As I went over in my previous post, I have been using drop sets for strength gain. Drop sets are when you build up to a max effort of 2-10 reps, then drop to 90% of that weight and that will be your working weight. These are excellent for strength gains, at least when they’re programed correctly… Programing is just like cooking, it takes preparation and forethought to what the ultimate goal is and I have found an excellent resource in Quick Paleo Meal Prep for this area of my life. The book goes over the specific needs of individuals and how to structure your diet accordingly, I helped co-author this book so I fully support it’s contents. As for drop sets, I’ve learned that the programing for these requires a bit more thought than “JUST DO IT!” so let’s look into the smart way to get you as strong as possible using drop sets.
WHAT WORKS FOR OTHERS
Westside Barbell is a group that I’ve been following for about 2 years now, and aside from producing the strongest powerlifters on the face of the earth, the owner Louie Simmons is a wealth of knowledge about all things liftng. If you have studied Westside’s training at all you know the term “conjugate“, which basically means you’re not lifting exclusively heavy for the sake of lifting heavy, instead you’re training all aspects of the art of lifting heavy. With the conjugate method that Louie teaches you will lift for a max effort on one day and for speed on another day, this is incredibly helpful when you are at a meet or competition and are going through what would be a “grinder” (very slow and painful rep). Instead of just grinding through the rep in hopes of actually completing the lift you have trained to not only lift weights, but to lift them FAST. And along with learning to lift weights fast you have given your mind and muscles a break from the damaging affects of lifting heavy every single day!
So after running myself into the ground for a few weeks with drop sets with a PURE STRENGTH focus I’ve gone till the wheels started coming off and brought back a little common sense. So I will keep using drop sets in my strength program, but there will be designated days for speed training or “dynamic effort days” as Louie calls them to focus on lifting fast and efficient, along with allowing my body to rest the needed amount to continue on the gains train! I will still build up to a heavy double or triple on speed days, but instead of taking it down only 10% I’m going to bring it down 40-50% so that the weight is light enough to move at the right speed but heavy enough to be an actual stimulus. I think this will be a great switch and I recomend it for anyone who’s looking to get strong, and linear programing just isn’t working anymore.
MY TRAINING SPLIT NOW [FREE TEMPLATE]
(Drop Sets will be used every day to figure out the weight for the lifts, and the reps and lifts will vary depending on how you’re feeling that day and what weaknesses you need to work on. This is just a general outline, learn what you need and program that in to win!)
Monday- Squats DYNAMIC
Tuesday- Press HEAVY
Thursday- Deadlift HEAVY
Friday- Bench DYNAMIC
Monday- Squat HEAVY
Tuesday- Press DYNAMIC
Thursday- Deadlift DYNAMIC
Friday- Bench HEAVY
I don’t focus just on heavy lifting in all of my sessions, this is usually just what the first 20 mins looks like. After the strength work with drop sets I will use a crossfit/bodybuilding hybrid style of training to work on weak points and improve muscular endurance. But again you need to design your program for follow one that fits your needs.
If your focus is on strength right now, which it should always be if you’re looking to increase your lifting career, then take a few months to follow this outline. Check out Westside Barbell for ideas on how to use different lifts to fix your weaknesses and get stronger in all areas (not just the bench…). Strength is the key to everything!
Have you ever started a new strength program because you looked at it ahead of time and it was mostly just a max effort everyday that promised to get your lifts up 400% in a month? Yea well this was pretty much my experience with drop sets. I wasn’t thinking ahead at all on this one, kind of like not preparing your food before the week starts and you fly off the rails with your diet, but that’s much easier to remedy with resources like Quick Paleo Meal Prep. That short book will outline every necesary aspect of your diet whether your a strength training athlete or a desk jockey 90% of the day, and I trust it completely. But that story is for a later time, let’s talk about why not to be stupid when programming for yourself.
LEARN FROM MY EXAMPLE PLEASE
This is how I got started on this journey to the level of wrecked that I am right now. I was listening to a Barbell Shrugged Podcast; however, before I go any further you need to know I support these guys completely and it was my own ignorance that did me in, so I was listening to the podcast on how to get stronger and the lessons they’ve learned from an average of 15 years lifting. This was mistake number one when I look back, I was one fifth of their training age and I was not even close to being on par with their numbers in olympic or power lifts so the arrogance with which I listened like I was on their level is astounding. They talked about how they all loved the concept of drop sets, drop sets are when you build up to a 2-10 rep max in a given lift and then drop to 90% of that max and you work with that weight. This is incredibly smart because instead of following numbers you plugged into a spread sheet at the beginning of the month when you were at your peak, you’re working on what your max is THAT DAY and not pushing yourself at the same intensity month after month, which would be unsustainable. But I soon found it’s just as unsustainable to train for PURE STRENGTH EVERY SINGLE DAY. By the second week of my training the wheels were coming off FAST, I was out of energy at the end of the weeks and would not want to live life on the weekends outside of bed. Clearly I was pushing the boundaries of what should be done and should have realized myself for what I was at that point, which is a NOVICE at best when it comes to lifting. I’ve been lifting for around 7 years but that’s nothing compared to the guys I was aspiring to be, so no wonder I was running myself into the ground like a mad man!
Training split went something like this:
Monday- Squat, build to 1-5 RM (rep max) then worked at 90% of that broken into a few sets to total 20 reps (this was the same for the rest of the days)
Tuesday- Overhead Press
Wednesday- Rest (ish)
Saturday- Long and slow cardio, running, biking or hiking with a weighted pack
I’ll post the revised training tomorrow and what I have adapted to ensure longevity with progress that won’t wreck me.
Analyze what you’re doing now in your training for your specific goals, if you feel great and are making progress then continue on! If you usually get 2-3 weeks into a program and need to take a week to a month off then it’s time to come up with something that won’t kill you slowly!