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Whole-Body Oxford Drop Sets

The classic 3x10 set/rep scheme is taken to the next level for maximum muscle-building and fat loss with this 5-day descending pyramid technique.

Whole-Body Oxford Drop Sets

Looks can be deceiving, especially when looking at a training program on paper (or a computer screen in these modern times). A workout can look fairly pedestrian at first glance and then pack a heavy punch in practice.

If you take a peek at the workouts in this program, you’ll see nothing but “3 sets of 10.” But this isn’t some beginner program. It’s a highly intense set of workouts that skimp on rest while helping you pack on muscle, gain strength, and shed bodyfat.

I call it my Oxford Drop Sets technique.

Oxford at a Glance

The Oxford Method is a popular descending pyramid technique that many people use without even knowing it. It's based around 10 reps – a rep count we’ve all employed countless times in the gym. My version of the Oxford Method has the familiar set-rep scheme of 3x10, but you’ve never done it quite like this before. 

Those of you following my #TrainWithJim series on social media, as well here on JimStoppani.com, may recall the DeLorme ascending pyramid technique; it showed up on Day 7 in my Circuit Maximus program. My Whole-Body Oxford Drop Sets start where DeLorme left off, going in the opposite direction – starting out heavy and reducing the weight as you go.

The standard Oxford Descending Pyramid system starts Set #1 with your 10-rep max taken to failure. You then rest a few minutes and reduce the weight just enough to ensure you get another 10 reps. You rest a few more minutes and again reduce the weight just enough to allow you to squeeze out another 10 reps on that exercise. That’s the basic foundation of bodybuilding training – 3 sets of 10 reps.

Sound pretty easy? Don’t get too comfortable. I’m about to shake things up.

Program Summary

In my full-body version of the Oxford technique, you get NO REST between the 3 sets of 10 reps. Well, technically you get the time it takes you to quickly strip off enough weight to complete another 10 reps on the exercise – but that's it in terms of downtime. It's basically one set to failure, plus 2 drops, per exercise.

The intensity will be higher than with the standard Oxford system due to the slashed rest periods, but the added benefit of this (other than more muscle because of the intensity boost) is that it won’t take you as long to get through three sets. Because we’re hitting 10 muscle groups per workout, this time-saver is much needed for those of us who don’t want to spend all day in the gym.

There’s one more catch, though: If you don't reduce the weight enough to complete ALL 10 reps on subsequent drop sets, you’ll need to rest-pause until you complete all reps. To do this, once you hit failure – let's say it was on rep #7 of either of the drop sets – you’ll set the weight down and rest for 10-20 seconds, then continue doing reps until you reach 10 total, in this case 3 reps. This way, you're accountable for collecting all the required work. To get RESULTS, you have to do the work!

You don't have to use my Oxford Drop Sets technique with just full-body training. It can be employed in many workout programs and in a variety of bodypart splits.

In my full-body version, you’ll pick two exercises per muscle group and employ my Oxford Drop Sets technique for each. I’ll show you my five days worth of workouts so you can see how I set up the exercises differently each workout to include other techniques embedded in this one, such as pre-exhaust, supersets, extended sets, and others.

You’ll find all five workouts in the Whole-Body Oxford Drop Sets program below. But first, here's a quick summary of the program:

Whole-Body Oxford Cheat Sheet

Length of Program: 5 days (one whole-body workout per day for five days)

Muscle Groups Trained in Each Workout: 10 (chest, back, legs, shoulders, traps, biceps, triceps, forearms, calves, abs)

Number of Exercises Performed Per Muscle Group Per Workout: 2 (20 exercises total per workout)

Sets & Reps for Each Exercise: 3x10 – performed as one set to failure + two drop sets (as opposed to three straight sets of 10 reps)

Protocol for Each Exercise: Start with your 10-rep max (10RM) and go to failure; without resting, immediately drop the weight significantly and do 10 more reps (drop set #1); drop the weight again with no rest and do 10 more reps (drop set #2). If on either (or both) of the drop sets you aren't able to reach 10 reps initially, rest-pause until you reach 10. Make sure you reach 30 total reps on each exercise.

Rest Time Between Exercises: Rest as long as you need to between exercises. That's up to you. Just remember, the less rest you take, the quicker the workout. ;)

That's it – 3 sets of 10 reps, quick and dirty, leveled up from the traditional Oxford method.

Train hard, everyone!

Whole-Body Oxford Drop Sets Program

(To download a workout to your mobile device, click on the workout title – Workout 1, Workout 2, etc.)

Workout 1

Below are the exercises for the first workout – two exercises per muscle group, 30 total reps per exercise following my 3x10 Oxford method.

Workout 2

You'll do the same exercises in this workout as you did in the previous, only we're swapping the exercise order for each muscle group – incline flyes before bench press for chest, straight-arm pulldowns before lat pulldowns for back, etc. You probably recognize this technique: pre-exhaust. Enjoy the workout!

Workout 3

This workout includes the same exercises, in the same order, as Workout 1. The difference being, you'll be doing the two exercises for each bodypart as compound sets (supersets for the same muscle group). So for example, on chest, you'll do your first set of 10 reps on bench press, then immediately do your first 10 reps on incline dumbbell flyes, then go back to bench press for set #2 for 10 reps, and so on. That’s 60 reps for each muscle group, non-stop! You'll do the same thing for all bodyparts.

Remember, you have to complete all 10 reps on every set. So if you don’t reduce the weight enough on consecutive sets to complete 10 reps, you'll need to finish the reps using rest-pause.

Workout 4

As with the other workouts, choose whichever variations of these exercises you want. I went pretty bare bones in this workout as far as exercise selection goes, but sub in whatever moves you like.

Workout 5

In the final workout of Whole Body Oxford Drop Sets, we focus on single-joint exercises for each muscle group. I'm also using the technique here on unilateral exercises like step-ups, concentration curls, and oblique cable pushdowns. On these exercises, you complete ALL 30 reps for one side before moving to the other side to complete 30 reps.

Download the Workout

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