From time to time, you may need to build muscle mass. 'Bulking up' can be a little frowned. Yet, the cross sectional size of your muscle fibres does contribute to strength. The thicker your muscle fibres are, the stronger you are more likely to be. Not the only factor, although one of them. Building muscle when first starting strength training can prepare you for the later demands of a program. If you want to move up a weight class in Jiu Jitsu, adding muscle is one way to do this. Although, what's the best way to do this? Should you be using drop sets, or another method? Let's discuss.
Drop sets, also referred to as Breakdown sets, are when you perform an exercise to failure, drop to a lower weight and repeat. You may repeat this several times. For example, you do a dumbbell curl with 25lb to failure. Then 20lb to failure. Then 15lb etc.
It is like Dramatic Training Principle that Alistair Overeem claims to be part of his muscles gains. Read into that what you will...
Second, why am I compelled to talk about them?
Before we get to what the research tells us, drop sets are one of the typical off the shelf workout routines you see. Whether in a mainstream fitness magazine, a body building forum or just via word of mouth. It also 'feels' like it should work to build muscle. So I think its important to know what the research tells, not just follow a popular trend.
Third, what does the research tell us?
One study measured the effects of breakdown set resistance training on muscular performance and body composition. They wanted to know if 'drop sets' were more effective at building muscle or muscular endurance. Two groups performed different forms of drops sets. A control performed performed one set to failure of 8 to 12 reps. Each group trained twice per week for 12 weeks. Each group performed a full body workout for each session. E.g. chest press, lat pull down, leg extension, etc.
They found no significant difference between the groups. Drop sets to failure or simple one set to failure showed no significant difference in improving muscular mass or endurance. As stated in the article this matches findings from previous research.
Fourth, why I think you should avoid drop sets?
Drop sets may build muscle and build muscular endurance. Yet, a simple one set of 8 to 12 reps to failure has similar results.
Drops sets use a much higher volume. Training to failure from one set is going to hard enough on your body. It will make you sore and can impact your Jiu Jitsu training. Sometimes this is needed. Although you want to limit this as much as possible. Adding more volume is going to make it harder to receiver. Make it harder to train Jiu Jitsu the next day. It doesn't improve muscle mass or endurance gains. So why bother.
Keep it simple and click below to learn how to build this into your own routine.