Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reverse Pyramid Revisited

I've been using a wide variety of training strategies over the years, but the one training style I was most successful with was low volume, high intensity training employed in a reverse pyramid fashion.

A google search on "reverse pyramid training" (RPT) brings you to an article by someone called Randy Herring. You can check out the article here.

I was unaware that this training style even had a name for it, as I started to train like this intuitiveley.

The greater amount of force you'll be able to generate with your muscles will be when you are freshest in your workout, e.x., the first set of each exercise performed. If a set counts, it is the first one, which is most important.

From the article. It always made sense to me to start working sets with the heaviest weight possible and then lower weights as strength decreased.

Besides the basic gist of the system, there isn't much I agree with Randy on; some of the guidelines given in the chart in that article are flat out ridiculous. My main beef here is with the frequency, volume and rest period guidelines given for the various categories (beginner, intermediate, advanced).

Either way, let me take you through a back workout and show you how I might use RPT in practise.

Deadlift, 2 x 3-5

600 x 3 (max effort)

The first set is what I call the "top set" and the one you should strive to increase on a regular basis. This is a max effort set, which means you stop when you're sure you don't have another rep in you.

Rest at least 3 mins, lower weight by 10% for next set; in this set, do not go max effort rather stop when and if you hit the same reps as first set +1 rep.

540 x 4

That's it, 2 sets and done with deads. Now rest 3-5 mins depending on how winded you feel (your heart should be pumping hard).

Time for some chins. Recall that palms are supposed to be facing you, not the other way around (that's pullups). I recommend a medium grip, about shoulder width spacing. Not a very wide grip, as this limits the range of movement.

Chins, 3 x 4-6 (alternatively, two heavy sets in the 4-6 rep interval and one set in the 10-12 rep interval)

Body weight + 100 x 4 = 300 x 4 (max effort)

Rest 2-3 mins, 10% off (remember to count total weight, not only the weight added in the belt) and we do

Body weight + 70 x 5 = 270 x 5 (no problem)

Third set, 7.5%-10% off and we should get 6 reps.

Body weight + 50 = 265 x 6 (easy)

Alternatively on the third set, ditch the weight belt and do body weight only.

Body weight x 12-15; treat this as a finisher to get some extra volume in, don't go to failure.

Ok, done with chins and time for some Pendlay Rows; here, do not use the RPT set structure, rather take your 7 RM and do sets of 5 using the Starting Strength principles. At this point you should be fairly fatigued, so no more RPT.

250 x 5 x 3 - up weight next workout (the SS principles dictates that you up weight when you can get 3 sets of 5)

Done with back.

Another example for chest, done in higher and wider rep ranges.

Bench Press, 3 x 8-12

250 x 8
225 x 10
200 x 12

Incline Bench, 2 x 6-10

225 x 6
190 x 10

How to progress with RPT

The top set should be your main focus and the one you should continually strive to increase with 2,5% or add another rep to. Add weight when you hit the upper range of the rep interval you wan't to work in; for example, deads in the above example would call for upping weight when you hit 5 reps. If you only got 3 reps, you'd be better off trying to stay with the current weight for next workout and try to add another rep.

In the chins example, you'd wait until you got 6 reps in the first set before upping weight.

The other 1-2 sets which are done with a lower weight, should be increased independently. For example, progressing in the chins example might look like this

Week 1, chins

Body weight + 100 x 4
Body weight + 70 x 5
Body weight + 50 x 6 (the last two sets weren't that hard so let's increase them for next week)

Week 2, chins

Body weight + 100 x 4
Body weight + 75 x 5
Body weight + 55 x 6

Week 3, chins

Body weight + 100 x 5
Body weight + 75 x 6
Body weight + 60 x 6

Week 4, chins

Body weight + 100 x 5
Body weight + 80 x 5
Body weight + 65 x 5

Something like that.

Random notes

- Remember, the first set should be max effort; but try doing all sets like this and you risk a burnout.

- You can work in a tight range (i.e 3-5 reps) or a wider range (i.e 6-12 reps) and it's all a question of how much you drop the weight in between sets. If you went all out in the first set, lowering the weight by 5% will get you about the same reps as the first set, lowering the weight with 10% and you get about +1-2 reps, by 15% you get +3-4 reps and so forth. Some individual factors play into this, which calls for some experimentation.

- Rest at least 2-3 mins in between movemenst and sets; this is especially important after the top set.

- Mix it up, there is no need to do all movements RPT style. RPT can be quite draining on your nervous system, assuming you go all out on the top set.

Probably going to include something on this in the book, since I think it's a very productive training system.


Anonymous said...

i always went the other way around upping the weight for next set...but like you say this makes more sense so im going to try this my next bulking cycle...thanks for giving me some new ideas

Anonymous said...

Sounds like "Power the People". One top set of DL 3-5 reps, rest 3-5min, drop the weight by 10%, another set of 3-5.

Worked for me.



Unknown said...


that wouldn't surprise me at all. I haven't read Power To The People, but I'll have a look at it now that you mention it.

Anonymous said...


I strongly recommend ‘Power to the People’. It really changed the way I train.
It also works very well with IF.
As do low volume ladders; that is one rep, rest, two reps rest, 3 reps, rest repeat. Works well with pressing and pull-ups.



mrjling said...

What is your take on the warm-up before doing a reverse pyramid session? Great blog as always!

Милко Георгиев said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Милко Георгиев said...

Hi Martin! My name is Milko Georgiev. I use this principle in my training method Spider Stamina. You can check it out here

Unknown said...


personally, I only warm up on compound movements and I do something along these lines - sets of 4-6 reps of 40%, 60% and 80% of the target weight for the work set.

Example: target weight being 200 lbs in the first work set, warm up with 6 x 80 lbs, 5 x 120 lbs and 4 x 160 lbs.


cool, I'll check it out, thanks.

Anonymous said...


For compound movements, doing warm-up sets of 6x40%, 5x60%, and 4x80% of the "top set" seems slightly at odds with the concept of RPT. I know warmups are required to mitigate the risk of injury, but 4 reps at 80% of the max effort seems like it would incur a significant amount of fatigue.

I've tried doing a 40% and then two 60% warmup sets, and that has seemed to make my max efforts (top sets) a bit easier. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Unknown said...

If you're doing 200 x 8 in your top set, with a 1RM 250 or so, your last warm up set would equal 4 reps at 65% 1RM.

IME, such low intensity doesn't cause any fatigue, certainly not enough to affect your top set.

But, the warm up sets aint rocket science. If you think your warm ups may be affecting your top sets negatively, just go easier on them.

Anonymous said...

I think this used to be called the Oxford method. I have also found it useful.

Eric Komans said...

So to be clear: RPT is your work sets, and doesn't advocate skipping warm-up sets?

Unknown said...


cubby said...

This is an old post, but I have a question on an idea I have been toying without about RPT since you wrote it. What do you think of doing RPT, with DC style rest-pause training? So, for chins, that would mean do as many as you can with whatever weight, drop the weight 10% and repeat after a 20s or so break, drop another 10% and repeat after another 20s break. This would be done with one rest-pause "set." I probably wouldn't do this for deadlifts or squats for safety reasons, doing them in regular RPT fashion instead. The frequency would be similar to DC frequency, each bodypart being hit every five days or so.

Unknown said...

Sure, go ahead and try it. You can make everything sound great in theory, but it's all about how it fits together within the context of your routine.

That being said, what you suggested sounds like something worth experimenting with. But start doing only one set, not multiple sets (it's similar to DC after all, and DC = one really hard set).

cubby said...

Thanks. I plan to keep it to one set for sure. More that one would probably be overdoing it for most lifts. I will give it a shot after I finish a couple more DC blasts. Then I can compare the two.

cubby said...

I've recently come across something that supports reverse pyramid training, so long as the first set is done very heavy and low reps (probably 3RM and below). Iron Addict and some of the others on his forum turned me on to the idea known as post-tetanic facilitation (PTF), post-activation potentiation (PAP), etc. They all basically mean the same thing. I don't know if you are familiar with this, but the main mechanism behind it seems to be that after a very heavy set, myosin heavy chain kinase is released into the muscle cell, which makes the whole contractile complex more sensitive to released CA, and the CNS is also 'primed' to fire all motor units efficiently and quickly. The optimum rest period for increased force production to occur in is between 4 and 11 minutes. Less than 4 minutes, and fatigue has a tendency to interfere with any advantage gained from potentiation. Here is a research review on it (the full text is available on Medline):

Sand Blaster and Iron Addict claim that when utilized properly, the effect is fairly significant. Reverse pyramid training would be very effective for this. A max effort three or four rep set (since potentiation seems to be greatest when loads greater than 90% 1RM are utilized), followed four to five minutes later by a lighter set, would allow more reps than usual to be pumped out. Of course, one would have to be very careful with this, to avoid burnout. An ME set, followed by a potentiated set might be all the workload one could tolerate for that exercise, followed by some submaximal assistance exercises.

This effect is apparently most pronounced in those with high levels of fast-twitch fibers, so for those used to high loads, or with a genetically higher amount of type 2 fibers, this will have the greatest effect.

I thought you might find that interesting at least. Even if the second set isn't taken one rep short of failure, reverse pyramid training probably allows a greater workload and intensity to be achieved without significantly heightened CNS fatigue. A person doesn't even have to be pushing for this effect to benefit from it, and if following your basic guidelines for RPT, will benefit from it anyway. That is, if it doesn't end up proven false.

cubby said...

I also forgot to add that Poliquin uses these same principles in his 1-6 and 2-5 programs. His volume is too high and the link is from T-Nation, but it still illustrates the point.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing, Cubby. I'm familiar with PFT, but haven't looked into the studies much. I'll have a look at that review you referenced.

Unknown said...

Martin, how do you usually split up your body parts for type of training? I think you usually train about 3x/week, so do you do Push/Pull/Legs or some other setup?

Unknown said...




Weighted chins

4 sessions all in all, some accessory work after each main lift.

Unknown said...

Adding to that, the cycle usually runs 8-9 days and not a week.

Manveet said...

Hey Martin, is this the style of training that you typically like to use for your clients?

Unknown said...


Anton said...

Hi Martin. Great post!
I have a question. At the moment im injured and cant do heavy deadlifts, squats etc. So basicly i can only work out my legs properly with Legpress, leg extensions and legcurls.
Do you think that this reversed pyramid program could work for me to increase my legpress? (which is the main exercise of my legworkouts)
Do you think that i can apply for example the deadlift sets(1 set, then 10% of that weight) that you described first in the post, or should i add mor sets, reps or change the percentage of 1RM?

Would be really nice if you could help me, would really appreciate it. / Anton

Unknown said...

Yes, of course. I should note that the leg press is best trained in the 8-12 rep range and rest-pause style.

You may consider something like

300 x 8

270 x 10-12 (with the last few reps rest-paused).

Works very well.

Anton said...

Great!, thank you so much Martin. Really appreciate it. WIll definately try it out!
Keep up yor fantastic work.
/ Anton

Unknown said...

"Martin Berkhan said...
Weighted chins

4 sessions all in all, some accessory work after each main lift.
April 20, 2010 2:44 PM

Martin Berkhan said...
Adding to that, the cycle usually runs 8-9 days and not a week.
April 20, 2010 2:53 PM"

Martin -- So you're saying that you basically lift every other day (4 sessions over 9 days), shooting for a 2.5% progression on a major lift each workout? Seems like hitting the legs and lower back heavy every 4 days (alternating squat & DL) would require a pretty high recovery capacity in order to sustain that 2.5% progression consistently. Have your trainees responded well to a similar setup?

Unknown said...

I up the weight by 2.5% and continue doing that until the 3-4 rep range depending on movement. Back-cycle to the 6-9 rep range and start the cycle over again.

My trainees have responded very favorably to the setup, yes.

Anonymous said...


How long do your lifting sessions usually last? Are you dead lifting and squating every session, or do you rotate them?

Eddy B

Unknown said...

30-40 mins, 6-8 sets, squats and deads trained once every 8-14th days atm.

Typical cycle in the past: deads and squats once within 8-10 day cycles.

Unknown said...

Have you dropped RPT in favor of your HFT (High Frequency Training) template?

Unknown said...

No, I did HFT in fall-winter. Been training low frequency RPT since Feb.

HFT is great but I just don't have the time for it. RPT is far better in terms of time investment:reward.

Anonymous said...

Hello Martin,

Do you think 4-6 reprange on benchpress is overkill in a reverse pyarmid style?

1st set: 4-6 fail (top weight)
2nd set: 10% less weight (from top weight)
3nd set: 20% less weight (from top weight)

Should I have a higher reprange, like 6-8 reps to avoid injury? or do you think 4-6 reprange will be ok? Maybe I should go for 4-6 reps in 2-3 months than going up for 6-8 reprange or even higher 8-10 reps and than increase weight over the time intill I hit 4-6 reps again?

Thanks for any answer.

Unknown said...

3 x 4-6 is just fine.

Even better, start at 2 x 8-10 and work downwards.

2 x 8-10

3 x 6-8

3 x 4-6

Danne said...

Thanks alot for the answer. I'll go for 3 x4-6 reps intill I hit a plateau and then start over again with your advice.

I just most say that you're doing a great job. I really appreciate all your help from the blogg/comments, it have helped me alot, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin,

Love all the advice and leangains approach in general. Was wondering about the training split. I have a good idea how to structure the workouts in terms of volume and rep ranges, but what did your split look like?

You mentioned you only squatted or deadlifted heavy once every 8 days I believe? Just wondering how you split up body parts and such using rpt and somewhere between 8 and 12 (max) sets per part.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin!

I'll soon start my RPT training and I'm wondering which exercises I should do and for how many sets?

My sets will go from 6reps-8reps-10reps (I want to train Hypertrophy now after my time with SL 5*5).

I thaught that my schedule should look something like this:

Day 1: Chest/shoulders/triceps
Benchpress 3 sets and Millitarypress 2 sets

Day 3 or 4: Back
Deadlift 2 sets and Chins 3 sets

Day 5 or 6: Legs
Atleast 3 sets of squats but what more exercises should I pick?

Does this schedule look good? After each set I will lower the weight with ~15%

Anonymous said...

Hello martin,

Do you think its fine to use Reverse pyramid in the Upper/lower Max effort exercise of Westside for skinny bastards routine ?

The style used by WS4SB is:

ME Bench press: work to a max set of 5 [target weight 200lbs]

60 x 5 reps
100 x 5 reps
140 x 5 reps
180 x 5 reps
200 x 5 reps

do you think its better to do it in reverse pyramid instead ?

Unknown said...

"Do you think its fine to use Reverse pyramid in the Upper/lower Max effort exercise of Westside for skinny bastards routine ?"

Not familiar with the setup. Generally speaking, I don't think you should mix routines and try to "improve" on pre-made templates. There's probably a reason for the Skinny Bastard's routine being set up the way it is.

Anonymous said...

When doing exercises RPT style, I have noticed that it is much easier to do so in lower rep ranges (3 x 4-6, 5-7, 6-8, etc...) vs. higher rep ranges (3 x 8-10, 10-12, etc...). In the lower rep ranges when I decrease the weight by 10%, I'll get an extra rep on the next set with no issues. Whereas, with the higher rep ranges, when I decrease the weight by 10%, I sometimes won't even achieve the extra rep in the next set due to fatigue (even after resting for 3 minutes).

Is this just a matter of possibly adapting to the fatigue (if that makes sense) eventually? Or would you suggest maybe using 12.5% to 15% decreases for the higher rep work?

Unknown said...

Good observation. I've noticed the same but it tends to vary a bit between individuals. Do you or have you typically been working in the 4-8 rep range? I.e. for the last few years.

Anonymous said...

"Do you or have you typically been working in the 4-8 rep range? I.e. for the last few years."

For the most part - yeah. I began weight training by using Max-OT (primarily 4-6 rep range with some 6-8 thrown in there). After that I've been using a lot of power/hyper type workouts though, so it was a fairly good mix of lower and higher rep range work. 95% of my work is under 10 reps or under though.

P.S. Saw in another blog post that you're gonna be posting something on training/cardio this weekend (hopefully!), so I'm looking forward to that :). I always like reading about your training preferences since, like you, I'm somewhat of a low-volume / high intensity junkie

Anonymous said...

Don't you think top-set's which are also to failure set's and they have a great injury potential while doing on squats, deadlifts, bench presses. Moreover there is also another injury risk; which is overloading joints from the first working set.

Could you please inform us more about doing RPT's in injury-free circumstances.

Thanks for your answer in advance
Kindly Regards, Serhat

Anonymous said...

Can you tell us more about the secondary lifts? What would you recommend - 3day a week routine(bench, squat, deadlifts+chin ups) or 4 day routine during 8 days(separating DL and chins)
- how many secondary lifts(not reverse pyramid) is best? Should I do only one first exercise as a reverse pyramid or can I add another - if yes can you give me example what to add to bench, I quess I can add Shoulder press to squat. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Heya Martin! I've decided to try out RPT. Thing is, I'm slightly confused as to the independent increase of the 2nd and 3rd work set.

Assuming you do a 60kg x 7 reps, 54kg x 8, 48kg x 9; it's following the take 10% off and increase 1 rep method.

So once I hit say, 8 reps, and I increase my weight by 2.5% to 61.5kg, do my 2nd and 3rd sets remain constant at 54x8, 48x9? Or do I take 90%, 80% of 61.5kg?

Thanks in advance!

Unknown said...


"Don't you think top-set's which are also to failure set's and they have a great injury potential while doing on squats, deadlifts, bench presses. Moreover there is also another injury risk; which is overloading joints from the first working set."

No, actually I don't. If you're training to failure your mind is 100% on the set. People more often injure themselves when they let their form and focus slip.

Unknown said...


"Assuming you do a 60kg x 7 reps, 54kg x 8, 48kg x 9; it's following the take 10% off and increase 1 rep method.

So once I hit say, 8 reps, and I increase my weight by 2.5% to 61.5kg, do my 2nd and 3rd sets remain constant at 54x8, 48x9? Or do I take 90%, 80% of 61.5kg?"

No, when you hit 8 reps in set 2 and/or 3, you increase those by 2.5% as well.

Jonathan said...

first of all thanks for all the work you do on the site, it's been a great help to me. My question is, do you recommend your 8-9 day, alternating days routine for someone who is still a beginner in terms of absolute strength? My guess is that the low training volume would be too little if a trainee wasn't handling much weight.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Is there any possibility you could do a post on difference in the pacing of reps (fast or slow) and what you recommend?

Me said...

Hey Martin,

First of all, like many others I'd like to offer my thanks for all the great content on your site. I really wanted to stop going to the gym and wandering from machine to machine not knowing what I was doing but I hadn't found a good resource for a 35 year old man who hasn't been in a proper weight room since high school. One of the best resources you suggest on your site is Starting Strength as recommended reading. I read the whole thing and all of a sudden going to the gym is fun. I've been doing the routine suggested by SS whereby I'm starting with Squats, alternating either a bench press or standard press each workout, then doing deadlifts. I finish off with 3 sets of pullups to failure and 3 sets of dips to failure. I literally started with zero strength. The first week I went and did the routine, my starting bench weight was (I'm embarrassed to admit) 90 lbs and I struggled with the final rep of the 3rd set (3x5) and had to have a spotter pull the bar off me. ...Awesome. I just finished my 3rd week and I'm up to 3 sets of 135. In fact all my lifts have gone up with each session and it's exciting to see that I can do a little more each time now that I've put a strong focus on my form. I've been going 3 times a week with a couple days rest in between. I've also been doing a midnight to 4pm IF routine and eating Paleo the entire time. I'm wondering at what point I should abandon this routine and move on to RPT since I feel like I'm still working on getting a base level of fitness under my belt. Is this suitable for beginners? I feel like the weight and reps I do now each session is just enough for me to keep good form and anything beyond that will degrade it. I do 3-4 sets of 5 reps of gradual warmups before my 3 sets of 5 at my target weight and that feels like a good workout afterwards. It seems like with warmup, I'd be lifting less weight to get through the RPT routine. Can you comment on criteria for beginning weight trainers to be ready for RPT?

Thanks very much!



Adam said...


Do you account for bodyweight when using RPT for squats, similar to how you account for bodyweight when doing chins? I read somewhere that when squatting, you are squatting approx. 70% of your bodyweight on average. I don't know how accurate that is though.

Wazzup said...

PLayed around with it today.. I find it not that different from Wendler's 5/3/1. 1 top set followed by some volume. The details are different ofcourse, but that's what it reminded me of.

Anonymous said...

Martin, this works if my aim right now is volume because I am a bit skinny?

(For my diet I'm following your amazing IF)

Garrison Brems said...

What are some of the accessory workouts you add to the main lifts on each of the 4 days?

Anonymous said...

Will this style of programming give me (a female, deadlifting 195x3 for example) enough work to really produce results? As a male lifting 600x3 max effort I can see how that'd be draining on the CNS, but should I try more sets?

Vitor said...

Ok, understood the method, but what about the acessories exercies?
A.) Dead, Chins and Rows
B.) Bench, Dips and ?
C.) Squat and ?

I got confused ):

Steve Wright said...

Martin Thanks for all you do!

For your weightloss clients do you usually have them of your 4 day split every 9 days? Or do you put them on a reduced load with the extra calorie deficit like you mentioned in your Random thoughts post?

If it is reduced could you give a quick idea of a sample? Thanks a lot man!

Gustav said...

Hello Martin!
I have been following IF for a year now, and I just dropped 20 kgs. I am aiming at 4 sessions per cycle now with 1 day on, 1 off, and Im struggling to find a place for militarypresses. Doing them on my benchsession atm but Im usually drained after benching (4 sets, RPT-style) so the MP is falling behind.

Also, Im going to try 1x20 reps with Deadlifts and Squats, what are your opinions about 20reps?

Ahmed said...

I've been reading more and more and this and I've put it to use within my own workouts to notice higher weights and increased strength.

Thanks for highlighting this concept Martin.

Anonymous said...

Hey Martin

What type of bench press technique do you use. Do you do the powerlifting technique (where your back is arched) or the bodybuilding technique (back flat on the bench)


Arturo said...

Martin, I bet you've noticed that many have asked about accesory work. Your example of DL+Chins+Pendlay Rows would constitute one day. But what would you suggest for the Bench Press day? .. And for the Squat day? Just curious.

Also... why just two sets on the DL? Your examples showed 3 sets for the Bench, and 3 for the Chins. Why just 2 for DL? Safety reasons or something? Would Squats be done in two sets or three sets?

Thanks in advance for your response.

Tim said...

I think the warm up is important as well and is not being emphasized enough,especially when starting off with a max effort lift. I would suggest Defranco's Agile 8 for warmup:

AlexFromPT said...

Sorry if this has been answered but I couldn't find it... How many sets and reps you advise for squats? Thanks Martin, great job, cheers.

AlexFromPT said...

Sorry to bother again Martin, but I started doing the RPT method and I have a few questions.

Today when I finished my routine, I didn't feel tired. I felt like I could go on and on and on, and I kinda had to force myself not to continue my workout. Is this normal?

I also got the feeling that I didn't push myself hard enough and that my workout sucked* (And yes I reached my limit for every set)

This kind of workout
is oriented to spending less time in the gym right?

I think it's going to take some time until I'm adapted to the method.

*I did feel pumped though :)

Thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

"Martin Berkhan said...
Weighted chins

What exercises for each day?

Khaine said...

Martin I have a question. Now I am using "Russian Bear" training routine. Maybe you already know that, if not:

It's reversed pyramid too, but it has more sets. I don't do this training to failure, because last time after about 8 sets of 80% deadlifts(I have very resistant muscles in 1-6 repeats) I was thinking "ooops, it's time to stop, tomorrow hell will be in my back anyway", and I was right. But it's still about total number of 10 sets in every exercise.
I am also planning to add some minor exercises, for example something for abdominals and arms.

And my questions:

1. Can I do this training fasted(with BCAA), or is it too intensive? Now I am eating 100 grams of brown rice 1,5 h before training, and 10 grams of BCAA about 20 mins before.

2. Can I do some cardio after this training, or is it bad idea(catabolism)?

I want to lose fat, and my fat is stubborn all-round. Every damn pound of fat is very hard to beat.

popimaster said...

"The greater amount of force you'll be able to generate with your muscles will be when you are freshest in your workout"

I tend to disagree as strength world records holders always do pyramide style training, they always ramp up slowly, with single reps

Raul said...

Hi Martin, I've just lost about 24 lbs using IF and I plan to lose about another 10 lbs. I now resemble your body in your modeling days. I want to now put on some muscle to fill out my new lean frame. In your recent post you said,
"I still use RPT to this day personally and consider it the single most effective method for preserving muscle mass and strength on a diet."
Would you consider RPT to also be the most effective method for building (as opposed to preserving) muscle mass and strength? If not, what would you recommend to be the most effective method to put on muscle in a relatively quick time of 3 to 6 months. I know it takes years for substantial muscle growth but I'd like to know what method you would consider most effective to add (not just preserve) muscle in that space of time.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled in, had question about set up.
day 1
Deadlift 4-6 set 1. as I am just starting back, not going to failure but adding weight each time
set 2 is set 1 weight - 10% weight, 2 addl reps.
Bench same, but failure on 1st
Underhand Row 1 set 12 reps
Close, low on platform leg press, 1 set 12
Pull up 1 set failure
day 2
Squat work set 4-6 near technical failure, set 2 -10% + 2 reps
Standing press same
Chins same
stiff dead 12 reps or fail, add each time, 1 set
Dip 12 reps same as stiff dead
2 days rest between workouts. Sometimes 3. Seem OK?

Anonymous said...

You said in response to someone who asked "Is 3 x 4-6 rep range good on bench"

You replied: "Even better, start at 2 x 8-10 and work downwards.

2 x 8-10

3 x 6-8

3 x 4-6"

Does this progression work for bench only, or can you apply this method to squats, deads, etc?


Anonymous said...

Could you use RPT with dumbbells?

Sacha said...

Following on set 2 and 3 in reverse pyramid.

Say I start squatting lift like:
set 1 200lbs x 4
set 2 180lbs x 5
set 3 160lbs x 6

Since the weight are increasing independantly its possible that few months latter the set look like :

set 1 250x5
set 2 240x6
set 3 240x4

Bassically that set 3 catch up with set 2 and that both are catching up with set 1.

In this sort of scenario should we continue the weight progression normally or eventually keep set 2 and 3 "further away" from each other and set 1 ? (by increasing the number of rep needed before increasing the weight ? )


Tamaika Kofe said...

Hi Martin,
Sooo soo glad to be following you and curing my fuckarounditis!!

i have been doing RPT training and its true that it really packs on quite a bit of muscles, but please advise me whether i should still use it when cutting?


anjuli said...

Hi Martin, Your site is very helpful. Thank you so much! I am a novice lifter. I have a Q regarding chins. I can't even do a body weight chin up without assistance (band). Should I still use weights for chins? Or should I keep doing assisted BW chins until I can do BW chins without assistance. Or should I switch Chins for some other exercise? Any suggestions? My goal is fat loss (lots) right now. Thanks.

anjuli said...

Hi Martin,

Would you recommend reverse pyramid training for novice women lifters too? (who have lot of body fat to lose) Or is it for only experienced/advanced lifters?

Miguel said...

Martin, thanks for all the great breakdowns and information.

My name is Martin Berkhan and I work as a nutritional consultant, magazine writer and personal trainer.

Welcome to the Internet's leading resource on intermittent fasting and all things related.

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