Effects of drop sets with resistance training on increases in muscle CSA, strength, and endurance: a pilot study

J Sports Sci. 2018 Mar;36(6):691-696. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2017.1331042. Epub 2017 May 22.


To investigate the effects of a single high-load (80% of one repetition maximum [1RM]) set with additional drop sets descending to a low-load (30% 1RM) without recovery intervals on muscle strength, endurance, and size in untrained young men. Nine untrained young men performed dumbbell curls to concentric failure 2-3 days per week for 8 weeks. Each arm was randomly assigned to one of the following three conditions: 3 sets of high-load (HL, 80% 1RM) resistance exercise, 3 sets of low-load [LL, 30% 1RM] resistance exercise, and a single high-load (SDS) set with additional drop sets descending to a low-load. The mean training time per session, including recovery intervals, was lowest in the SDS condition. Elbow flexor muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) increased similarly in all three conditions. Maximum isometric and 1RM strength of the elbow flexors increased from pre to post only in the HL and SDS conditions. Muscular endurance measured by maximum repetitions at 30% 1RM increased only in the LL and SDS conditions. A SDS resistance training program can simultaneously increase muscle CSA, strength, and endurance in untrained young men, even with lower training time compared to typical resistance exercise protocols using only high- or low-loads.

Keywords: Descending sets; muscle adaptations; strength-endurance continuum; strengthtraining.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Arm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*