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Oxford Drop Sets Step-by-Step

A quick tutorial on how to perform my unique Oxford 3x10 drop set method to build muscle and torch body fat.

Oxford Drop Sets Step-by-Step


"On paper," my 4-week Oxford Drop Sets program looks pretty straight-forward: four workouts per week, hitting each muscle group twice over seven days (a repeated two-day split), and doing 3 sets of 10 on every exercise.

But in this case, 3x10 doesn't mean traditional straight sets where you're doing a set of 10, resting a minute, a second set of 10, resting a minute, and then one last set of 10. Rather, you're doing the three sets back-to-back-to-back with virtually no rest — and you're able to do this because these are drop sets, where the weight gets lighter on each set of 10.

If you're confused, no problem. Let me break down exactly how it will go. Below is a step-by-step instruction of Oxford Drop Sets for one exercise — and you'll follow this same protocol on every exercise during the four weeks.

How to Do Oxford Drop Sets

What exercise we choose as the example doesn't matter, as the technique is the same for all moves. The only difference will be how you lighten the weight during the three sets. Remember, these are drop sets, where the goal is to keep intensity high by decreasing load as quickly as possible to essentially eliminate rest periods.

Tips for Different Types of Equipment

Equipment matters with Oxford Drop Sets. Dropping weight quickly is easier on a machine or cable exercise than on a barbell or dumbbell move. With a machine or cables, all you have to do is move the pin up the stack to lighten the weight. With dumbbells, you have to grab a lighter a pair off the rack. With a barbell, you have to take weight off of each side of the bar.

I didn't want to confine the whole program to only machine and cable exercises, though, because then I'd be limiting the stimulus on the muscles. The best programs are those that utilize many different exercises and a variety of equipment.

Rest assured, you can still drop weight very quickly with dumbbells and barbells; it just takes a little more thought heading into the set. Here are some tips on how to most efficiently do Oxford Drop Sets with different types of equipment:

  • Dumbbells: If you're at the gym, make sure you're performing your sets close to the dumbbell rack. That way, it will be very quick and easy to rack, say, the 50-pound dumbbells and pick up the 40-pounders, and then rack those and pick up the 25s or 30s. If you're training at home and have a set of adjustable dumbbells, that's even easier.
  • Barbell: Consider how much weight you'll be dropping for each drop set and choose your weight plates accordingly. For example, if you're doing bench press and you plan to drop 20 or 30 pounds per drop set, don't put a 45- and 25-pound plate on each side of the bar. Instead, put a 45, two 10s, and a 5 on each side. That way, you simply get off the bench and strip a 5 and 10 off each side before lying back down and doing another 10 reps. If you're going lighter than that, instead of starting with 135 pounds consisting of one 45-pound plate on each side, put three or four 10s on each side and take one off (per side) each drop set.
  • Smith Machine: Same rules apply as barbells. Smaller plates (5s, 10s, 25s) tend to work better than 45s for stripping off weight. 
  • Cables and Machines: This is pretty easy. Lighten the weight by moving the pin up the rack. Just make sure you're doing it safely. If it takes a few seconds, that's fine.
  • Resistance Bands: This could be the easiest of all. Either switch to a lighter band quickly or stick with the same band by simply stepping closer to the anchor point (which reduces the tension on the band and makes the resistance instantly lighter).

Oxford Drop Sets 3x10 Step-by-Step

Okay, let's get into an example of one exercise. I'll use a barbell move: Barbell Preacher Curl (Day 4 biceps exercise; option of using either an EZ-bar or straight bar). Here's how to do it...

  1. Pick a weight that would normally have you reaching failure at 10 reps (essentially your 10-rep max). Do your best to estimate and choose a challenging weight. Let's say that weight is 75 pounds, and you put three 10-pound plates on each side of an EZ-bar (weight of the bar is roughly 15 pounds), plus collars.
  2. Do 10 reps, which ideally puts you right at your failure point.
  3. Rack the bar and immediately strip one 10 from each side of it, and go to failure with that lighter weight (first drop set).
  4. If failure ends up being 10 reps, you can move on to the second drop set. If you fail before 10 reps, rest 5-15 seconds and continue repping the same weight until you reach 10 reps (this is called rest-pause). If it takes you more than one rest-pause to reach 10 reps, no problem.
  5. Rack the bar and again strip one 10 from each side. Go to failure with the new weight (second drop set). If that ends up being 10 reps, you're done with the exercise. If you fail before 10, rest-pause until you hit 10 reps.
  6. After the 3x10 is complete for the exercise, go straight to the next exercise, and repeat the protocol.

That's it! The Oxford Drop Set protocol is pretty simple — not easy, but simple. ;) But I promise you'll be happy with the results by the end of four weeks.

If you have any questions about how to do it, find me on social media or ask the JYM Army . Good luck!



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