If you’re looking to build more muscle, burn more fat and generally get into the best shape of your life then bodyweight training has an awful lot going for it. This is a way to work out that will allow you to train anywhere, to build better ‘strength to weight ratio’ and to increase the challenge as you progress. You don’t need any equipment, you don’t need any instruction… just drop and give me 20!
But that said, there are ways and ways of using bodyweight training and unfortunately a lot of people don’t approach this in the right way.
Because if you compare a bench press to a press up, it is immediately apparent that the former provides a significantly greater challenge. A bench press allows you to lift 50, 100, 150k… whereas a press up means lifting a third of your bodyweight. So what do you do to increase the challenge? You can always perform more repetitions but ultimately this is only going to become a resistance workout rather than helping you to build size and strength. And that’s why mechanical drop sets are so critical…
What is a Mechanical Drop Set?
For those who are not au fait with bodybuilding parlance, a ‘drop set’ basically means a type of workout where you are continuously dropping the amount of weight you’re pushing or pulling against. Each time you max out your strength and can’t perform another repetition, you decrease the weight by moving the pin and that allows you to keep going. This is called going ‘past failure’ because you are continuing to train to the point where your muscles have started to give out and where normally you would be forced to stop.
A mechanical drop set essentially means that you’re doing the same thing. The difference is that this time you’re not moving a pin or changing your dumbbell – because you can’t when you’re just using your muscle mass.
Instead, a mechanical drop set means that you’re changing the exercise to make it harder or easier, while still focussing on the same muscle groups. So for example, you might perform 10 one-handed push-ups and then immediately switch to regular push-ups. This way you have gone ‘past failure’ again and you should feel the burn in your pec muscles. There’s no break in between and this way you can create the maximum number of microtears to really stimulate growth and strength development.
Incorporating These Into Your Training
If you’re used to doing circuits or just doing sets and reps, then this might come as a shock at first. It’s time to stop thinking in terms of ‘3 x 10’ and instead to think in terms of ‘how can I get my body to respond?’. You need to learn to feel when your muscles are aching in the right way and know how far to push them to stimulate growth. Using drop sets of any sort is one of the very best ways to do just that!