There has been a ton of talk lately about the Reverse Pyramid Training method, better known as RPT. At this point you have heard a lot about RPT and how it contradicts the ways we were taught to lift years ago.
We were always taught to start light and build up to our maximum lifts. RPT challenges that notion with the thought that we should be doing our heaviest weights when our body is the freshest.
The great news is that you probably haven’t been doing the RPT program.
Why is that great news? Because at this point your body has likely begun to hit a plateau because it has become accustomed to this routine. This means that by switching to the RPT program, you will not only be lifting more effectively, but it will also shock your muscles and boost your weightlifting gains!
If you are looking to develop incredible strength and an aesthetic body at the same time, give reverse pyramid training a try!
What is Reverse Pyramid Training?
As the name suggests, reverse pyramid training is the “reverse” of pyramid training. Pyramid Training is a standard weight lifting training system that starts with lighter weights and higher reps, and then progresses to heavier weights and lower reps. For example, a standard pyramid bench press program day would look like this:
- Set 1: 10-12 Reps @ 60% 1RM (1 Rep Max)
- Set 2: 7-9 Reps @ 70% 1RM
- Set 3: 5-6 Reps @ 80% 1RM
- Set 4: 3-4 Reps @ 85% 1RM
This is a simple form of traditional pyramid training.
Reverse pyramid training programs on the other hand, would be the opposite. Unlike traditional pyramid training programs, you won’t do a very low rep set. However, you’ll probably start at 5-6 reps. However, you will begin you your training program with your “heaviest” set and then work up to the lightest set.
- Set 1: 5-6 Reps @ 85% 1RM
- Set 2: 7-9 Reps @ 80% 1RM
- Set 3: 10-12 Reps @ 70% 1RM
- Set 4: 12-15 Reps @ 60% 1RM
As you can see, another advantage of the RPT training program is that you should also be able to use a bit higher % of your 1RM per set because you do not need to “save” energy for the end.
This is a simple explanation of the reverse pyramid training program, which is all it needs because it is a simple program!
Benefits of Reverse Pyramid Training
Below are just a few benefits of using the RPT method and why you should incorporate them into your personal workout training:
Maximum Weight = Maximum Strength
If you are lifting your heaviest set while your body is fresh, that means you will be able to lift more and ultimately build strength quicker. you’re going to want to perform a couple warm up sets while minimizing fatigue.
This is where we 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.
You Only Perform 1 Maximum Effort Set!
The great part about RPT is that you only have to perform your heaviest set 1 time! That’s it! You will certainly want to have someone spot you for the set, but if you have warmed up properly, you will be ready for it.
What a wave of relief you will feel knowing you just finished the hardest part of your workout. From there it’s all downhill!
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.
It Gets Easier as You Go!
By getting the hard part out of the way first, your body will be super charged allowing you to push through the easier sets later on. You see, lifting a heavy weight requires near maximal muscle fiber stimulation from the very first rep.
This is unlike lightweights, which you only recruit all of your muscle fibers on those last few really tough reps.
Concluding Thoughts – Reverse Pyramid Training Results
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.
We have been told for years that we should build up to our heavy weights as we go through our workout.
Sensibly speaking, reverse pyramid training makes perfect sense because we want to have all of our strength for the heaviest weights instead of feeling exhausted and not being able to complete the last set.
Anytime we suggest a new workout, we always say, just give it a try! If nothing else, it will shock your body for a week which will make your old workout seem new again (if you decide to go back to it). Our guess is that if you try reverse pyramid training just 1 time, you will be hooked!
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