Down the Rack


Down the rack training, sometimes called "Drop Sets," is an advanced workout system. It's not recommended for beginners. Beginners should first establish a fitness base. See Beginners' Training, month 1, here.


Want to zero-in on a lagging body part or region? Then you may want to try a high-intensity workout that was sometimes practiced by the late, great Steve Reeves.

Generally, I don't practice what most people call "high intensity interval training," or HIIT. At the same time, I believe in mixing things up, trying different workout programs and styles. We all have different preferences. Try it and judge for yourself. Reeves was certainly no slouch.

A Down the Rack example

Let's say you want to focus on your shoulders, and you are able to complete in good form, a maximum effort of pressing overhead two 60-pound dumbbells for between 8 and 12 reps.

So you begin by pressing the 60-pounders and finish the set when you cannot do anther rep in good style. In other words, you would have to cheat the weights up by push-pressing them, using leg drive.

Rest 30 seconds and drop the weight 10 pounds to the 50s and do as many reps as you can in good form.

Rest 30 seconds and drop the weight again by 10 pounds.

Repeat until you've completed 6 sets with 30 seconds rest between each set. By the final set you'll be using 10-pound dumbbells, if you began with 60s. And your shoulders will be screaming!

(If you find it easy to get 12 reps on any set, use the same weight on the following set.)

Rest up to 5 minutes before moving on to your next body part.

Younger trainees who are in good shape may want to pick one exercise for each body region, following the same 6 set, down the rack pattern. But this is high intensity work, and seniors may want to use a more conventional and less intense routine to round out the rest of their workout.

For exercises where much heavier weights are normally used, such as squats and bench pressing, make 15- or 20-pound reductions for each set.


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