use.

  3. Now select the 10s and complete 8 reps followed by a recovery period. Cleaning up when finished ensures a safer facility for everyone and that you achieve your step goal for the day.

  4. Your fourth set will require the 12# weights. If you are noticing a pattern here, you probably have figured out you only do 6 squats this round. Yes, you can return the weight to their proper slot because you won't need them anymore. Take a quick break, you've earned it!

  5. Lastly...and this is the fun part...a burnout set guarantees you will feel every muscle worked the next day. Don't increase the resistance...this time it is either half of your starting weight or body weight only. If you know me at all, you'll know there is always a surprise ending or trick up my sleeve so here aim to get through 25 reps. It's tougher than you think but builds both muscular endurance and strength along the way.

If weight bars were chosen:

  1. Select the lowest available option for resistance. Place the bar behind your head on the shoulders and upper back where it is the meatiest. Repeat the series as listed above increasing the weight and dropping how many you do after each set. For the burnout section, go back to your starting weight. It is always a nice gesture and proper gym etiquette to wipe down whatever you use when done so please be courteous of others.

So now maybe you understand why I said the term drop sets isn't exactly accurate, but they are most definitely challenging. While I used squats as a reference, you can put many different (or your favorite) activities into this style. Because you are doing a total of five sets and including multiple exercises, you see how time consuming a drop set workout can be. Just an FYI, body weight and cardio movements such as burpees, crunches, jumping jacks, leg lifts and pushups (to name a few) don't work very easily here so put those exercises on another day.


As you get stronger, it will become easier to do these. When this occurs, you have two options: 1) increase your first set of reps to 15 then do 12, 10 and 8 respectively or 2) up your starting weight by 2 1/2 to 5 lbs at the most and begin the process again (12, 10, 8, 6). Never do both simultaneously as that is when form breaks down and accidents happen.


As promised, I will share some of my most difficult as well as personal favorites you can try in drop set fashion. Since I am a huge fan of creativity, my suggestions will be listed by body part. Feel free to choose a couple from each column or mix and match your own inventions to suit your own taste.


Lower body

Heel raises

Leg press

Lunges

Quad extensions

Squats


Upper body

Bench/chest press

Bicep curls

Lat pull downs

Seated row

Tate press


Most of the above ideas can be done using both free weights and machines so you have lots of freedom when incorporating this type into your normal program. Please note that any of the workouts posted here on my website can be shared with family and friends. Also be aware that a proper recovery period of at least 24 hours is best between normal workouts and closer to 48 hrs after a heavy lifting day. It is crucial to keep hydrated so the bodily systems function as intended. A secondary option is to alternate body parts so as not to inflict overuse injuries or build up one area while leaving another neglected. With that being said, I hope you enjoy experimenting with the different options presented both here and in future blogs and look forward to hearing about and seeing how bodies and minds are changing one workout at a time! Until we chat again...get up, get out and get moving! You'll be glad you did!


What workout style intrigues you the most?

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