The biceps are arguably the most loved muscle group. It is common to hear people skip leg days, but you’ll never hear of anyone missing arm day. Although the biceps curl ranks high on every lifter’s favorite exercise list, only a few have guns worth showing off.
The biceps is a small muscle group, and most lifters rely on curls (an isolation exercise) to add inches to their arms. Nonetheless, only a few succeed.
Usually, exercisers oscillate between doing too little and too much in their arms training regimen. While the first technique lacks training intensity to spark new muscle tissue growth, the latter leads to overtraining. Furthermore, both these techniques lead to a training plateau.
This is where the drop sets come in. Drop sets help increase your training intensity by adding more sets and reps to your training regimen, helping ignite new muscle growth and break through plateaus. Drop sets boost muscle growth by significantly enhancing your target muscle’s time under tension.
To build biceps that surpass people’s imagination, you must put in the work that most people cannot fathom. The bicep curl drop set is a step in the right direction.
The drop set is an advanced training technique that is not for the faint of heart. “Muscle-ripping pump” is a popular term in training jargon. Most lifters throw it around like it’s nobody’s business. The truth is that most trainers have never experienced a “muscle-ripping pump,” unless that is, they try the drop set.
In this article, we go over everything you need to learn about the biceps curl drop set to build bigger and stronger pythons, including the definition, step-by-step instructions, sample biceps drop set workout, its benefits, and tips to make the most of them.
What is a Drop Set?
A drop set is an advanced resistance training technique that helps spark hypertrophy by shocking your muscles through an uptick in training intensity. In a drop set, you perform an exercise with an appropriate weight for the desired number of repetitions, then lighten the load by 10–30% and perform another set to failure without pausing for rest between sets.
The number of reps you will perform will depend on your training objectives. Research has shown that performing 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps of an exercise with an appropriate weight is optimal for building muscle mass. On the other hand, 3-5 sets of 1-5 reps are ideal for building strength. 
Training for muscle failure in two non-stop sets fills your muscles with blood and lactic acid, which stretches the fascia and supplies your muscle fibers with the required nutrients for muscle growth.
You could also do a double drop set to take your muscle pumps to the next level. A double drop set involves dropping weights twice in the same set. To do a double drop set, complete a set to failure, lighten the load by 10-30%, and do another set; complete the round by doing another set after reducing the load by 10-30%.
Here is a sample barbell biceps curl double drop set using 95 pounds:
- Set 1: 12 reps [95 pounds]
- Set 2: Failure (8-12 reps) [85 pounds]
- Set 3: Failure (8-12 reps) [65 pounds]
While performing a drop set, you must ensure that you’re following a picture-perfect form. Using momentum or a sleazy form increases your risk of injury as your muscles are already fatigued. You must stop your set as soon as you notice your form slipping.
How to Perform a Biceps Curl Drop Set
The drop set technique can be used for any biceps curl exercise. For the sake of this article, we’ll consider the dumbbell biceps curl. Drop sets require more logistical planning than traditional dumbbell curl sets. Hence, you must ensure that you already have everything you need by your side before you begin the drop set. Stopping to look for weights drops your training intensity and will hamper your muscle-building potential.
Use the following pointers to incorporate the biceps curl into your training schedule:
Choose The Weight
Most lifters are confused about the weights they should be lifting on the biceps curl drop set. While some people bite off more than they can chew, exposing themselves to an injury, others undersell themselves, leaving gains on the table.
As a rule of thumb, you should start your drop set with a weight that allows you to complete 8-12 reps of an exercise with the perfect form. Then, you must not lighten the load by more than 30% for the drop set to ensure optimal small-twitch muscle fiber stimulation. You must choose a weight that allows you to complete 8-12 reps in the drop sets.
For example, if you perform the first set of a dumbbell bicep curl with 45-pound dumbbells, you can only drop the weight to 30 pounds for the drop set. You can then use 20-pound dumbbells for the double-drop set.
Decreasing the weight in small increments (5-10%) can limit the number of repetitions you can perform. You must, however, ensure that you fail in the 8-12 rep range to induce hypertrophy and improve your muscle endurance.
Many lifters make the mistake of starting the bicep curl drop set without the proper engagement. While doing the dumbbell bicep curl drop set, you should have the 2-3 sets of dumbbells you will use around you and in your reach before starting the exercise.
Looking for dumbbells for your drop sets in the middle of your set will hamper your training intensity. If you wait too long between sets, you’ll end up recruiting your fast-twitch muscle fibers instead of the slow-twitch fibers, beating the purpose of this advanced training technique.
To make the most of drop sets, you must program them into your workouts strategically. Plan your workouts a week in advance so that you don’t end up using drop sets more than once in a workout and twice a week. Using this training technique too frequently can result in overtraining, increasing your risk of injury and leading you to a plateau.
The ‘advanced’ in advance resistance training technique exists for a reason. Beginners must resist the temptation of using drop sets in their workouts. Furthermore, you should only use it in exercises you have mastered. Experimenting with drop sets in a lift you are still learning increases your risk of injury.
Sample Bicep Curl Drop Set Workout
Given below is a biceps workout that involves a superset of dumbbell biceps curls:
- Barbell Curl: 3 x 8-12
- 21s: 3 sets
- Preacher Curl: 3 x 8-12
- Reverse-Grip Cable Curl: 3 x 8-12
- Dumbbell Biceps Curl (double drop sets): 3 x 8-12
In this workout, we have programmed the drop sets at the end to end the workout on a high. Start with the heaviest dumbbells and do as many reps as possible. Without resting between sets, switch to lighter dumbbells and curl to failure. Lighten the weights again, and work to failure without stopping for rest.
Benefits of Drop Set
Adding the drop set advanced training technique to your exercise regimen entails the following advantages:
Helps Build Muscle Mass
A 2018 study found that drop sets delivered more muscle gains by stimulating slow-twitch muscle fiber growth than the conventional sets during a six-week resistance training protocol. 
Drop sets are an incredibly versatile training principle. You could use them in any workout and for any exercise. You can do a drop set at the start of a workout to pre-exhaust your muscles, in the middle of the workout, or at the end to finish your training session with a mind-numbing pump.
Drop sets fill your muscles with blood and lactic acid, which stretches the fascia around the muscle and delivers the required nutrients to the muscle tissue for growth.
Improves Muscle Endurance
Our muscles consist of two types of muscle fibers — slow and fast-twitch. Although conventional strength training exercises are great for engaging fast-twitch muscle fibers, they do little to nothing for the slow-twitch fibers. The slow-twitch muscle fibers are endurance-based, meaning they require a greater time under tension than the fast-twitch fibers to fire up, and this is exactly what the drop sets deliver.
A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that a single set of drop set can lead to better muscle gains than three sets of a conventional resistance training exercise. 
Drop sets are a great way to get a lot of work done in a short period. Folks that have hit a plateau and need to up their training volume but cannot afford to spend another 30-45 minutes in the gym should turn to drop sets.
Most drop sets take 15-20 seconds to complete. Lifters that generally do 15 sets in a workout can boost their training volume by 20% just by doing three drop sets of an exercise. Not to mention the insane training intensity that can be achieved using this training principle.
Bicep Curl Drop Set Tips
Here are some bicep curl drop set tips to get the best bang for your buck:
Prefer doing drop sets in isolation exercises like the biceps curl that focus on a single muscle group. Since compound exercises have multiple moving parts, the risk of injury is significantly higher while doing drop sets.
Lifters tend to compromise on their form on compound lifts like the squat when fatigue starts to set in, increasing their odds of injury. It is easier to bail on a bicep curl drop set rep than to get out of a squat mid-rep.
You should not do drop sets for more than one exercise in a workout, as it can cause muscle overexertion, increasing your risk of injury. Furthermore, avoid doing more than double drop sets at a time.
Notably, ‘run the rack’ is another advanced training technique that is growing in popularity and involves lightening the load until you lift the lightest weight on the rack. It is a drop set variation that should be reserved for advanced athletes. The high volume and intensity of multiple drop sets can result in a lousy form and an unprecedented strain on your muscles, multiplying your injury odds.
Since drop sets are so effective in delivering a muscle pump, many lifters tend to overdo them, increasing overtraining risk. Overtraining affects your central nervous system, and depending on your genetics and recovery program, it might take you months to come out of this phase.
You must limit drop set use to one exercise per workout. Furthermore, avoid performing drop sets more than twice weekly to allow your muscle enough time to recover from your high-intensity workouts.
Are Bicep Curl Drop Sets Safe?
Drop sets are an advanced resistance training technique and should not be used by newbies and rookie lifters. As you start incorporating drop sets into your training regimen, it should be done under an expert’s supervision to minimize the risk of injury.
You must then choose an appropriate weight and exercise for the drop set. Use a weight you can control for 8-12 reps per set and an exercise you have mastered. Doing drop sets on an unfamiliar exercise puts you in a delicate position, and a slight misstep can lead to an injury.
The bicep curl drop set is an advanced resistance training technique that will push your limits and challenge your muscles like never before. It will increase your training intensity by increasing the time under tension, helping you avoid and break through a training plateau.
Rookie lifters should start with the conventional drop sets, whereas more advanced lifters can utilize the double drop sets to fill their guns with blood and lactic acid. Finally, you must strategically program the drop sets into your biceps training routine. Doing too much too soon can lead to overtraining, which can stall your growth.
- Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Dec 4;16(24):4897. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16244897. PMID: 31817252; PMCID: PMC6950543.
- Fink J, Schoenfeld BJ, Kikuchi N, Nakazato K. Effects of drop set resistance training on acute stress indicators and long-term muscle hypertrophy and strength. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018 May;58(5):597-605. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.06838-4. Epub 2017 Apr 26. PMID: 28474868.
- Fink, Julius & Schoenfeld, Brad & Kikuchi, Naoki & Nakazato, Koichi. (2017). Effects of drop set resistance training on acute stress indicators and long-term muscle hypertrophy and strength. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness. 58. 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.06838-4.
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