Why Drop Sets Are The Best Way to Form Lean Muscle

strength training

We know you’re busy babe and your time is so precious, so Karena and I are here to give you all the tools you need to get the best workout results fast. One of our favorite ways to do that: strength training workouts with drop sets!

By now you’ve probably heard me and Karena rave about them during your Studio Tone It Up workouts ~ we’re a little obsessed! That’s because drops sets are one of the most efficient ways to form lean muscle.

The concept is simple: Start out with a set of heavy weights and, as you start to fatigue and your form suffers, drop down to a set of lighter weights in order to complete your reps. Using this high-intensity training method, you essentially fatigue one group of muscle fibers with your heavy weights, then by going lighter, you recruit a SECOND group of muscle fibers that weren’t workin’ for you earlier. The more muscle fibers you recruit, the more beautiful lean muscle your body is able to form. 

Drop sets also get your heart pumping like crazy so you burn more energy during your strength sesh. Even better: Aim to swap your weights quickly! The less time you take while changing out weights the better in order to keep the intensity up.

OK now let’s drop it like it’s hot! 🔥💪

Pick Your Perfect Drop Set

There are tons of ways to incorporate drop sets into your Studio Tone It Up strength workouts. You can go waaayy lighter or keep ‘em relatively heavy. Here are a few guidelines for when to use each technique ~ just always remember to listen to your body and do what works best for you! 

Wide Drop Sets — This is when you drop down significantly in weight. You’re guaranteed to crush these and should feel strong enough to do a higher number of reps. These work great for large muscle group exercises like squats and bent over rows. For instance, if you’re squatting with 20 lb dumbbells, you can drop down to 12 lbs (a 40% drop). Or drop the weights entirely and complete your set with just your bodyweight. Finishing strong is all that matters!

Tight Drop Sets — This is when you decrease by just a small amount. These are tough, but so are you girl! We like to use them for smaller muscle group exercises like bicep curls — for example, going from 12 lbs to 10 lbs (a ~15% drop).

Our Fave Strength Workouts for Drop Sets

Head to Studio Tone It Up to put those new moves into practice! These three routines are our favorites for getting strong with drop sets.

lean muscle

Bikini Arm Tone

Strengthen every inch of your upper bod with this beach routine from Karena. Keep two sets of dumbbells close by and drop down whenever you need to in order to maintain good form!


30 Rep Challenge

Test your stamina and strength with this total body burner! There are 30 reps per move, and we know you got this! Opt for drop sets to complete your reps.

 Beautiful Biceps With Kat

 When those beautiful biceps start to shake, quickly swap your dumbbells and finish strong!

Want more amazing workouts?! We’ve got hundreds waiting just for you in your Studio Tone It Up app! Download it HERE. Can’t wait to see you in class!


  1. Do ‘drop sets’ work the same if we do them in reverse? Because I usually start light and increase the weight little by little..
    Like for upper body I usually complete my 1st set at 10 lbs, then 2nd sets 12.5 and last sets I do 15 lbs.
    I’ve been doing this for a little while but usually super tired & still hard to do the last sets with the heaviest weight… thinking maybe I should start with heavier..?

    1. hey girl !
      i used to do the same – the difference between a drop set and a traditional pyramid set is that you greatly fatigue your muscles and nervous system before you reach your heaviest weight. Drop sets are way more ideal in creative progressive overload and as you become more tired, the weights become lighter which compensates for that fatigue and uses more/different muscle fibres. :)

    2. Hi babe! The method you’re doing now is effective at building strength too! By progressively increasing the resistance you’re still challenging your muscles to get stronger with every rep! And yes, the warm-up is so important. So keep that warm-up set light or bodyweight only if you need to. If you find yourself plateauing after several weeks of gradually increasing weight, definitely try drop sets and keep us posted on your progress girl! You can always mix up your training methods to see what works best for you! xxo

  2. I also like to start with a light weight first as a “warm up” set for the muscle, then move on to the heavier weights. Maybe then just add one more set of each to the workout?

    1. Yolly! See my response to Tania above! A warm up set should be just that – a warm up! It shouldn’t be worked into your set. :)

    2. Yes, the warm-up is so important! You can keep that warm-up set light or bodyweight only if you need to. If you want to count the first lightest set at a “warm up,” by all means add that extra set!

  3. This was actually super helpful!! Thank you!💓 as a first time mom, 4 months pp, I’m finding it harder to get through all the reps at one high weight because it’s been a while since I was in good shape. I’m going to try drop sets. :)

  4. if i do drop set, do i need to repeat that exercise again? for EX: bicep curls 30 reps, do i need to do another set?.

    1. No need for another set! The beauty of drop sets is being able to switch out your weight mid-set. So If you have a set of 30 reps and you feel your form getting compromised with 10 reps to go, drop down in weight and finish those 10 reps with lighter weight. That’s your drop set! xxo

  5. I didn’t know it was a technique. I’m new to TIU and have been doing it because I am fatigued but want to finish. Now I can feel good about it. 😊

Leave a Reply