Training Ideas for When You’ve Hit That SLUMP [Part 3]

This is part three of series so, hopefully, you know the drill by now:

  • You want to keep pursuing your goals
  • But your training days have felt uninteresting
  • And maybe you should just skip them.

It’s not that your body needs a break. It’s just that you’re bored. Uninspired. Need a little excitement in your life. And you’re looking for something to mix-it-up while still staying on the road to reaching your goals.

I get it.

You can check out part one here for AMRAP workouts and part two here for the 4×10 method and sprint training ideas. For part three I’m going to give you some ideas for using drop sets and pyramid/ladder training to shake things up.


I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes I’m not interested in training any part of my body but one. Like thinking about a full body workout with accessory lifts makes me shudder, but I wouldn’t mind going into the gym and just working my glutes. Or my biceps. Or my back. Whatever.

Drop set training days are great for that. Essentially you pick an exercise and a weight (moderate to heavy) and perform that exercise to failure at that weight. Then you DROP the amount of the weight (say go from 50lbs to 40lbs) and perform the exercise to failure again. You continue dropping weight and working to failure until you get to no weight at all.

Glutes of Granite Drop Set

  • B-Stance Romanian Deadlift to failure

EXAMPLE: A moderate to heave b-stance RDL for me would likely be around 40-50lbs. With a set “to failure” I could probably complete about 15-20 reps. Then I’d switch sides and do the same number followed by a 1-2 minute break. With my second set, I’d drop down to around 30lbs and do it again. My very last set would be no weight at all to finish out the drop set.

Other Exercises That Work Well With Drop Sets

FOR YOUR LEGS: forward or reverse lunges, walking lunges, curtsy lunges, step ups

FOR YOUR GLUTES: glute bridge, hip thrust

FOR YOUR ARMS: bicep curls, hammer curls, tricep extensions, skull crushers

FOR YOUR SHOULDERS: lateral raise, front raise, overhead press

It’s important to note that drop set training will probably make you REALLY SORE over the next two days. Please factor that in when you decide what days to incorporate drop sets into your schedule.

TRAINING IDEA #5: Pyramids and Ladders

Maybe working to failure makes you want to puke in your mouth a little. (I don’t blame you.) The next best thing to frying a muscle by working through drop sets is to set up a pyramid training day.

Pyramid training days have the benefit of a drop set (where you can burn out your muscles hard during each set) and the benefit of an AMRAP or 4×10 style training day (you can work on multiple body parts in one session). With pyramid or ladder training, you pick a top rep — say 12 — and you ladder down from that top rep through the workout. Essentially you’re completing 12 reps, then 10, then 8, then 6, then 4, then 2. In a ladder, you would stop there. With a pyramid, you’d work you’re way back up so that your whole rep scheme would look like 12/10/8/6/4/2/4/6/8/10/12.

Full Body Ladder (15 minutes)

Your rep scheme will be 12/10/8/6/4/2. Complete each set of exercises one right after the other. Once you’ve completed all the exercises on the list you’ve completed one round and can drop to the next rep scheme. Time how long it takes you to complete the ladder and use that as a way to track your progress over time.

You can also, obviously, turn the above workout into a pyramid by going back up the ladder at the end of all of the reps.

BONUS: Complexes

The name of the game with a complex is to not put the weight down. When you decide to work through a complex at the gym, you’re going to choose a weight that matches what you can do for the weakest lift (often upper body) and use that weight for every exercise. Go through the entire set of exercises without putting the bar — or dumbbells — down.

If you need to rest, rest.

Otherwise, use these routines to keep your training days fresh and mix things up in the gym. Have fun!

Want More?

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About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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