Drop Sets and Adjustable Dumbbells: the Perfect Workout Challenge

Lifter using adjustable dumbbells

Adding drop sets into your strength training workouts is a super effective way to totally blast your muscles – but the pause between changing up the weight can mess up the flow (and give you a mini cheat break).  

A quick-changing adjustable dumbbell can fix that.  

REP’s QuickDraw ™ Adjustable Dumbbells are fast and easy to change out the weight. With just a flip of a switch, you can go from 60lbs to 5lbs in seconds (although that’d be one heck of a big drop set). One feature that makes these dumbbells optimal for drop set workouts is that you can switch the weights even without the cradle. Just set the dumbbell down, flip a switch, and drop a plate.  

What are Drop Sets?  

A drop set is a method of lifting whereby you perform a set to failure (meaning you can’t do another rep), and then drop the weight typically by 10-30% and immediately move into another set with no break. Perform that weight to failure, drop the weight by another 10-30%, and repeat again. Because you’re reducing weight, the number of reps may go up each set – but that depends on your level of fatigue.   

The benefit? Research has shown drop sets produce more muscle growth than typical sets. However, they may be more of an advanced technique, because you need to understand how to bring your muscles to failure (what that truly feels like) without sacrificing proper form.  

Incorporating drop sets into your workout can: 

  • Increase muscle hypotrophy  
  • Increase time under tension 
  • Efficiently help you reach failure if you have limited time  
  • Fully burn out your muscles at the end of a workout  

Exercises to Try with Drop Sets 

You can incorporate drop sets into tons of exercises. Here are a few of our favorites with an adjustable dumbbell:  

  • Single-arm rows  
  • Bicep curls  
  • Overhead presses 
  • Lateral raises  

Need help picking the best adjustable dumbbell? Here's what to look for. 

Difference Between a Drop Set and a Superset  

You may also see the term “superset” in workouts. That’s not the same as a drop set. A superset is a great way to save time and add challenge. Instead of doing one exercise at a time to completion before moving on to the next one, a superset stacks one exercise right after the other without a break, often targeting “antagonistic” or opposing muscles (think: quads and hamstrings).   

Try This Leg Workout with Drop Sets  

Use your adjustable dumbbell for this quick and dirty posterior leg workout, courtesy of Colorado-based personal trainer Jeremiah Sanchez:  

Weighted, walking lunges: Perform walking lunges holding heavy weight. When you can’t go further, drop 10-30% and lunge as far as you can with that weight. When you hit a wall, drop another 10-30% and finish it off. To target your posterior chain, take wide steps.  

Straight-leg deadlifts or Romanian deadlifts: Holding dumbbells in each hand, perform straight-leg deadlifts or RDLs, hinging at the hip and keeping the weights close to your legs. Start with a heavy weight for 6-8 reps. Then drop 10-30% and try to do 8-10 reps. Finish those hams with another drop for 12-15 reps.  

Calf raises: Hold dumbbells in each hand and stand on the edge of a step, plyo box, or bench. Starting with heavy weight, do as many calf raises as possible until you can’t raise another calf. Drop some weight and see how many you can get. Repeat a third time – and don’t get mad at us tomorrow when your calves are screaming. Good luck!