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It’s Easier than Ever to Add Time-Saving Drop Sets to Your Workout with Burnout Mode

Burnout mode on Tonal ensures you get just the right amount of volume for muscular adaptations without tacking extra minutes onto your workout.

video loop of a woman performing a squat with burnout mode utilizing drop sets

Your time is limited, so you want to optimize every precious minute you have to work out for maximal gains. One way to do that: Leveraging Tonal’s exclusive Burnout mode to save time and energy, while stimulating muscle growth. Here’s everything you need to know about this feature. 

What is Burnout Mode?

Burnout is a dynamic weight mode that uses the science-backed concept of drop sets, a strength-training technique in which you perform a set until you’re fatigued, then gradually reduce the weight without stopping until you reach failure. The benefit of drop sets is that they’re time efficient—you can increase the volume within a session, but save time without extra sets and rest periods. 

Burnout Mode definition utilizing drop sets: Automatically reduces the digital weight when you're struggling, but the goal is to keep repping it out until the set is over.

When you start to fatigue, you tend to slow down and dip below a certain velocity (speed) threshold. With Burnout mode on, Tonal will automatically reduce the digital weight and continue to reduce it if you keep getting stuck, but the goal is to keep repping it out until the set is over. Like Spotter mode, Burnout mode won’t negatively affect your strength score.

“Burnout mode sets you up for success so you can finish the set without taking a break and starting over or sacrificing your form,” says Josh Clay, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and Fitness Programming Specialist at Tonal.  

How Does Burnout Mode Work? 

Hypertrophy is based on volume: the more you do, the better your results. While there is a point beyond which you won’t get much more benefit, research says the optimal volume is around 10 to 20 sets per week per muscle group with the upper threshold being different for everyone. Simply put, you want to push your volume to continue seeing performance improvements. 

Drop sets with Burnout mode allow you to accrue more volume within your workout without adding extra blocks or sets. “By dropping the weight and continuing with your set, you’re getting closer to that failure threshold without completely burning out,” says Christian Hartford, Program Manager for Applied Sports Science at Tonal. “You’re able to better adapt to the strain on your body and accomplish that minimum-required volume to see adaptations.”

Image of Burnout Mode highlighted on the Tonal trainer to use drop sets

While drop sets are common in the gym, you often need quite a bit of equipment to drop down to new dumbbells every set. And on barbell exercises, you’ll need some seriously good training partners, explains Hartford. “You need someone spotting you, and then one person on each side of the barbell that you can really trust to pull a plate off at the right time for you to continue the set.” Burner mode does all the work for you by monitoring your velocity, which research shows is an effective way to measure real-time fatigue, then seamlessly reducing the weight each time you struggle.  

How is Burnout Mode Programmed on Tonal? 

You’ll find Burnout mode programmed into high volume (upward of 15 to 20 reps) or timed sets. “To get maximal endurance benefits, you may also see Burnout show up in supersets paired with the same muscle group, like a wide grip bench press for reps, and then a 30-second narrow grip bench press with Burnout to really target the working muscle,” explains Clay. 

Pulled quote reading: "Burnout Mode sets you up for success so you can finish the set without taking a break and starting over or sacrificing your form." - Josh Clay, Fitness Programming Specialist, Tonal

You can add Burnout mode to any exercise on Tonal by swiping left twice on your digital weight dial. Select the Burnout option instead of Spotter (which is always on for safety) and it will kick in when you start to slow down in your reps. 

While you can toggle Burnout mode on at any time on your own, it is already built into many of the programs on Tonal such as Full Body Burnout or Power Hour.

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