What is the reverse pyramid training routine?
In this post we’re going to be talking about the most effective training method to gaining jaw dropping strength and building more muscle: reverse pyramid training.
Ironically, this is about the simplest and most sensible way to go about training, but sadly, no one ever does it.
In fact, nearly every workout routine you’ve heard about, read or seen someone doing in your gym, is in direct contrast with what I’m going to share with you today…
Let’s dive into 3 profound benefits reverse pyramid training offers.
Reverse Pyramid Training Workout Benefits
If you have a few years of training under your belt and feel you have hit a plateau, RPT will get the wheels moving again.
Alternatively, if you’re relatively inexperienced, RPT will help you make the best strength and muscle gains compared to any other training approach.
Let’s talk about how it works.
Benefit #1 – You Build To Your Heaviest Set Without Fatigue
In an RPT workout, you’ll be doing your heaviest set first while you’re completely fresh. This means being able to handle heavy weights with more ease and power than ever before.
Now surely you can’t jump right into your heavy set without a proper warm up, unless you’re looking to get injured.
As a result, you’re going to want to perform a couple warm up sets while minimizing fatigue. This is where I recommend the 5/3/1 protocol. Perform 5 reps with a light weight, 3 reps with a medium weight and 1 rep with a weight close to your heavy set.
Rest a couple minutes between these build up sets and a full 3 minutes before going into your work set. The good news is that you only have to do these build up sets for the first exercise of a muscle group. For your other exercises, you can just jump right into your first work set.
Benefit #2 – You Do Just One Heavy Set With Maximum Effort
With RPT you’re only performing your heaviest set once.
That’s it! One heavy set is all she wrote baby. If you take that set to the absolute brink of your capabilities, you will not be able to replicate that set again for the rest of your workout.
What’s amazing is that there is a great wave of relief when you know that you only have to do that heavy weight for one set.
Mentally this is a huge advantage, it puts you in the winning mindset and ensures maximum effort. This will lead to consistent personal records like you’ve never experienced before.
Moreover, by only performing one maximum effort heavy set per exercise, you avoid creating excessive neural fatigue.
This means that you’ll feel stronger and more refreshed than ever. Lifting heavy weights won’t turn into the grind that it was before.
Once you hit the top of the rep range on this set, you’ll add weight at the next work (either normal increments, or the more effective microloading increments using fractional plates).
Benefit #3 – You Do Two Easier Sets After The Hard Set
The beautiful thing about your maximum effort set is that it will supercharge your body.
You see, lifting a heavy weight requires near maximal muscle fiber stimulation from the very first rep. This is unlike light weights, which you only recruit all of your muscle fibers on those last few really tough reps.
By performing your heavy set first, you shift your body into a temporary state of heightened muscle fiber activation. This means that all of the lighter sets you do afterwards will promote more muscle growth than if you did them beforehand.
You can see this for yourself when you go to do your lighter sets, the first few reps will feel suspiciously easy. This is because you’ll be using more muscle fibers than you’d normally use for that weight.
I recommend dropping the weight by approximately 10% for your second set and an additional 10% for your third set.
Rest at-least 2-3 minutes between these sets for full recovery and maximum performance.
Aim to perform 2 additional reps every time you drop the weight by 10%. So if you performed 6 reps on your heavy set, shoot for 8 reps on your second set and 10 reps on your third set.
Now I know some of you are wondering why RPT is better than other training styles and approaches… There are a few reasons, which I’ll breakdown in the next section.
THESE ARE THE MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN WEIGHTLIFTING
MISTAKE #1 – DOING PYRAMID WEIGHT TRAINING
One of the main reasons why hard working lifters fail to consistently build strength and muscle mass is because they do most of their heavy sets in a pre fatigued state.
I invite you to go to your gym on a Monday afternoon and take 10 minutes to watch and see what unfolds on the bench press stations.
Invariably, you will see person after person burn themselves out with several high rep sets before they actually get to the real weight. They might hammer out 135 lbs for 12 reps and follow that up with 155 lbs for 10, 175 lbs for 8, 195 lbs for 6 and finally 205 lbs for 5.
By the time they get to their heavy set, their muscles are already fatigued. They are then lifting under sub-optimal conditions and will fall short of what they’re truly capable of performing.
This will drastically limit the strength and muscle building stimulus.
MISTAKE #2 – PACING YOURSELF DURING YOUR SETS
Another common phenomenon I see in the gym is pacing. This is when someone goes easy on their first couple sets to ensure they finish all of their sets with the same weight.
A commonly prescribed set and rep scheme for building strength and muscle is 3 sets of 5 reps or even 5 sets of 5 reps. In order to finish all sets for 5 reps you can’t possibly use your actual 5 rep max. If you were to do so it would look like this, set 1 – 5 reps, set 2 – 4 reps, set 3 – 3 reps…..
Realistically, you’re looking at using a weight you can do for 8 reps to get multiple sets of 5 reps. This means that you’re performing under your potential.
You’re capable of doing around 8 reps but instead, you’re settling for sets of 5 reps. This is simply unacceptable.
MISTAKE #3 – DOING MULTIPLE HEAVY SETS TO FAILURE
On the other hand, you have the no pain no gain lifters.
These are the individuals that take every set to the brink of failure. They will use a weight they can do for 4-6 reps and they will push it until failure for several sets. This usually means grinding out 6 reps on their first set, 5 reps on their second, 4 reps on their third and a couple more sets of 3-4 reps.
With heavy lifting you create loads of neural fatigue. Performing multiple sets with a heavy weight until failure is just a recipe for overtraining and burnout. You’ll very quickly hit a plateau and even struggle to maintain your strength with such a protocol.
Talk about all pain no gain.
I now hope you understand why RPT training is simply the best way to train for maximum muscle gains as a natural lifter. There is no better approach to weightlifting out there. To give you a better idea of how you would incorporate RPT into your workouts, watch the video below to see exactly how this training looks:
Reverse Pyramid Training routine Example
RPT Will Get You Strong And Muscular
Reverse pyramid training is the most sensible way to go about training.
You’re doing your heaviest set while you’re as strong as possible. It’s only when you push the envelope out of what you’re physically capable of doing under optimal conditions that you’ll realize incredible strength and muscle gains.
I attribute 75-80% of my muscle gains to this style of training.
I utilize some strategic light-weight pump training to get some extra growth on stubborn muscle groups. I talk about this more in my Greek God Program, as well, I show you how to integrate the pump training into your workout routines without sabotaging your strength gains.
I’ll also finish by saying that in order to have great reverse pyramid training results in your workouts, you need to have a sensible progression model in place. This is beyond the scope of this article, but it is something I address with great detail in my Greek God course.