The High Volume of Work in a Drop Set Can Lead to a Sort-Term Increase in the Amount of Blood in a Muscle

This additional volume results in an enhanced muscle size for a period of hours. If you’re working with a client or teaching a class late in the day on Thursday, Friday or Saturday you can leave your clients or students with a nice little pump for any weekend social outings. A proper drop set to complete fatigue can cause discomfort and potentially lead to delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Some clients can interpret DOMS as pain, which may provide a reason to stop working with a personal trainer. Physiological change is the result of the body performing more work than it is capable of, and the role of a personal trainer is to help clients become accustomed to being uncomfortable so they can experience results from exercise. If you use drop sets with your clients, prepare them for DOMS and offer them some recovery strategies that can help mitigate post-workout discomfort. Drop sets can be performed with dumbbells, barbells, fixed-bar weights or machines:
  • When using dumbbells, start with one pair and perform as many reps as possible. As soon as fatigue occurs, return the dumbbells to the rack and grab the next lightest pair.
  • Barbells and weight plates can also be used, but it takes longer to adjust the amount of resistance. Once fatigue is reached with a barbell, set it down, remove one plate from each side of the bar and continue working. It is recommended to load the bar with smaller weights (such as 25-, 10- or 5-pound plates) to provide more opportunity for continuing to exercise.
  • Fixed-bar weights are usually kept in a triangle-shaped rack, with the heaviest weights on the bottom and the lighter weights toward the top. Fixed-bar weights combine the benefits of using a barbell with the ease of transitioning from one weight to another offered by dumbbells. Simply set the weight in the rack and grab the next (lighter) weight above.
  • Weight machines are the easiest to perform drop sets with because it is easy to quickly move the pin from one place in the stack to another.
For clients interested in rapid muscle growth, using drop sets can be an effective strategy to create the necessary overload to initiate physiological changes in the size and shape of the muscle. The best time to use drop sets is at the end of the workout. People always remember the last part of an experience. If the last thing in a workout is a drop set that leaves a muscle fatigue and pumped, clients will likely end their sessions with a very favorable impression of their time spent training with you.   Due to the high intensity nature of drop sets, make sure to warn clients they may experience soreness and only use drop sets when the next day will be a complete rest day. For best results and to reduce the amount of soreness a client will experience, limit the use of drop sets to only one or two muscles groups (or movement patterns) per workout.   McCall, Pete. “How to Use Drop Sets to Improve Muscle Definition.” ACE Fitness. Ace Fitness, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2016

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