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What Is A Drop Set? A Complete Guide

What Is A Drop Set? A Complete Guide If you’re new to strength training, you may be wondering, “what is a drop set”? This advanced weightlifting technique involves performing a set of exercises with a certain weight and then repeating the exercises with a decreased weight. It can be an effective way to add intensity […]

Published: 4/26/23

What Is A Drop Set? A Complete Guide

If you’re new to strength training, you may be wondering, “what is a drop set”? This advanced weightlifting technique involves performing a set of exercises with a certain weight and then repeating the exercises with a decreased weight. It can be an effective way to add intensity to a workout and increase muscle growth. Understanding what it is and how it can benefit will help you determine if you should consider incorporating it into your routine.

Drop set workout explained

So, what are drop sets, exactly? A drop set is an exercise technique that adds intensity to your workout by forcing your muscles to work harder and longer than with traditional sets. In a drop set, the basic concept is to start with a heavier weight for the first set and then immediately reduce the weight for the next set. This allows you to keep going even after you reach muscle fatigue and will help you build muscle strength faster than traditional workouts.

For example, if you were doing a biceps curl, you would start with the heaviest weight you can handle and do 8-12 reps. Then you would reduce the weight slightly and do another 8-12 reps. You would then reduce the weight again and repeat the process until you could no longer lift the weight. 

The Science Behind Drop Sets and Muscle Hypertrophy

Drop sets are particularly useful for those looking to maximize muscle hypertrophy, or the growth in the size of muscle cells. The principle behind this training intensity technique is known as ‘mechanical tension’ – by placing an external force on your muscles (in this case, the weight), you stimulate an increase in the number and size of your muscle fibers. This is achieved through what’s known as ‘progressive overload’ – by gradually increasing the intensity of your weight training, you are pushing your body to its limits, forcing it to adapt and grow in order to cope with the increased workload.

By performing a mechanical drop set, you create tension in your muscles, forcing them to adapt and grow in muscle size and strength. Research has shown that mechanical tension is one of the primary drivers of muscle hypertrophy, and performing drop sets allows you to push your muscles further than ever before, stimulating maximum growth.

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Benefits of Drop Sets

The main benefit of drop set training is that it allows you to push your muscles to failure while still getting a full range of motion. This means that you can work your muscles harder and get better results in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, drop sets are an effective way to break through plateaus and ensure  you continue to make progress in the gym. 

Drop sets also offer benefits, including:

  • Muscle growth and increased muscle fatigue
  • Muscle endurance
  • Time efficiency
  • Enhance muscle definition
  • Improve metabolism
  • Fits various routines

Drawbacks of Using Drop Sets in Your Workouts

One of the main drawbacks of using drop sets in your workouts is that they can be incredibly taxing on the body. Drop set training is a great way to fatigue your muscles and push them to the limit, but this intensity can also lead to a higher risk of injury if you’re not careful. When performing drop sets, it’s essential to make sure you are using the proper form and not pushing yourself too hard.

Another drawback of using drop sets is that they can be incredibly time-consuming. It takes longer to perform multiple sets with decreasing weights, as opposed to simply doing one set of each exercise. This means that if you are short on time, drop sets may not be the best choice for your workout.

Lastly, some people find that drop sets can be psychologically taxing as well. While they are an effective way to fatigue your muscles, they can also leave you feeling exhausted mentally as you have to push through multiple sets and continually reduce your weight. This can be discouraging for some people who are used to a more straightforward workout routine.

How to Perform Drop Sets

Drop sets can be an excellent way to increase the intensity of your summer workouts, leading to muscle growth and strength. To perform a mechanical drop set, start by selecting a weight that you can do 8-12 reps with. After completing the first set, reduce the weight and continue to do as many reps as you can until muscle failure. Repeat this process until you have completed the desired number of sets.

Examples of Popular Exercises That Can Utilize Drop Sets

  • Bench Press

One of the most popular exercises that can utilize drop sets is the bench press. By performing multiple sets of lower weights but with more reps, you can create the same intensity as a heavier weight set without the risk of injury.

  • Bicep Curl

Another classic exercise that can take advantage of drop sets is the bicep curl. Start off with a heavier weight and perform a few sets before dropping the weight slightly and increasing the number of reps. 

Other exercises that can use a drop set include: 

  • Squats  
  • Deadlifts
  • Triceps dips
  • Lat pull-down
  • Bent-over rows

Drop sets can also be used for exercises that involve more than one muscle group, such as: 

  • Lunges
  • Pull-ups
  • Burpees 

By dropping the weight or reps slightly, you can create an intense workout that will leave your muscles exhausted.


Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Drop Sets

If you’re looking for an effective way to increase the intensity of your workouts and challenge yourself, drop sets are a great option. But if you don’t know how to perform them correctly, you might end up hindering your progress. Here are some of the most common mistakes to avoid when doing a drop set workout:

  • Not reducing weight quickly enough: To get the most out of a drop set, you need to reduce the weight quickly after each set. 
  • Not focusing on the proper form: It’s easy to forget about proper form when you’re fatigued, but it’s important to maintain good technique throughout your drop set workout. Poor form can lead to injuries and can also decrease the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Doing too many drop sets: While drop sets are a great way to increase the intensity of your workouts, it’s important to remember they are an advanced technique and should not be done too often.

Incorporate Drop Sets Into Your Routine

So now that you know what a drop set is and how to avoid making mistakes when doing them, it’s time to give them a try! If you’re looking for more ways to maximize your fitness goals, we’ve got you covered. At Chuze Fitness, we offer fitness classes to help you reach you fitness goals. But what do you do when you are away from our gyms? Explore the new IChuze app for workouts and exercises on the go to get the most out of your routine. If you’re ready to take your workouts to the next level and join a fitness community, find a gym near you!

Reviewed By:

Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.





  1. Kadey, Matthew. “Drop Sets: What They Are and How to Do Them.” Bodybuilding.com, n.d., https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/drop-sets-what-they-are-and-how-to-do-them.html.
  2. Brewster, Jim. “Drop Sets: How to Do Them and Why They Work.” Muscle & Strength, n.d., https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/drop-sets-how-to-do-them-and-why-they-work.


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