Whenever a new approach to lifting is revealed, everyone seems eager to see if it’ll work or if it’s just another failed experiment. Luckily, today we’re looking at a system that has been shown to be effective, since it’s built on knowledge and previous experience – the DROP 5 system. It’s based on micro-periodization which means that every week, you’d increase the weight and you’d drop the reps just a bit, making the most of every set to pack on more muscle on your frame. In the first week, you will encounter moderate weight and a high number of reps, but by the third week, there will be a significant reduction in reps while your weight is upped. Sounds like a classic routine, right? Nope.
For this system, we are going to take four exercises – the squat, deadlift, bench press and the military press. Each of them will be performed for as long as you can handle it, but not to muscle failure. Instead, stop doing reps when your form begins to ruin or if you think one more rep will be too much to handle. The DROP 5 system emphasizes progression, which means that every single rep will be made harder from week to week. Your average lifted weight will go up, along with your strength and muscle mass.
How to Determine How Much to Lift
Here is how the four exercises work in a DROP 5 system.
- WEEK 1: 75%, 70%, 65% and 60%.
- Week 2: 80%, 75%, 70% and 65%.
- Week 3: 85%, 80%, 75% and 70%.
All of these numbers represent the percentage of your one rep max in respective exercises. Here’s how it works:
- In the first week, if you can lift 10 or more reps on the 75% set, add 5 pounds of weight.
- In the second week, if you can lift 8 or more reps on the 80% set, add 5 pounds of weight.
- In the third week, if you can lift 5 or more reps on your 85% set, add 5 pounds of weight.
When you’ve added weight to your top set, just drop 5 percent of weight for the next one. This means that while your first set is at full power, your second is 5% lighter, and the third is 10% lighter, with your final set being 15% lighter than your first one. Let’s see how this works in practice.
If you have a 300 pounds bench press max, your first 21 day cycle would have the following weight parameters:
- WEEK 1: 225lbs, 210lbs, 195lbs, 180lbs.
- WEEK 2: 240lbs, 225lbs, 210lbs, 195lbs.
- WEEK 3: 255lbs, 240lbs, 225lbs, 210lbs.
You do every single set with as many reps as you can until you start slipping. Let’s say that during the first week, you didn’t lift 10 or more reps on your 225lbs set. Also, in the second week, you didn’t do 8 or more reps on the 240lbs set, so there will be no changes there either. However, on the third set, let’s say you were able to lift 5 or more reps on your 255lbs set, which means that this training day should be strengthened for the sixth week, when it’s supposed to be trained next. For the next cycle, you will start at 225lbs for week 4, 240lbs for week 5 and instead of 255lbs, you will start with 260lbs for week 6.
Upper-Lower Workout Split Based in DROP 5
This workout should take place during four days of the week. On Monday and Tuesday, you will work on your lower and upper body respectively, as will you on Thursday and Friday. Let’s look at the system.
MONDAY – Lower Body
- 4 sets of deadlifts with a DROP 5 cycle.
- 4 sets of leg presses with 15-20 reps each.
- 4 sets of leg curls with 12-15 reps each.
- 4 sets of seated calf raises with 12-20 reps each.
- 4 sets of planks for 60 seconds each.
TUESDAY – Upper Body
- 4 sets of bench presses with a DROP 5 cycle.
- 4 sets of upright rows or seated Arnold presses, with as many reps as you can muster.
- 4 sets of pull ups or inverted rows with 8-12 reps each.
- 4 sets of close grip bench presses with 8-12 reps each.
- 4 sets of EZ bar curls with 10-12 reps each.
THURSDAY – Lower Body
- 4 sets of squats with a DROP 5 cycle.
- 4 sets of leg extensions with 12-15 reps each.
- 4 sets of stiff leg deadlifts with 6-10 reps each.
- 4 sets of leg press calf raises with 15-20 reps each.
- 4 sets of cable crunches with 15-20 reps each.
FRIDAY – Upper Body
- 4 sets of military presses with a DROP 5 cycle.
- 4 sets of barbell rows with 8-12 reps each.
- 4 sets of incline dumbbell bench presses with 10-12 reps each.
- 4 sets of skullcrushers or cable triceps extensions with 10-15 reps each.
- 4 sets of seated alternating dumbbell curls with 10-12 reps each.
There is no reason to overload your body. Every 4th week you should automatically deload, but if you’re not feeling too bad, keep going. If, however, you are feeling exhausted before the three weeks are done, take an off week after your next 3 week cycle. Also, you will need to take a light week after your 9th to 12th week to boost your morale, heal your body and have some fun. You’ll need this week.
You can also swap exercises as long as they’re interchangeable – barbell and dumbbell rows, standing and seated curls and so on. Also, you can put in some traps, forearm training or practically anything else, but don’t overdo it. This is a really well rounded program that doesn’t need a lot of improvements or tweaks, just stick with it and soon enough you will see results.