Machine-Based Drop Set Routine

Woman Leg Press

Recently, my wife had heart surgery and as part of her rehab, completed a 6-week cardio program. In order to continue exercising, we joined a local Y (I have always worked out at home). In this article, Machine-Based Drop Set Routine, I detail the routine I use based on easy access to the machines. Let’s check it out!

Why Am I Using Only Machines? 

First of all, we only go twice a week, and I’m only training legs once a week, due to medical issues. Therefore, I don’t do the “Leg Day” listed below, but I do the other two days. As far as the machines, while the Y does have a nice “hardcore” area (free weights), it’s nearly impossible to get in there and work out. So, I use machines for the specific purpose of doing drop sets.

What do I do for my legs? For Workout Day # 3, I train in my home gym and do the following:

  1. Squats
  2. Bench Presses
  3. Top Deadlifts
  4. Side Laterals
  5. Close-Grip Bench Presses
  6. Reverse Close Grip Bent Rows

I do this as a circuit with no rest, and I do one heavy set (after warm-ups) of each exercise for 8-12 reps, or to failure. 

The Machine-Based Drop Set Routine

Here’s the routine: 

Machine-Based Drop Set Routine – Day # 1


Treadmill warm-up x 5-10 minutes, easy resistance.


Leg Press

Warm-up 40% 1RM

2 sets x 15 reps


Working Set

85% 1RM x to failure

Drop 2 plates x to failure

Drop 1 plate x to failure

Drop 1 plate x to failure

Optional – one more drop set


Leg Curl Machine

80% 1RM

1 set x 12 reps


Calf Raises

70% 1RM

1 set x 15-20 reps


Ab Machine

60-70% 1RM

2 sets x 12 reps

Machine-Based Drop Set Routine – Day # 2


Treadmill warm-up x 5-10 minutes, easy resistance.


Machine Chest Press

Same as Leg Press


Shoulder Press

Same as Leg Press working sets, but only 3 drops


Triceps Dip Machine

Same as Leg Press working sets, but only 3 drops


Ab Machine

60% 1RM

2 sets x 12-15 reps

Machine-Based Drop Set Routine – Day # 3


Treadmill warm-up 5-10 minutes, easy resistance


Seated Row Machine

Same as Leg Press


Lat Pulldowns

Same as Leg Press working sets


Biceps Curl Machine

Same as Leg Press working sets but only 3 drop sets


Ab Machine

50% 1RM

2 sets x to failure

Drop Set Routine Performance Notes

You can change the days to whatever works with your schedule. Try to allow one rest day in between your workout days. This routine assumes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as workout days. 


Recovery is key. By training for only 3 days, you have 4 full recovery days. However, take an extra recovery day if needed. 


Make sure you lift the weight under control, from start to finish. Don’t let momentum do the work. Emphasize the negative part of the rep. Take 2-3 seconds to lift the weight. Take 4-6 seconds to return to the start position. For general fitness goals, do not train to failure. Still, the last 1-2 reps should be difficult. 


If size and strength are your goal, train to failure. Then you can add a static hold about ⅓ of the way during the negative phase of the rep. 


For fitness goals, rest 60-120 seconds between exercises. During the drops, the only rest is the time it takes to change the pin. This should only be a few seconds. For size and strength, up the intensity by resting only as long as it takes to get to the next machine. This should be quick. In both cases, don’t be lazy by dragging out the time. 


Do this workout for 4 weeks. It’s meant to ramp up intensity, not necessarily be done permanently. If size and strength are your goals, returning to a free weight program based on progressive overload is best. That doesn’t mean you can’t use some intensity techniques in your training. 

Supplements/Nutrition Suggestions

I suggest consuming 50% of your daily carbohydrates in the hours around your workout. I also suggest taking in at least 1g of protein, making sure you’re getting protein with your carbs. Next, use a good pre-workout. Of course, has plenty to choose from, including high-stim, medium-stim, and stim-free choices. Don’t forget creatine and a good protein powder. There’s just one thing left to do – stop by and stock up!


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