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Rest Pause Drop Sets Training Method
DAD "Dynamically Adapted Drop" Sets

By Wesley James

For more than fifty years, roughly the period body building has existed as we know it, we have accepted certain precepts as fundamental. Like the fundamentals in other fields these concepts take on a sacrosanct quality, beyond challenge. Such dogma protects and helps perpetuate errors that may have been made many years earlier. This is the birth of the error of our ways. It is my hope that by holding some of these core concepts up to the light we may find truth and, perhaps, innovation.

How was it determined that only the reps one successfully completes are beneficial to growth? What if it is the effort that produces the impetus for growth rather than the completion of the movement? After all, the contraction of a muscle fiber is all or nothing. Does the contraction have to produce movement to produce an Adaptive Stress response? The fact that isometric contraction can yield strength increases suggests not. We do have reason to believe, however, that the negative contraction is helpful to producing hypertrophy. With that in mind, what would happen if you loaded a weight greater than your 1 Rep Max, gave it all you had and allowed a sensitive, aware training partner or trainer to assist you just enough to allow you to complete the movement. You might then be able to perform the negative yourself or your partner might provide just enough assistance to allow you to perform the negative. Continued in this way, a single set could, potentially, temporarily exhaust every fiber in a muscle to the psycho-physiological limit. (It would also be tough on your training partner.) A set of this type would be called a "Dynamically Adapted Drop" set, DAD for short. Such a set is an awesome challenge to perform. It taxes both your strength reserves and your psyche to their limit.

A single set performed at this level of intensity would clearly place incredible demands on the body's recovery capacity both locally and systemically. An entire workout of this intensity would almost surely be counter-productive. One set, for one muscle could prove exactly the kind of stimulation necessary to jar you out of a rut. One every two weeks could rapidly remedy a lagging body part.

With the recognition that individual cases don't make scientific fact. Let me give you an example of just how effective this technique can be. Some twenty five years ago, I had a client who had just gone through a full hip reconstruction following a serious fall. She was a woman in her early sixties but had, in her youth, been a competitive figure skater. The loss of mobility following the surgery, she was confined to a wheelchair though she could ambulate on crutches, was having significant psychological ramifications. Still, her resolve was strong. She appealed to be given the most demanding rehabilitative regime she could tolerate but advised that she would only be able to come for training once a week. After consultation with her doctor we implemented a program that began somewhat lighter but built up fairly quickly to the use of DAD sets. We had used DAD sets occasionally before but only infrequently in the six months since I'd devised the concept.

The woman was magnificent. She showed up religiously for her sessions and gave every rep her all. We were frankly stunned by her progress. Not only did the strength of the hip improve dramatically but the flexibility and rotation as well. A short one month later she could walk. After six weeks, she gave up her crutches completely. After three months, she was ready to run 5000 Meters with her Road Runners group. I only saw her once thereafter but she informed me that except for an occasional day of discomfort related to the weather (such pain is usually in the bone not the muscle) her hip is in better shape than before the reconstruction. Measurements of her strength indicated that she has retained a considerable portion of her strength gain and range of motion.

A rehabilitation of this magnitude, in a woman of her age, would typically take as long as two years. Even then a 75% recovery would be considered excellent. A complete recovery of strength and range is nearly unprecedented.

Such a regime is not within the capability of every individual. It is probably not within the capability of most body builders. The responsibility of the trainer/partner is especially demanding in this type of training. It takes experience, awareness, sensitivity and physical strength to train someone in this way. It should not be attempted with dangerous movements such as bench press or preacher curls until a considerable body of experience is developed. Barbell curls might be a good first choice. Under no circumstance should you perform DAD sets for your legs unless you can rest completely for a considerable period of time afterward. If you could completely deplete your leg muscles, it would only take 30 seconds to recover 10% of your leg strength but it could take 5 minutes to recover half your strength. Fifty percent leg strength recovery could leave you dangerously wobbly.

So we see that the assumption that you must use a weight that allows you to complete a movement is in error. You don't need to be able to complete either the concentric or eccentric movement unassisted. There is a great deal more that you should know about DAD sets. It will wait for further articles. For now, its only important that we see the error of our ways.

Copyright © 1996 Physique Tools and Wesley James

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