How to Use Drop Sets in Calisthenics

In Uncategorized by Matt

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Drop-sets are a very common training technique, mainly used for hypertrophy. The way drop-sets work in the traditional weight lifting world is by starting with a heavyweight load and once failure is reached, you immediately reduce the weight down to 20-30% and continue with the set until you reach failure again. This technique is more for people that are more advanced and want to break any plateaus but can also be used by beginners and intermediates. 

How To Replicate The Same Technique in Calisthenics

In calisthenics we can easily replicate the exact same method by modifying the progressions of the exercise. Considering that we don’t work with weights in calisthenics, the only way we can make an exercise progressively harder or easier is by changing the progression. Lets take a push up as an example. You are somewhat intermediate and can do 10 to 15 push ups. If you wanted to reduce the weight from your own body-weight a simple trick would be to just drop down to a knee push up or do an incline push ups. This variations would make the exercise 30-40% easier.

Start With The Right Progression

If you want to maximize muscle growth with drop-sets finding the right progression is key. Let’s assume someone has been training for the last 5 years and can do 70 push ups in a row with ease, that would not be a good exercise to start with, since there is not enough resistance. The rep range for maximal muscle growth should be anywhere from 6 to 12 repetitions. Instead of starting with push ups a smarter option would be decline clap push ups. So by doing this exercise muscle failure will be reached with less reps due to the fact that the exercise has become harder. Now we can use a drop-set (normal decline push ups) to increase time under tension and maximize our results even more. 

Why Are Drop-sets Great For Building Muscle?

The intention of using drop-sets is to shock the muscles by putting more stress on them for an extended period of time. The reason why drops-sets are so effective is because you end up activating all the muscle fibers. The fast twitch and slow twitch fibers. When performing the heavy movements you mostly activate the fast fibers and with the lighter movements the slow fibers. 

Another Drop-set Method In Calisthenics

In some rare cases making the exercise easier without any equipment might not be possible. The only exercises i can think of, are muscle ups and pull ups. In this case what you can do is get a resistance band and once you cannot perform any more repetitions with your own body-weight, you can place your feet in the resistance band and that will also reduce the weight (depending on the band) and help you continue. But if you are more advanced you wont be starting from normal pull ups or muscle ups, instead this will be the second exercise that you will be using as a drop-set.


Drop-sets are a great way to increase muscle mass and to make your workouts more intense. You just need to break down all the progressions of an exercise. The more progressions the better. Start with the progression that is challenging enough for you and move on to the next one! Make sure to apply this tips in your workouts to get even better results!