From supersets to max-effort lifts to sets to fatigue, there are plenty of muscle-building tactics at your disposal in every workout. But one of the most underrated styles of training is the dropset.
What’s a dropset? It’s a set that starts with a certain level of challenge, either because you’re using a heavy weight or because you’re using a tempo or technique that pushes you to your limit. Then, after you’ve done a certain amount of reps at that weight, tempo, or technique, you “drop” to a lighter weight or an easier technique to finish out your set. By dropping to something a bit lighter, you’re able to create a bit more metabolic stress on your muscles, spurring further growth.
This is a great and versatile training technique, and here’s the best part: It works terrifically for home workouts. Sure, you could do pushups to fatigue, but after months of doing that in quarantine-life, it’s going to get boring, right? But imagine doing, say, clapping pushups or archer pushups first, then “dropping” into a set of standard pushups. You’ll take each set to the limit more quickly, challenge your body in new ways, and have more fun, too. (A bonus: You can often do this with lighter weights or bodyweight, especially if you use dropsets built around technique.)
You’ll get acclimated to the dropset during this month’s workout, which mixes light dumbbells with bodyweight to create a challenge you can take on anywhere, whether you’re in the gym, or you’re training at home. You’ll get to explore dropsets in this workout, too, playing with a resistance-based dropset, a technique dropset, and a tempo dropset, before finishing with a quick arm-pumping superset.
(Don’t have dumbbells for this? No problem. Grab a backpack and fill it with books; you can use that and still get a solid workout. Your game plan is right here.)
Directions: Do this workout three to four times a week, resting one day between each session. On days you don’t do this workout, aim to take a 20-minute run.
Paused Reps Goblet Squat Dropset
Grab a heavy kettlebell (or a backpack) and hold it at your chest, core tight. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder-width. Bend at the knees and push your butt back, lowering into a squat. Pause when your thighs are parallel with the ground; hold for 3 seconds. Stand back up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 8.
After your 8th rep, do 8 standard goblet squats; don’t pause at the bottom on these reps. That’s 1 set; do 3 sets. Rest 90 seconds between each set.
Row to Prone Cobra Dropset
Hold a pair of dumbbells or two water jugs at your sides, core tight. Push your butt back and hinge your torso forward until your torso is nearly parallel with the ground; let your arms hang naturally. Row the dumbbells to your rib cage then lower; do 10 reps.
Immediately put the dumbbells down. Lie on your stomach, legs straight, hands at your sides. Tighten your core. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms off the ground, using your mid- and upper-back muscles to drive them upwards. Pause for 2 seconds at the top. Return to the ground. That’s 1 rep; do 10. Do 3 sets.
Archer Pushup to Pushup Dropset
This one is tough. Get in pushup position, shift your hands slightly wider than normal, and turn your fingers outwards. Tighten your abs and glutes. Keeping your right arm straight, bend your left elbow, lowering your torso down toward the left side, bringing your chest an inch from the ground. Pause, then push back up. That’s 1 rep. Do 8 reps to the left side, then do 8 reps to the right side.
Immediately shift your hands into standard pushup position. Do 10 pushups. Do 3 sets like this.
Arm Superset Finisher
Finish with some arm work. Grab a pair of dumbbells or a pair of gallon water jugs or backpacks. Do 10 biceps curls. Immediately put the weights down, get in pushup position, hands directly under your shoulders. Keeping your elbows close to your body, do 10 close-grip pushups. That’s 1 set. Without resting, do 3 sets.