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"Working the Rack" for More Muscle Mass

Working the Rack for More Muscle Mass

by: Robbie Durand

In the bodybuilding world, using the principles of drop sets or “running the rack” is a technique for continuing tension being placed on a muscle by using a lower weight once muscle failure has been achieved at a higher weight. It is most often performed on weight machines because reducing the weight quickly is thought by some to be critical, but it can also be performed with dumbbells and other free weights. By stripping the weight down and going lighter, you recruit different muscle fibers, which should help the muscles achieve growth beyond a standard set.

The legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger was known to use drop sets frequently throughout his workout career for packing on muscle mass.

Sample Drop Set Program

Drop-Set

Bodybuilder posing in front of black background
Bodybuilder posing in front of black background

Creatine Combined with Drop Sets Packs on More Mass

Researchers wanted to know if adding some good old fashion creatine to a 12-week drop set protocol would boost muscle mass. Participants were randomized to one of two groups:

Creatine or during 12 weeks of drop-set resistance training (3 days/week; 2 sets of leg press, chest press, hack squat and lat pull-down exercises performed to muscle fatigue at 80% baseline 1-repetition maximum immediately followed by repetitions to muscle fatigue at 30% baseline 1-RM).

At the end of the study, drop-set resistance training improved muscle mass, muscle strength, and muscle endurance. The addition of creatine to drop-set resistance training significantly increased body mass and muscle mass compared to placebo. Creatine enabled males to resistance train at a greater capacity over time compared to males on placebo. The addition of creatine to drop-set resistance training augments the gains in muscle mass and also resulted in decreased muscle tissue breakdown. Males who supplemented with creatine experienced a decrease in urinary excretion of 3-methylhistidine, an indicator of muscle protein catabolism. Creatine supplementation increased muscle mass (2.8 kg or 6.1 pounds to a greater extent than placebo (0.9 kg or 2 lbs. In summary, the addition of creatine to drop-set resistance training leads to superior gains in muscle mass with males on creatine experiencing additional benefits.

Key Points: Adding Creatine to a 12 Week Training Program with Drop Sets led to greater increases in muscle mass and strength. Sarah Johannsmeyera, Darren G. Candowa, , , C. Markus Brahmsa, Deborah Michelb, Gordon A. Zellob. Effect of creatine supplementation and drop-set resistance training in untrained aging adults. Experimental Gerontology

Brose, A., Parise, G., Tarnopolsky, M.A., 2003. Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults. J Gerontol Biol Sci Med Sci. 58, 11-19.

Burke, D.G., Candow, D.G., Chilibeck, P.D., MacNeil, L.G., Roy, B.D., Tarnopolsky, M.A., Ziegenfuss, T., 2008. Effect of creatine supplementation and resistance-exercise training on muscle insulin-like growth factor in young adults. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 18, 389-398.

Candow, D.G., Zello, G.A., Ling, B., Farthing, J.P., Chilibeck, P.D., McLeod, K., Harris, J., Johnson, S., 2014. Comparison of creatine supplementation before versus after supervised resistance training in healthy older adults. Res Sports Med. 22, 61-74.

Chrusch, M.J., Chilibeck, P.D., Chad, K.E., Davison, K.S., Burke, D.G., 2001. Creatine supplementation combined with resistance training in older men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 33, 2111-2117

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