Double Down Training: Back-Off Set Muscle Building

Steve Shaw
Written By: Steve Shaw
May 8th, 2014
Updated: December 6th, 2017
45.8K Reads
This upper/lower split allows you to maximize your bodybuilding efforts by pushing for progressive overload using auto-regulation and a myriad of rep ranges and weights.
Workout Summary

Workout Description

When it comes to training, I believe you should attack a body part with your heaviest sets first. Energy and focus will be high, and as a result you'll be able to maximize your form and performance on the big lifts.

When training for strictly hypertrophy (muscle growth), I like to follow up my heavy work with back-off sets. I simply rest, drop the weight a bit, and do as many reps as possible. In general I perform 2 back-off sets per exercise.

Double down training is based upon this simple, but effective approach. Major muscle groups are attacked with 2 heavy sets, followed by 2 back-off sets. Minor muscle groups are challenged with one relatively heavier sets, and then 2 back-off sets.

This program is a 4 day per week, upper lower split. Here is a sample schedule:

  • Day 1 - Back & Legs A
  • Day 2 - Chest, Shoulders & Arms A
  • Day 3 - Off
  • Day 4 - Back & Legs B
  • Day 5 - Chest, Shoulders & Arms B
  • Day 6 - Off
  • Day 7 - Off

You can also utilize this plan in an every other day manner:

  • Day 1 - Back & Legs A
  • Day 2 - Off
  • Day 3 - Chest, Shoulders & Arms A
  • Day 4 -  Off
  • Day 5 - Back & Legs B
  • Day 6 - Off
  • Day 7 - Chest, Shoulders & Arms B
  • Day 8 - Off
  • Day 9 - Back & Legs A
  • Day 10 - Off
  • Day 11 - Chest, Shoulders & Arms A
  • Day 12 - Off
  • Day 13 - Back & Legs B
  • Day 14 - Off
  • Day 15 - Chest, Shoulders & Arms B
  • Day 16 - Off

Major bodypart training

Major bodyparts in the context of this training system include:

  • Quads
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Shoulders

For each of these bodyparts, you will start off with a 4 set protocol and later finish with a 3 set protocol. The last 2 sets for each exercise are 2 back-off sets.

4 set protocol. 4 set protocols work like this:

  • Sets 1&2 - Heavy sets, use the same weight for both sets. Add 5 pounds to the bar when you are able to perform at least 7 sets for your heavy sets.
  • Set 3 - Drop the weight by about 10% and perform as many reps as possible.
  • Set 4 - Drop the weight by an additional 10% and perform as many reps as possible.

3 set protocols are performed in the same manner, except that you utilize only one heavy set. When you are able to perform the stated rep goal for these sets, bump your working weight 5 pounds.

Minor bodypart training

Minor bodypart training follows a 3 set protocol per exercise. It is performed in the same manner. Please note that for some of the exercises you will be performing at least 9 reps for your first set before adding weight.

Double Down Workout

Workout A
Back & Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Squats 2 Goal 7
Squats - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Squats - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Bent Over Rows 2 Goal 7
Bent Over Row - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Bent Over Row - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts 1 Goal 7
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Lat Pull Down 1 Goal 9
Lat Pull Down - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Lat Pull Down - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Standing Calf Raise 1 Goal 9
Standing Calf Raise - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Standing Calf Raise - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Planks 3 60 seconds
Workout B
Back & Legs
Exercise Sets Reps
Rack Deadlift - Just below knee cap 2 Goal 7
Rack Deadlift - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Rack Deadlift - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Leg Press 2 Goal 7
Leg Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Leg Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Close Grip Lat Pull Down 1 Goal 9
Close Grip Lat Pull Down - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Close Grip Lat Pull Down - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Leg Curls 1 Goal 9
Leg Curls - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Leg Curls - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Seated Calf Raise 1 Goal 9
Seated Calf Raise - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Seated Calf Raise - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Cable Crunch 1 Goal 9
Cable Crunch - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Cable Crunch - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Workout A
Chest, Shoulders & Arms
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 2 Goal 7
Bench Press - Drop 10% weight  1 AMAP
Bench Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Arnold Press 2 Goal 9
Arnold Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Arnold Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Pec Dec 1 Goal 11
Pec Dec - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Pec Dec - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Rear Delt Flyes 1 Goal 11
Rear Delt Flyes - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Rear Delt Flyes - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Rope Tricep Extensions 1 Goal 9
Rope Tricep Extensions - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Rope Tricep Extensions - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Dumbbell Curls 1 Goal 9
Dumbbell Curls - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Dumbbell Curls - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Workout B
Chest, Shoulders & Arms
Exercise Sets Reps
Military Press 2 Goal 7
Military Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Military Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 2 Goal 9
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Side Laterals 1 Goal 11
Side Laterals - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Side Laterals - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Machine Chest Press 1 Goal 9
Machine Chest Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Machine Chest Press - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Skullcrushers 1 Goal 9
Skullcrushers - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
Skullcrushers - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
EZ Bar Curls 1 Goal 9
EZ Bar Curls - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
EZ Bar Curls - Drop 10% weight 1 AMAP
13 Comments
abi
Posted on: Mon, 10/26/2015 - 14:00

how long does the program run for and do you suggest switching some exercises if we think something is lacking

Derick
Posted on: Sat, 04/04/2015 - 08:53

can i do close grip pull ups instead of v bar lat pull downs i just dont have a machine to do that

Jim
Posted on: Fri, 03/06/2015 - 18:40

I have hit some plateaus in my squats and my military press.Would this routine help?

Miguel
Posted on: Wed, 06/25/2014 - 17:39

Hi Steve!

I'm going to start this routine by tomorrow, do you recommend switch the Rack Deadlift for the standard deadlift? Cause there is no rack in my gym :( so I was thinking if the switch would be good.

Thanks in advance :)

eddie
Posted on: Mon, 06/23/2014 - 21:57

hi steve, what can i replace machine chest press with and what can i replace rope tricep extensions with? this sounds like an awesome workout plan and cant wait to give it a try thanks steve!!

Jaden
Posted on: Mon, 05/19/2014 - 15:48

I am in off season conditioning for lacrosse, I am running pretty actively but like most sports, off season is when I am trying to bulk up. Would you recommend this program for anyone attempting to make gains? I just finished my first week of this doing your first suggested two day split and loved it.

Abraham
Posted on: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 01:05

Rest between sets? Thanks Steve

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Steven
Posted on: Mon, 05/12/2014 - 16:22

Keep rest natural. 1-3 minutes between sets, depending on how you feel.

Nathan Nelson
Posted on: Sat, 05/10/2014 - 04:57

Im really looking forward to giving double down training a go, what would you recommend the rest time to be between the last 2 sets of AMAP?

yahya
Posted on: Fri, 05/09/2014 - 05:28

hi what u mean by goal 7 ? 4 reps in first set and 3 in second or 7 reps each set?

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Steven
Posted on: Fri, 05/09/2014 - 08:35

Your goal is to reach 7 or more reps per set. When you do, you add weight the next time you perform that exercise.

Mahmoud
Posted on: Fri, 05/09/2014 - 04:02

Hi Steve, i am having an ectomorph built with some lifting experience in the past, now it's been 3 months doing full body workout 3 days per weak, the last month has been HLM, is it good time to switch to this workout? can I do this workout 3 days a week only? I like having 2 days off and i feel good power after 2 days rest.
Thanks Steve for great tips and workouts!

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Steven
Posted on: Fri, 05/09/2014 - 08:39

If your current workout is serving you well, I wouldn't switch. If you switch to this workout, yes you can do it 3 days per week. Just keep alternating between A/B workouts.