Drop Sets, Down Sets, Finishers...call them whatever you want, they are the shit!!!
When athletes first start training with me, the first question they ask me is, “Why do we have to do drop sets?” First, let’s go over exactly what I mean by drop sets.
Drop Set (for Olympic weightlifting): Sets I use to prescribe for drastic technical improvements. After a few heavy sets, a drop set forces an athlete to truly focus on technique. Typically, I prefer the pace to be a bit faster and weight a little lighter. 3 x 3 or 2 x 4 are some sets and reps prescriptions I like using for drop sets. I may also make them timed to get the athlete to move faster and force them to find a quick rhythm with stronger technique.
Drop Set (for general strength): For general strength work, I like to use drop sets as unbroken sets or as rapid sets. Occasionally, I will use a near burnout set as the drop set. Typically, drop sets would appear in this scheme.
3 x 4
3 x 8-10 fast
So the 8-10 reps fast would fully imprint the motor units that were recruited for the heavy 4’s. I also like to alter the drop sets primarily based around the goal or point of periodization for the individual. Even with deads, benches and squats, the drop set can provide some stable technical improvements and even some mobility gains.
Burnout (bodybuilding): The burnout is similar to drop sets. This is a trick we use to increase Time Under Tension (TuT). After 4-6 sets on a movement, I may ask for 20-30 reps on an exercise or even sets of 50 straight. This burnout set or drop set can lead to massive gains in muscular hypertrophy and subsequently large growth from the targeted area. Burnouts are a great way to get a quick pump going and to really pack on muscle size. Just like their fellow drop sets, they are incredibly effective.
I use drop sets in just about every day of my athletes programs. They can single handedly blow up a targeted area and get rid of inefficiencies. I highly recommend playing around with the drop sets and see if your body can handle the volume.
Prescription of Number of Sets: How to Differentiate from Athlete to Athlete and Lift to Lift