Training Systems

Build Mass with Bodyweight Drop Set Workout Routine

In practicing hypertrophy exercises with bodyweight we should apply all possible techniques to progressively put the muscle under tension. Drop set is a training system applied by bodybuilders to enhance muscle growth. A bodyweight drop set incorporates such a technique into a calisthenics exercise routine.

What Is Drop Set Training?

Drop set is an advanced resistance training technique in which you continue a set until you cannot do another repetition, then quickly and without rest reduce the amount of weight and do some more repetitions. Your first part of a drop set is the heaviest set in which you can do less than 10, let’s say 8 repetitions.

For example, a bicep curl drop set with dumbbells would be like this:

  • First segment, 8 repetitions until failure
  • Second segment, drop weights by about 20 percent and do 10-12 repetitions until failure
  • Third segment, drop weights again and do 10-15 repetitions until failure

Most folks do three drops in a drop set.

Bodyweight Drop Set with TRX

Taking the example of TRX bicep curl, do your first bodyweight drop set until failure at 10 repetitions. Then, by changing the angle of the body to earth or making use of the supporting back leg and intelligent weight technique, reduce the amount of resistance by 10 to 30 percent so that you can do 10 to 12 repetitions until failure. Without any rest, reduce the resistance again and do 12 to 15 repetitions.

Benefits of calisthenics drop set

There are almost no rest intervals between drop sets and by using calisthenics training systems such as TRX we can efficiently reduce the amount of resistance on the target muscles at no time.

We reduce the amount of resistance in each set to the extent that we can perform a certain range of repetitions in the next part. Since we don’t use weights, we should only gauge this reduction through experience.

Bodyweight mechanical drop set

Mechanical drop set is a technique used in bodyweight drop set in which by changing the position of the body or angle of the body we can change the amount of resistance.

In doing push up by changing the position of feet in relation to the ground, we can create different levels of resistance at each drop of the bodyweight drop set. We can start with decline push-up with feet at an elevated position. After reaching muscle fatigue put legs on the ground and do more repetition. Finally, we can put knees on the ground or put hands on an elevated position for incline push up and do more repetitions until muscle fatigue.

Subsequently, in bodyweight mechanical drop set with TRX system, we can start with TRX push up at an angle almost parallel to the ground and perform 8 repetitions. Afterwards, quickly change the body angle by moving forwards so that the amount of weight is reduced and perform 10 repetitions until fatigue. Again, move a bit forward to further reduce the amount of weight on the chest muscles and perform 12 repetitions.

Mechanical bodyweight drop set in trx push up
Mechanical dropset with trx

Does Dropset Build Muscle?

The point of dropsetting is to provide extra stimulus to the muscle by extending the time the muscle is under tension. We have two types of muscle fibers, slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers. While we perform straight sets with heavy loads, we are activating fast-twitch muscles and when we train with higher repetitions and medium weights, we are engaging slow-twitch muscle fibers.

In body weight drop set we are activating all muscle fibers which will result in more muscle growth as well as enhancing muscle endurance.

A study on the effect of drop sets on nine untrained volunteers who practiced bicep curl with dumbbells, 2 or 3 days per week and for a period of 8 weeks shows an increase in muscle endurance. This was true even in lower training time than typical recommendations for resistance training.

Dropset vs. Superset

A superset is a combination of two or three different exercises back to back. For example, you start with bodyweight press up and switch to TRX chest press with few seconds to no rest in between.

For more information about types of supperset study, bodyweight Superset with TRX.

In drop set bodyweight workout we reduce the amount of pressure in each drop while performing the same exercise with zero to few seconds of rest in between. In calisthenics dropset we extend our exercise by reducing the tension on the muscle.

A more advanced variation of bodyweight drop set workout is when you progressively reduce the pressure with no pause in between drops while for instance practicing TRX bicep curl. This technique is only recommended to advanced and experienced body weight trainees who gained a good sense of managing tension on the target muscle.

So for example, if you start with a front lateral raise with TRX I and then more to TRX Y raise and finally switch to TRX W raise, this is a bodyweight superset with a combination of three different exercises.

Related, bodyweight hypertrophy workout with TRX.


Bodyweight dropset is a useful technique to stimulate hypertrophy. To incorporate drop set techniques into your body weight routine, start with the hardest mechanical setting of the movement and at each drop switch to a less challenging setting of that movement. Ideally, we plan a certain range of repetition at each drop, but in practice, we may end up accomplishing fewer than that range due to fatigue. Usually practicing two or three drops in a drop set is enough.

Effects of drop sets with resistance training on increases in muscle CSA, strength, and endurance

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