One of the most important aspects of successful training is knowing
how and when to change your training routines. While I am in the
gym on a daily basis I cannot help but notice some of the same
people continuing to do some of the same routines for month after
month, even year after year. The body adapts very quickly to
adversity, so in order to make gains a person working out has to
continually make changes in their exercise regiment. You have to
do this both in your cardio workout as well as your workout. The
important message is that you have to keep your body guessing.
I personally try to change my routine every four to six weeks.
Sometimes that change can be a dramatic change or something as
subtle as doing the same exercises but changing the rep scheme from
10 to 12 to 15 reps. Currently, I have been training some of my
clients and also myself doing what most people would call drop
sets. Of all the routines that I have attempted, drop sets seems
to be one of the hardest of the exercise programs. The drop sets,
when done correctly can actually challenge your body more than most
To give you an example, I will try to explain what I am currently
doing in the gym and how I have been incorporating the drop sets
into my program. On Tuesday I train chest and biceps. I begin the
chest workout with the Cybex incline machine and load the machine
to what I could normally do three sets of ten repetitions. The key to
loading any exercise piece of equipment is to put plates on the machine
or bar so you can drop plates off quickly. For example, if I normally
use two 45ís on each side of the Cybex incline machine I would instead
put one 45, one 25, and two 10ís on each side.
After completing ten reps my work out partner will quickly strip a ten
off each side enabling me to do another set of ten. Then after that set
my work out partner strips another ten off and I quickly do another set
of ten. In other words the set actually becomes three sets.
My work out partner and I move to cable flyes for the chest. We
usually do three sets of ten, we drop the pin on each stack 10 pounds
for the drop set. After the cable flyes we move to the Cybex chest
machine and do the very same thing.
After chest, we move to biceps because our triceps have already
received a strenuous workout assisting the chest and shoulder muscles.
The biceps are fresh so its time to hit them. We usually start on
the Cybex curling machine, which is a pin loaded machine. I normally
put 110 pounds on the Cybex machine. During the second and third set
of the drop sets my partner will lower the pin as I continue to do
10 reps for each of those sets. We will then move to barbell curls
and follow the same sequence. Usually we try to finish the biceps
by running down the rack with hammer curls using the dumbbells.
You can follow the same type of program for all body parts not only
chest and biceps, but also back, triceps, shoulders, and legs. The
key to success in doing drop sets is having either a workout partner
or trainer that can quickly remove the plates from the machine or
bar keeping the time between sets as short as possible. You can do
this yourself, but it is not as effective as having someone work
with you. The machines that contain stacks can be changed by just
pulling and replacing the pin. Changing the pin may easily be
done by one individual.
As you look at your current training routine, I would strongly
suggest giving drop sets a try. There has been a lot of recent
research showing that drop sets can increase an individualís
production of growth hormone during the workout. Done properly
the drop set routine can be challenging both anaerobically and
aerobically. In other words, not only will your muscles be pumped
to their max, but also your lungs will be gasping for air.