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How to Use Drop Sets to Upgrade Your Strength Training Program

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Want to switch up your strength training program? Give your plan more focus by adding drop sets. Here's how they work: You do a strength exercise using moderate or heavy weight until you can't manage another rep, then quickly lower the weight and do the same exercise to failure.

"This taxes your muscle fibers more than a typical to-failure set, so your body needs to work harder than usual to repair them, which is how you build muscle—and get a bigger afterburn," says Chris-Tye Walker, a trainer at Barry's Bootcamp in Los Angeles. (Plus, it'll help you get that post-workout endorphin rush that sometimes eludes strength training sessions.) Two of his simple go-tos: heavy squats into lighter ones (or squat jumps with no weight) and heavy chest presses into lighter ones or push-ups.

Another way to shake things up is with supersets, in which you perform two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. The key is to pair exercises that work different muscles and vary movement patterns so one group recovers while the other does reps. "For example, try an upper-body exercise [like a sit-up with a ball toss] with a lower-body move like a squat," says Wes Showalter, a strength and conditioning specialist in Chicago. "You'll be able to bring the same intensity, if not more, to each exercise without taking away from the other." (Try this heavy lifting workout for women that includes supersets or learn more about how to incorporate supersets into your workout correctly.)

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