Editor's note: Workout at home? Try the Drop 5 home workout split.
I love to design new and interesting lifting approaches. Good ideas come and go, but when a rock solid idea comes my way I rush to the computer to flesh out the program. Drop 5 is one such program.
Last weekend an idea formed in my head. I started thinking about a 3 week muscle building cycle based on micro-periodization. Each week a trainee would increase intensity (weight) while dropping the reps slightly, making sure to maximize each set for more optimal muscle growth.
During week one lifters focus on moderate weight and a great average number of reps. By week three training is heavier with fewer reps per set. Nothing new, right? True, but I hope you find the twist on this style of programming interesting.
Each week you will perform a Drop 5 sequence for the following exercises:
- Bench Press
- Military Press
Each set you perform for these lifts will be performed for as many reps as possible. Don't push each sets to failure, but rather stop when either your form starts to slip, or when you feel like you will be unable to complete the next rep.
The focus of the Drop 5 sets is on progression. You will try to improve your reps each week, eventually adding weight to each set. These small rep and weight increases will add up quickly. You will improve your muscle mass and get stronger.
Here is how the 3 week Drop 5 cycle shakes out for the 4 primary exercises.
- Week 1 - 75% x AMAP, 70% x AMAP, 65% x AMAP, 60% x AMAP
- Week 2 - 80% x AMAP, 75% x AMAP, 70% x AMAP, 65% x AMAP
- Week 3 - 85% x AMAP, 80% x AMAP, 75% x AMAP, 70% x AMAP
*AMAP = as many reps as possible per set.
Starting Weight. When you initially start the Drop 5 program, base percentages upon your current one rep max. Add 5 pounds to the bar when your heaviest set for that week reaches the following number of reps:
- Week 1 - Add 5 pounds the next time you perform this week when you are able to perform 10 reps (or more) on your 75% set.
- Week 2 - Add 5 pounds the next time you perform this week when you are able to perform 8 reps (or more) on your 80% set.
- Week 3 - Add 5 pounds the next time you perform this week when you are able to perform 5 reps (or more) on your 85% set.
How to "Drop 5". After adding weight to your top set, simply "drop 5%" weight for your next set. So your next set would be 5% fewer pounds than your heavy set, your third set 10% lighter, and your final set 15% lighter.
Drop 5 Bench Press Example
Let's say your current bench press max is 200 pounds. Your first 3 week cycle would look like this:
- Week 1 - 150lbs x AMAP, 140lbs x AMAP, 130lbs x AMAP, 120lbs x AMAP
- Week 2 - 160lbs x AMAP, 150lbs x AMAP, 140lbs x AMAP, 130lbs x AMAP
- Week 3 - 170lbs x AMAP, 160lbs x AMAP, 150lbs x AMAP, 140lbs x AMAP
So you hit the gym, and your first 3 benching sessions go as follows:
- Week 1 - 150lbs x 8 reps, 140lbs x 10 reps, 130lbs x 12 reps, 120lbs x 15 reps
- Week 2 - 160lbs x 7 reps, 150lbs x 9 reps, 140lbs x 10 reps, 130lbs x 13 reps
- Week 3 - 170lbs x 6 reps, 160lbs x 7 reps, 150lbs x 9 reps, 140lbs x 11 reps
Week One Assessment. During week one you were unable to perform 10 or more reps with your heaviest set, so you will NOT add weight to this training day during week 4.
Week Two Assessment. During week two you were unable to perform 8 or more reps with your heaviest set, so you will NOT add weight to this training day during week 5.
Week Three Assessment. During week three you WERE able to perform 5 or more reps with your heaviest set, so you WILL add weight to this training day during week 6.
You starting (heavy) sets for your next cycle will be:
- Week 4 - 150lbs x AMAP
- Week 5 - 160lbs x AMAP
- Week 6 - 175lbs x AMAP
Drop 5 Four Day Upper Lower Workout Split
This is a 4 day training program for lifters looking to build muscle. Here is a sample schedule:
- Monday - Lower Body A
- Tuesday - Upper Body A
- Thursday - Lower Body B
- Friday - Upper Body B
|Lower Body A|
|Deadlifts - Drop 5 Cycle||4|
|Seated Calf Raise||4||12-20|
|Upper Body A|
|Bench Press - Drop 5 Cycle||4|
|Upright Rows or Seated Arnold Press||4||AMAP|
|Pull Ups or Inverted Rows||4||8-12|
|Close Grip Bench Press||4||8-12|
|EZ Bar Curls||4||10-12|
|Lower Body B|
|Squats - Drop 5 Cycle||4|
|Stiff Leg Deadlifts||4||6-10|
|Leg Press Calf Raise||4||15-20|
|Upper Body B|
|Military Press - Drop 5 Cycle|
|Incline Dumbbell Bench Press||4||10-12|
|Skullcrushers or Cable Tricep Extensions||4||10-15|
|Seated Alternating Dumbbell Curls||4||10-12|
When should I deload?
Listen to your body. There is no need to randomly deload every 4th week. If you start to feel beat up or fatigued take an off week or deload week after the end of your next 3 week cycle.
Even if you don't feel beat up, consider taking a light week after 9-12 weeks just to do something fun, refresh your motivation and heal up a bit.
Can I swap exercise "X" for exercise "Y"?
Yes, as long as it's a similar exercise variation. For example, you could use dumbbell rows instead or barbell rows, or standing curls instead of seated curls.
Can I add in traps, forearm or whatever work?
You can, but don't go overboard. This program is well rounded as it stands.