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The Resistance-Band Drop-Set Workout

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Marrying resistance bands with drop sets is as natural as pairing caffeine and cardio. To do this classic weight-room intensity technique, you perform an exercise to near failure or failure with one weight, then decrease (“drop”) the weight one or more times, continuing to rep it out to near failure or failure with each drop. The accommodating resistance of the bands and the increased time under tension delivers a potent dose of metabolic stress to drive muscle growth.

For best results, use bands of varying “weight” for your drop sets. But if you only have one band, you can still make it work: Begin farther away from the anchor point to create maximal tension and make it “heavier,” and as you begin to fail, step incrementally closer to the anchor point to decrease the tension and make it “lighter.”

Resistance-Band Drop-Set Workout

For each exercise, you’ll do three drop sets. Begin with your highest-tension band and shoot for eight to 12 reps. When your form begins to deteriorate, “drop” to a lighter band and continue, again using eight to 12 reps as a target. For your last set, use your lightest band and rep it out to absolute failure.

Biceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Overhead Extension 3 8-12, 8-12, failure
Single-Arm Kickback 3 8-12, 8-12, failure (each arm)
Down-and-Out Pressdown 3 8-12, 8-12, failure

Triceps

Exercise Sets Reps
Hammer Curl 3 8-12, 8-12, failure
Spider Curl 3 8-12, 8-12, failure
One-Arm High Curl 3 8-12, 8-12, failure (each arm)

Exercises

Overhead Extension

Resistance-Band Overhead Extension
Photo: Sean Michel

Secure a resistance band to a stable object at about waist height and grasp the band with both hands. Turn your back to the anchor point and raise your arms overhead. Your hands should be behind your head, elbows bent and next to your ears. Keeping your upper arms steady, extend your elbows completely until your arms are straight. Pause briefly, then slowly lower to the start.

Single-Arm Kickback

Resistance-Band Single-Arm Kickback
Photo: Sean Michel

Secure a resistance band to a stable object at about waist height and grasp it with one hand facing the anchor. Keeping your back straight, hinge at your hips and fold forward about 45 degrees. Bend your elbow and bring it up and into your side. Hold it here as you extend your elbow, pressing the band back until your arm is fully extended. Pause briefly, then slowly return to the start. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.

Down-and-Out Press-Down

Photo: Sean Michel

Anchor a resistance band to a point overhead, such as a pull-up bar. Take a shoulder-width inward grip on the band with both hands, leaving a little slack in between. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hinge forward slightly from your hips, bracing your core. Bend your elbows 90 degrees and pin them to your sides, then press the band downward and outward until you reach full extension. Pause briefly, then return slowly to the start.

Hammer Curl

Resistance-Band Hammer Curl
Photo: Sean Michel

Stand on the band with both feet placed about hip-width apart and take a shoulder-width inward-facing grip on the band, arms extended. Bend your elbows and slowly pull the band up toward your shoulders as high as you can. Pause briefly, then slowly lower to the start.

Spider Curl

Resistance-Band Spider Curl
Photo: Sean Michel

Stand with both feet on the band and take a shoulder-width grip on the other end with your palms facing forward. Keeping your back straight, hinge forward from your hips about 45 degrees and extend your arms toward the floor and a little in front of you. Keep your elbows in place as you curl the band toward your forehead. Slowly return to the start.

This move should feel a lot like a preacher curl. To get it right, imagine there’s a pad holding your arms in place as you perform the reps.

One-Arm High Curl

Resistance-Band One-Arm High Curl
Photo: Sean Michel

Anchor a resistance band at about eye level and hold the other end in your right hand. Turn sideways to the anchor point and extend your right arm parallel with the floor at shoulder height, palm facing upward. Step away from the band until it’s taut, then keep your upper arm in place as you bend your elbow and curl the band toward your head. Pause briefly at the top, then return slowly to the start. Complete all reps on one side, then switch.

Photos by Sean Michel / Model: Tiara Hasegawa / Hair & Makeup: Linda Herberger, LAH Salon / Sports Bra: Fleo / Leggings: Onzie / Shoes: Model’s Own

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