Triple Drop training, also known as stripping, railroading, descending reps, down the rack, step bombing, etc., allows you to get many more growth reps per set. Why is this so?
First, let's define "growth reps." A muscle will not grow bigger or stronger unless it's worked near it's worked near its limit, unless overload and overcompensation take place. The last one or two hard reps at the end of a set are the ones that produce muscle growth, hence the name growth reps. All the other reps in a normal set up to that point are just a necessary evil to get to the all important growth reps.
But what would happen if instead of only one or two growth reps per set you had four, five or more growth reps? Of if almost every rep in the set was a growth rep? Would you gain faster. Is the Pope Catholic?
Okay, sounds great but how do you achieve more growth reps per set. The answer lies in triple drop training, one of the most intense but effective ways to train and the method that allows for the most growth reps per set.
Training with high intensity develops more massive and stronger muscles, better muscle quality and greater vascularity, definition and muscularity. No doubt about it, people who do triple drop training regularly seem to be very muscular and cut most of the time.
Some readers may be asking, "What is triple drop training?" In triple drop training, weight is removed from the barbell or reduced three or more times, allowing you to extend the set and do many more high intensity reps than in a normal set.
Using the barbell curl as an example, you would load up a barbell with a lot of small plates, five and ten pounders, and even some 2.5 pound plates. After a warmup, select a starting weight that allows at most five or six hard reps. When you fail, you remove a few plates to lighten the weight so you can continue on curling. That is one drop. Continue until you fail again. Then remove some more plates to allow you to continue. This is the second drop. Continue to curl to failure again with the new lighter weight. A third time plates are removed and you rep out to failure. That is one set of triple drop, which as you can see is actually four sets in one.
On exercise machines like leg extensions, leg curls, standing calf raises. lat pulldowns, triceps pressdowns, machine presses, cable curls, cable rows, and cable upright rows, you can do the triple drops simply by changing the pin in the weight stack to a lighter weight.
When doing dumbbell exercises, you can do "down the rack" training. Using the dumbbell curl as an example, after a light warmup you might grab a pair of 50's and manage six hard reps. Immediately, with no rest you replace the 50's to the rack and grab the 40's. Rep out with these and exchange the 40's for 30's. Again rep out and replace the 30's with 20's. Rep out to full failure. Only two cycles of such triple drops is needed to fully pump your biceps.
Let's look at the advantages of triple drop training.
1) The intensity is extremely high, so necessary to stimulate muscle growth. Because the intensity is so high, less sets are needed for a good workout, so you spend far less time in the gym, an important consideration for people with a busy schedule.
2) You can do extended sets and high reps, with more growth reps, by yourself or with a training partner.
3) Doing triple drop training, you get the benefits of both heavy and light training. You handle very heavy and light weights in the same set. This stimulates all three muscle cell types within the muscle.
4) You build size, strength, vascularity and muscularity at the same time.
5) You get a maximum pump and stimulation of fatigue products.
Another great thing about triple drop training is you can incorporate other intensity manipulating principles along with it. You do triple dropping with pre-exhaust, super-sets, tri-sets, giant sets, forced reps, negatives, cheating, burns, 21's, and concentric holds. Doing any of these in intense and gives a mind blowing pump. Of course, with every increase in intensity there should be a corresponding decrease in the amount of sets you do.
For most mortals, triple dropping by itself will be intense enough, thank you. In fact, except for the hearty types who have great natural recovery ability and endurance and who are on good diets and/or are supported by ergogenic aids, most people should use triple drop training on a limited basis; either for short cycles of 4 to 6 weeks, or for just one exercise per muscle group, or even for just the worst responding muscle groups.
Remember, it is easy to overdo a good thing, so go easy on these. The idea is to train hard enough to stimulate muscle growth without unduly taxing your recovery ability. Use triple dropping judiciously.
You should ease into triple dropping slowly. You probably would be best to perform most of your sets in straight set fashion and on the last set of a limited number of exercises you could perform a triple drop. So the last set is really four sets in one. This should suffice for most people.
The question always comes up . . . how much weight should be reduced each drop? I think a good rule of thumb is 10 percent for most of the time, but if you have two training partners to remove the plates for you and to help you do some semi-forced reps, you might only remove 5 percent or even less. This is an excellent method when seeking size and strength.
Ideally, you should only be able to do 4 to 6 reps with each drop. If you can do more reps, the reductions are too great and you're making the weight too light. The exception might be on high rep leg work or calf work where you are trying to make 50 or 60 reps in a set. There you might go for 10 to 12 reps each drop. Very intense training here.
One of the most effective but demanding ways to perform triple dropping is to only remove 2.5 to 5 percent each drop so you are getting only 1 to 2 hard reps each drop. Each rep is almost an all-out effort so be prepared. Use a rack with safety catchers on some lifts if you're training alone. Only two triple drop sets per bodypart are recommended here.