When it comes to making progress in the gym, finding ways to up the intensity and keep your body adapting is key. Two great training techniques to help you get this done are Drop Sets and Rest-Pause Training.
Drop Sets are an easy way to take your training of a particular muscle group to a new level. They can be used throughout your workout program or reserved for those key, stubborn areas that need extra attention. After you complete your normal set, reduce the weight by 1/3-1/2 of the amount you were using and immediately continue to do another set with the lighter weight. For example, lets say you did a set of lateral raises with 30 pound dumbbells. After you’ve done the last rep, rack the 30’s and grab a pair of 15’s or 20’s and without rest do another set. You can do a single drop or reduce the weight 2-3 times to really tax the muscles. You will immediately feel the lactic acid burn and increased pump from this technique.
Drop sets are a technique best employed by intermediate and advanced trainees. As with most intensity techniques, drop sets should be reserved for only 1-2 sets of one or two exercises per body part so as to prevent over training. The goal is to “stimulate not annihilate” to quote 8-time Mr. Olympia, the great Lee Haney.
Rest-Pause sets are one of the most advanced training techniques that are available. They are great to use to push a stubborn body part to respond or to keep a troubled area from losing mass as you diet down. It allows you to increase the intensity while still using the maximum loads in a safe, controlled manner.
After you do your normal set to failure, take a 10-15 sec. pause, then continue on with the set still using the same weight for 4-6 more reps or until failure. It is similar to drop sets except that you don’t reduce the weight, and you take a 10-15 second pause to allow for a bit of recovery. It’s amazing how fast the body can recover and go from a state of feeling completely spent to being able to perform several more reps, still with the same loads. By keeping the weights the same you maintain intensity at the highest level and really force the muscles to work. Again, only use this technique for 1-2 sets on one or two exercise per body part.
Training is an ongoing part of your fitness program. By incorporating some different techniques you can keep your mind challenged and your body responding so that you can make the improvements you seek. Give drop sets and rest-pause training a try the next time you want to step up your game.
Photo: Terry Goodlad Model: Valorie Annunzatia