The following is a guest post by Mike Volkmar.

Im a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Peddie School (A Private Boarding School in Hightstown, NJ).  I coach and program workouts for 15 sports and over 400 athletes. In doing so, there are simply times within a workout I have to challenge the athletes (or myself) with grueling workouts. It keeps them engaged and adds intensity to any workout.

I’ve been programming more 747 sets for the kids and they really love them! So much so that I had kids coming up to me asking about “those 747 sets” their teammates were telling them about. The the original 747 set protocol and Nick’s 747 hybrids are what inspired the following PSD training protocols that I’m sharing with you here.

What is a PSD Set?

A PSD set utilizes the three following old school body building techniques:

  • Pre exhaust sets
  • Strength set
  • Drop set

In other words, a PSD set is a cluster of a Pre Exhaust set + a Strength set + a Drop Set.

Here’s the breakdown of each component of a PSD set:

Pre Exhaust sets use a single joint exercise before a multi joint exercise. For example a Lateral Raise before a Shoulder Press. The idea is to recruit a greater # of muscle fibers in the intended muscle by ensuring muscle fatigue before neurological fatigue.

Strength Sets are traditional, multi joint exercises performed with 6-10 reps at 70-80% of your 1 rep max.

Drop Sets are intended to extend a set by dropping the weight with each set to allow the movement to continue. Increasing the Time Under Tension of a set is a tried and true method of building size.

Or, Mechanical Drop Sets are used in the general fitness and fat loss protocol. These sets are version of drop sets, but instead of simply dropping the weight to continue the set, you change exercises.

PSD Sets vs. 747 Sets

To do the original 747, start with 7 reps using a moderate weight. Without resting, increase the load and bang out 4 reps. Finish the set by doing another 7 reps using a lighter weight. You would perform these sets and reps in a row using the same exercise.

PSD sets are a bit different but just a brutal. Chose a single joint exercise of the same muscle as the strength exercise to follow. The drop set exercise will be the same exercise as the pre exhaust exercise. Chose a weight for the pre exhaust exercise you can perform for a 10 RM but do only 8 reps. Then chose a Strength exercise you could perform for a 10 RM but only do 8 reps. Finally, drop 5-10lbs from the pre exhaust exercise and finish with 8-12 reps. I’ve provided you several practical examples of PSD sets in the next section.

Finding the correct weights for the desired effect is a bit of an art, not so much a science. I’ve done my best here to give you general guidelines to find starting weights but add or delete weight when necessary. You may even find yourself dropping 5-10 lbs each exercise with each set. These sets are brutal.

Remember, the weight are simply arbitrary. Drop the ego and use the proper weight to accomplish your goals.

Using PSD Sets For Different Goals

For physique goals I use PSD sets to add work volume and create more of a pump in the muscle involved, which can stimulate hypertrophy. Here you push the reps to 8-12 per exercise with minimal rest between each. A great place for PSD sets are as a main exercise in Nick’s Hypertrophy Training Program Design: The Alternate-Undulate Method.

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For performance athletes I use PSD sets to help increase work capacity by building power-endurance. Here you would increase the weight (85% + of your 1 rep max) and decrease the reps per exercise to 3-5 with 15 seconds of rest between each exercise. We are also going to replace the single joint exercise with a more athletic exercise that matches the strength exercise. A great place for PSD sets for performance athletes would be at the beginning of your workout when you are more fresh.

For general fitness and fat loss training I use PSD sets to help increase the metabolic demand of the workout. Here you would push the reps to 15-20 per exercise with minimal rest between each. A great place to add PSD sets for general fitness and fat loss are at the end of the workout as a brutal finisher.

PSD Set Templates

These templates will allow you to plug and play your favorite exercises for each goal.

PSD set template for physique:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – x 8-12 reps
  • Strength – x 8-12 reps @ 60-70% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – x 8-12 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

PSD set template for performance:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 90 seconds – 2 minutes between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – x 3-5 reps
  • Strength – x 3-5 reps @ 80-85% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – x 3-5 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

PSD set template for general fitness and fat loss:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets

  • Pre Exhaust – x 15-20 reps
  • Strength – x 15-20 reps @ 50% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – x 15-20 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

Practical PSD Set Examples

Here’s a variety of real world PSD set examples you can put in your programs right now.

SHOULDERS

A PSD set for physique:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – DB Lateral Raise x 8-12 reps
  • Strength – DB Shoulder Press x 8-12 reps @ 60-70% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – DB Lateral Raise x 8-12 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

A PSD set for performance:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 90 seconds – 2 minutes between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – Med Ball Squat Press Throw x 3-5 reps
  • Strength – BB Push Press x 3-5 reps @ 80-85% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – Med Ball Squat Press Throw x 3-5 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

A PSD set general fitness and fat loss:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – DB Rear Delt Raise x 15-20 reps
  • Strength – DB Arnold Press x 15-20 reps @ 50% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop (Mechanical) Set – DB Lateral Raise x 15-20 reps with similar weight as Pre Exhaust exercise because it acts as a Mechanical Drop Set.

QUADS

A PSD set for physique:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – Machine Leg Extension x 8-12 reps
  • Strength – BB Front Squat x 8-12 reps @ 60-70% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – Machine Leg Extension x 8-12 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

A PSD set for performance:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 90 seconds – 2 minutes between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – DB Squat Jumps x 3-5 reps
  • Strength – BB Push Press x 3-5 reps @ 80-85% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – DB Squat Jumps x 3-5 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

A PSD set general fitness and fat loss:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – Backward Sled Walks x 30-40 steps
  • Strength – DB Goblet Squat x 15-20 reps @ 50% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop (Mechanical) Set – Forward Sled Push x x 30-40 steps with similar weights as Pre Exhaust exercise because it acts as a Mechanical Drop Set.

CHEST

A PSD set for physique:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – TRX Chest Fly x 8-12 reps
  • Strength – DB Chest Press x 8-12 reps @ 60-70% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – TRX Chest Fly x 8-12 reps with 20-25% less leverage than the pre exhaust exercise

A PSD set for performance:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 90 seconds – 2 minutes between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – Plyo Pushups x 3-5 reps
  • Strength – BB Bench Press x 3-5 reps @ 80-85% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – Plyo Pushups x 3-5 reps with 20-25% less weight than the pre exhaust exercise

A PSD set general fitness and fat loss:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – Close grip Pushups (hands elevated on bench) x 15-20 reps
  • Strength – Machine Chest Press x 15-20 reps @ 50% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop (Mechanical) Set – Pushups (hands elevated on bench) x 15-20 reps

GLUTES

A PSD set for physique:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust –Glute Bridge + Chains x 8-12 reps
  • Strength – BB Glute Bridge x 8-12 reps @ 60-70% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – Body Weight Glute Bridge x 8-12 reps with 20-25% less leverage than the pre exhaust exercise

A PSD set for performance:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 90 seconds – 2 minutes between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – Band resisted Glute Bridge x 5 reps
  • Strength – BB Glute Bridge x 3-5 reps @ 80-85% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop Set – Glute Bridge x 8-10 reps each leg

A PSD set general fitness and fat loss:

Perform 2-3 sets of the following with 60-90 seconds between sets.

  • Pre Exhaust – Body Weight Glute Bridge x 15-20 reps
  • Strength – Band Resisted Glute Bridge x 15-20 reps @ 50% of your 1 rep max
  • Drop (Mechanical) Set – Body Weight Glute Bridge x 15-20 reps

 

About the author:

head shot 3Michael Volkmar, MS, CSCS, PES, CPT, received his master’s degree in Exercise Science with a specialization in Exercise, Nutrition, and Eating Behavior from George Washington University (GWU). In 2001, Mike started his well-traveled path in Sports Performance Training at the Junior College level (OCC, Onondaga, NY) working with the baseball team. He worked for three years as the Strength and Conditioning Coach at GWU, first with the Single A affiliate (High Desert Mavericks) of the Milwaukee Brewers, and later season with the Double A affiliate (Harrisburg Senators) of the Washington Nationals, before moving on to spend one year at the International Performance Institute of IMG Academies, FL. Mike continued his professional development by becoming the Director of Strength and Conditioning at the APEX Academies. Currently, Mike is the strength and conditioning coach at the Peddie School. A Division I baseball player during his undergraduate career, Mike is an amateur powerlifter with a passion for all things fitness. Mike has advanced specialty certifications in strength and conditioning, post-rehab exercise, athletic development, and sports medicine. He is the co-author of the upcoming title Mobility Workout Handbook.