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Can HTMU's Recover During a Drop Set?
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pat
Level 3

Join date: Oct 2002
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 16808

It's been a while since I have posted here, and those who know me know that I have been mired with complications from back surgery that has effected my ability to train and hence I kind of stayed away since I could not participate fully, but that's not what I am talking about here....

So the topic is can the HTMU's recover somewhat during a drop-set. Conventional wisdom and standard physiology would say hell no, but some anecdotal evidence on my part, and previous discussions on the matter lead me to believe that it may be possible.

My personal experiment went like this:
The exercise chosen was the lateral dumbbell raises. I would lay out the dumbbells in order from heaviest I can lift for one or to reps, to about 4 5 - 10 lbs increments down. Each weight increment is taken to absolute failure and switching weights has to be as instant as possible. What I found, is that as I drop down, say about the 3rd increment, I was able to go back up to the weights I had previously failed at with in the set.
Why?
Some arguments have been made that even though brief, the switch out did allow a split second of rest...Perhaps. Or could it be that the HTMU's can actually recover during a set?

Discuss.

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Tiribulus
Level 1

Join date: Aug 2006
Location: Michigan, USA
Posts: 16191

pat wrote:<<< as I drop down, say about the 3rd increment, I was able to go back up to the weights I had previously failed at with in the set.
Why? >>>
I have no idea why you can do that because I sure can't. I also have no real expertise in the cellular level physiology of HTMU's. I know you have me on ignore so you won't be able to see this PAT, but I also think that a weight good for 1-2 at the fresh end of a drop set is not a good way to go. ESPECIALLY with a movement like lateral raises. You are begging to injure your shoulders. I would go 6-10 at least with a small exercise like side raises and maybe even 10-12. Here's a trick I do with that exercise that works really well but is exhausting. My right RC is in passable but always tenuous shape.

This is with a regular set, though you could work it in with drops as well. Sort of an alternating rest pause deal. Once I get to failure on say the 12th or 13th rep. I rest long enough for some of the LA to clear and then start going one side at a time. It's easy to cheat one side at a time on lateral raises too. You can kinda swing into it as you fatigue though with this movement form matters if you're after the lateral head. Once one side is shot I let it hang and go to the other one. By the time I'm done with that side now I can get a few more on the other side until I can't on either side. You could drop the weight and continue, but I usually don't have much left after that.

My shoulders ironically have gotten a LOT stronger through this and other weird techniques, but they will NOT get much bigger. My lateral delts are dense, hard as stone AND strong, but it is not in my genes for them to cap off for me. I really have come to that conclusion. Oh well. Hope your recovery is going well and you persist in my prayers whether you like it or not =]

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pat
Level 3

Join date: Oct 2002
Location: Georgia, USA
Posts: 16808

Tiribulus wrote:
pat wrote:<<< as I drop down, say about the 3rd increment, I was able to go back up to the weights I had previously failed at with in the set.
Why? >>>
I have no idea why you can do that because I sure can't. I also have no real expertise in the cellular level physiology of HTMU's. I know you have me on ignore so you won't be able to see this PAT, but I also think that a weight good for 1-2 at the fresh end of a drop set is not a good way to go. ESPECIALLY with a movement like lateral raises. You are begging to injure your shoulders. I would go 6-10 at least with a small exercise like side raises and maybe even 10-12. Here's a trick I do with that exercise that works really well but is exhausting. My right RC is in passable but always tenuous shape.

This is with a regular set, though you could work it in with drops as well. Sort of an alternating rest pause deal. Once I get to failure on say the 12th or 13th rep. I rest long enough for some of the LA to clear and then start going one side at a time. It's easy to cheat one side at a time on lateral raises too. You can kinda swing into it as you fatigue though with this movement form matters if you're after the lateral head. Once one side is shot I let it hang and go to the other one. By the time I'm done with that side now I can get a few more on the other side until I can't on either side. You could drop the weight and continue, but I usually don't have much left after that.

My shoulders ironically have gotten a LOT stronger through this and other weird techniques, but they will NOT get much bigger. My lateral delts are dense, hard as stone AND strong, but it is not in my genes for them to cap off for me. I really have come to that conclusion. Oh well. Hope your recovery is going well and you persist in my prayers whether you like it or not =]


Well, the theory goes that once you engage a motor unit, it stays engaged until the demand ceases. Further, it goes in a certain order, from low to high threshold. So if you take a medium weight it should engage your low, and somewhat higher threshold MU and progressively move up the MU chain until it hits the highest threshold motor units. Once, they are all engaged they remain engaged until they stop being used, no matter the weight. So if you choose the heaviest weight you can lift, by the end of the first rep if should engage all your MU's from lowest to highest, but honestly may not engage the very highest MU's until the second rep. The body will only use what it has to get the job done.

What I am talking about is the motor units remaining engaged during the set, even though a resistance is used that doesn't require the firing or the HTMU's, but was used previously in the set.
The theory goes that once a motor unit is engaged, it stays engaged until cessation of the exercise. But I am wondering if motor units can recover while an excise is still taking place, at a level where the highest isn't needed to move the weight, but it was used with in the scope of the singular exercise.
Conventional physiology says no, it's not possible. But anecdotally it looks like it may be possible. So I was wondering if other people have experienced or have thoughts on the matter.

It doesn't matter the exercise you choose, it's the neuro-muscular activity I am interested in.

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