Drop sets: what are they and does your fitness app track them?

The Drop Set is a weight lifting technique designed to help weightlifters increase muscular size and endurance. The idea behind this technique is for weightlifters to perform an exercise until muscle failure, then drop the weight by 10% to 20% in order to perform more repetitions.


Henry Atkins is considered the father of drop sets. Apparently, he discovered this training method back in 1947. Henry, who was the editor for Body Culture magazine, originally called it the “multi-poundage system.” Since then, Atkins’ technique has undergone many different names: drop sets, strip sets, descending sets, plate stripping and running the rack.

The drop set technique really gained widespread attention when the most popular bodybuilder of all-time Arnold Schwarzenegger made them a part of his routines. Arnold loved to apply this technique to his biceps workouts.


In addition to muscular size and endurance, drop sets can help you bust through your personal plateaus. Because you are continuing with the same movement, but at a lighter weight, your muscles are continuing to work and strengthen. Eventually, the will be conditioned enough to push beyond previous plateaus and take you to all-new levels. Another benefit of drop sets is that they confuse the muscles. They not only force muscles to adapt, but after you drop the weight, the movement will recruit different fibers than the previous set. Ultimately, this keeps you progressing toward your overall fitness goals.

Plan Ahead

Like most workout techniques, drop sets require you to plan ahead. Not only will you need to have your workout program designed and ready to execute, but you will also need to know which exercises that you are going to perform drop sets with and how much weight you will drop down.


There are many variations of the drop set, which makes them useful and popular with weightlifters of all skill levels and goals. The following are some common drop set variations:

Running the Rack – this method is based on performing an exercise via dumbbells. After doing the first set, you will decrease the weight to the next dumbbells. Continue this process until you have used all of the dumbbells or until the weight is too light. For example, if you are doing dumbbell curls at 30 pounds then you will drop down to 25 pounds, then 20 pounds, then 15 pounds, and so on down until there are no dumbbells left.

Stripping Plates – although this method can take longer, due to safely removing plates, it’s just as effective as any other variation. However, make sure to safely secure the plates on the barbell before performing the next set. It’s recommended to have a workout partner when stripping plates off barbells that way you don’t take up too much time between sets.

De-Stacking – this method is performed on exercise machines. It’s the easiest of the three listed methods because it just involves you removing and replacing the pin to a lower weight. For the most part, you won’t even have to get up from the machine.


The biggest concern with drop sets is that you can easily overtrain your body and suffer the consequences like sickness or injury. This technique is not designed to be used with every exercise or set that you do. It’s best to limit drop sets to one exercise per major muscle group. This will ensure that you are still getting the benefits, but not risking overtraining and injury.

Does Your App Track Drop Sets?

If your fitness tracking app doesn’t let you create or track drop sets in your workouts, then delete that app immediately and download GrowBIG today. This advanced fitness tracker allows users to create drop sets in an efficient and easy manner. Additionally, you can adjust the number of pounds to decrease the reps by and how many times that you plan on going to failure.

Where most apps fail to allow users full customization and personalization, GrowBIG excels. In fact, the drop set feature is just one of many fantastic tools that this flexible platform provides users with.

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