Dropsets are an effective way to burn out a muscle. The problem most guys run into, however, is dropping the weight too much and making the set easy. If you reduce the load so much that you get 20 reps, you’re not training heavy enough to build muscle.

Luckily, decreasing load isn’t the only way to do dropsets. You can use your body’s natural mechanical advantages to determine the intensity of a set. For instance, when training shoulders, you could start with a barbell overhead press and then “drop” to a neutral-grip dumbbell shoulder press. Moving your elbows in closer to your body puts you in a stronger position to press from, and although you’re fatigued, you’ll be able to continue working your shoulders hard. Another option is to move from dumbbell and cable exercises to body-weight or machine lifts. Different implements create changes in leverage that allow you to keep the set going.


Select your first exercise and set a target range of 6–8 reps. As quickly as you can, move to your second exercise and use a weight that you could normally get 10 reps with. Because you’re fatigued, you’ll only be able to manage 4–6 reps. If you choose to do a second dropset (a third exercise), go on to something easier that will allow you another 4–6 reps. See below for examples

Sample mechanical-advantage dropsets for body parts

Barbell overhead press, drop to neutral grip dumbbell press, drop to neutral grip push press

Bench press, drop to neutral-grip dumbbell bench press, drop to pushup

Bentover barbell row, drop to seated cable row with V-bar, drop to underhand-grip inverted row

1) Deadlift, drop to RDL, drop to back- extension 2) Squat, drop to dumbbell lunge, drop to sled drag