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Training Intensity Principles: Stripping Method

Alternate Names: Drop sets, descending sets

The stripping method involves reducing the weight you use as you begin to fail at the end of a set, so that you can continue to do more repetitions. When you come to an end of an exercise of a given set with a certain weight, you may or may not be surprised to know that performing additional sets immediately following the initial set is feasible if you reduce the weight. The main benefit of this, is that each time you take a plate off and reduce the poundage to perform additional sets, the muscle(s) which you are working are forced to recruit additional muscle fibers. Similarly to the cheat rep method, the stripping method is best performed at the end of a workout, during your last set. At this time, muscle fiber recruitment will be at its peak. An example of this can be seen with individuals who start a dumbbell curl exercise, and perform it until they have reached temporary muscular failure, they then take another weight off the rack, which they feel they can handle for a few more quality repetitions, and recruit new muscle fibers to achieve temporary muscular failure once again. This is a very effective shocking method.

You can apply the stripping method through one drop in weight per set, or you can do one major set with several drops. Some will complete their final bench press set and continue to remove weight until only the empty bar brings muscular failure.


Barbells - When applying the stripping method with barbells, use small weights. For example, if you are using 225 pounds, use combinations of smaller plates, rather than two 45 pound plates. This way, stripping is performed most easily.

Dumbbells - When applying the stripping method with dumbbells, keep them close by so you can go from set to set quickly.

Do Exercises

Perform the stripping method for: Machine shoulder press, or machine bench press, dumbbell chest press, dumbbell curl, leg extension.

Don't Exercises

Do not perform the stripping method for: Squat, deadlift, or any bodyweight exercises like non weighted crunches, hyperextensions, pushups, etc.

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