First let's define the growth rep: It is the last hard rep or two at the end of a set. It is these reps that produce muscle growth. In a normal set all the reps up to that point are just a
necessary evil to get through while reaching the all-important growth reps.
A muscle will not grow bigger or stronger unless it is worked at or close to its limit. Overload and overcompensation must take place. But what would happen if instead of only a couple of growth reps per set you had four, five, or more? What if almost every rep in the set were 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, effective ways to train. 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 regularly do triple-drop training seem to be very muscular and cut.
Some readers may be asking, "What is triple-drop training?" This is how it goes: Weight is removed from the barbell or resistance is reduced three or more times during one extended set. This allows you to do many more high-intensity reps than usual. Using the barbell curl as an example, you would load up a bar with a lot of small plates - five and ten pounders; even some two-and-a-half-pound plates. Select a starting weight that allows 5 or 6 hard reps at most. When you reach failure, remove a few plates to lighten the weight so you can continue curling. That is one drop. Continue to curl until you fail again, then remove enough plates to allow you to continue. This is the second drop. Curl to failure again with the new lighter weight. Plates are removed a third time, and you rep out to absolute failure. That is one set of triple drops, which, as you can see, is actually four sets in one.
On exercise machines, you can do the triple drops yourself by quickly changing the pin in the weight stack to a lighter weight. With dumbbell exercises, you can do down-the-rack training. We'll use the dumbbell curl as an example, After a light warm up you might grab a pair of 50-pound dumbbells and manage 6 hard reps. Immediately, with no rest, you replace the 50s on the rack and grab the 40 pounders. Rep out with these and exchange the 40s for the 30 pounders. Again rep out and replace the 30s with the 20 pounders. Go to absolute failure. Only two cycles of this should be needed to fully pump your biceps.
Another great thing about triple-drop training is that you can incorporate it into any other intensity-manipulating programs you may be using. You can do triple drop-ping along with pre-exhausts, supersets, trisets, giant sets, forced reps, negatives, cheating, burns, 21s and concentric holds. Combining triples with any of these is incredibly 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.
For most mortals, triple dropping by itself will be intense enough, thank you. In fact, except for hardy types who have great natural recovery ability and endurance and who are on good diets or are supported by ergogenic aids, most people should just triple-drop training on a limited basis - either for short cycles of four to six weeks (it is superb for precontest training), for just one exercise per muscle group or for just the worst-responding bodyparts. Remember, it's easy to overdo a good thing, so use triple dropping judiciously. The idea is to train hard enough to stimulate muscle growth without unduly taxing your recovery ability. Ease into triple dropping slowly. It would be best to do most of your sets in straight-set fashion and do a triple drop only on the last set of a limited number of exercises. This should suffice for most people.
The question always comes up, how much weight should be reduced each drop? A good rule of thumb is 10 percent, but if you have two training partners to remove the plates and to help you do some semi-forced reps, you night only remove 5 percent or even less. This is excellent when aiming for maximum size and strength.
Ideally, you should only do 4 to 6 reps with each drop. This will give you 16 to 24 reps per triple-drop set. If you can do more reps, the reductions are too great and you're making the weight too light. The exception would be for high-rep leg presses in which you are trying to achieve 50 or 60 reps per set. Then you might go for 10 to 12 reps each drop. Believe me, 1 or 2 sets of triple-dropped leg presses on the 45-degree leg press will work your quads into the ground.
One of the most effective but demanding triple-drop methods is to remove 2 1/2 to 5 percent, enabling only one to 2 (probably forced) reps each drop. This requires two training partners to remove plates and spot you but also to help you do forced reps. Each rep is an all-out effort so almost every rep is a growth rep. Only 2 such sets per bodypart are recommended to avoid overtraining.
So there you have it, one of the most effective ways of training known to humankind. If you feel you are in a rut, try triple-drop training for a few weeks to get a healthy dose of growth reps. This may be just the ticket to a bigger, more muscular physique.