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Drop sets have been around since 1947 and the idea of training past the point of failure by using a lighter weight was started by Henry Atkins. Countless bodybuilders since then have used the drop set method of adding muscle and recruiting the maximum amount of muscle fibers while doing a dynamic movement.
There are many different variations when doing drop sets like "stripping sets", which is what Arnold, calls drop sets. Drop sets need to be performed correctly in order to get the benefit and that means reaching the point of failure where you cannot do another rep even if your life depended on it.
Only then would you pick up a lighter barbell or dumbbell to add another set without stopping. It is the 20% or 30% reduction in the weight that you are lifting which allows you to go past that point of failure where you would normally rest and recuperate from that set.
Drop sets are brutal as you pick up another weight which is lighter and without taking a rest continue by adding another 6 or 8 reps. The idea when doing drop sets is to enable the recruitment of the maximum amount of muscle fibers that you can get out of doing some specific movement.
The experts seem to agree that training with drop sets seems to be able to reach deep down and use all the muscle fibers in a muscle group to perform the movement. There are a number of different ways that this drop set can be done, whether training on machines or with free weights.
For example when working on a machine one can go "up the rack" by lightening the load as you reach the point of failure. The same can be done with dumbbells and is called "running the rack" or "down the rack".
When working with barbells you would then be doing "strip sets"’ where the barbell has small plates on the end which are easy to reduce the weight quickly.
There tight drop sets and wide drop sets each describe the amount of weight reduction in each set. When a tight drop set is done the difference in weight is very small but when a wide drop set is done then the weight difference between start and finish is much bigger.
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