The Full Information To Reverse Pyramid Coaching


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Reverse pyramid coaching (RPT) is a method of coaching that entails utilizing heavier weights and decrease reps to your first set of an train and lighter weights and better reps in later units. 

For instance, for those who’re bench urgent, an RPT exercise would possibly appear to be this: 

Set 1: 225 x 3 reps

Set 2: 205 x 5 reps

Set 3: 185 x 8 reps

RPT is commonly touted as an efficient means to assist inexperienced persons enhance their energy, intermediates blast by way of lifting plateaus, and superior weightlifters ring out the final of their genetic potential for muscle and energy achieve.

Is it as efficient as many gurus declare, although, or is it simply one other viable coaching technique amongst many? 

On this article you’ll be taught what reverse pyramid coaching is, the advantages and downsides of RPT coaching, one of the best reverse pyramid coaching exercises for mass, and extra!


What Is Reverse Pyramid Coaching?

Reverse pyramid coaching (RPT) is a method of coaching wherein you do the primary set of an train with heavy weights in a low rep vary (often known as your “prime” set), then do every subsequent set with progressively lighter weights and better reps. 

Right here’s how this would possibly search for three units of the squat:

  • Set 1: 4-to-6 reps with 265 kilos
  • Set 2: 6-to-8 reps with 240 kilos
  • Set 3: 8-to-10 reps with 215 kilos

You’ll additionally see many RPT coaching applications give particular rep targets for every set as an alternative of rep ranges as I’ve proven right here, however I desire the latter strategies for causes you’ll see in a second.

Most RPT coaching applications embrace three exercises per week, and in an RPT exercise, you usually . . .

  • Solely use a “reverse pyramid” for the primary one or two compound workouts (then straight units for the remaining workouts)
  • Cut back the burden by ~10% per set to your RPT workouts
  • Do three units of every train
  • Do three-to-four workouts





Reverse Pyramid Coaching vs. Pyramid Coaching

Conventional pyramid coaching is the precise reverse of RPT: you do the primary set of an train utilizing mild weights in a excessive rep vary and progress to heavier weights and decrease rep ranges with each subsequent set.

Right here’s how this would possibly search for three units of the squat:

The draw back of conventional pyramid coaching is that you just carry out your heaviest, most fatiguing, and arguably most vital set when your muscle groups are already considerably drained. This impairs your efficiency on the units which might be more likely to have the largest impression in your progress.

Reverse Pyramid Coaching vs. Straight Units

Straight units contain lifting the identical quantity of weight and aiming for a similar variety of reps in your entire units for every train.

Right here’s how this would possibly search for three units of the squat:

Offered you employ a method corresponding to double development to get progressively stronger over time, straight units are a easy and efficient strategy to construct muscle and energy, particularly for those who’re comparatively new to weightlifting (that’s why it’s the tactic I advocate in my health books for women and men, Larger Leaner Stronger and Thinner Leaner Stronger).

As such, most well-designed RPT routines use straight units for the one-to-two workouts that come after the reverse pyramid units in every RPT exercise.

That’s loads of coaching terminology to soak up, so here’s a diagram that illustrates how every of those coaching strategies differs: 

Reverse Pyramid Training vs. Traditional and Straight

The Advantages of Reverse Pyramid Coaching

1. It prioritizes your heavy units.

Analysis exhibits that lifting heavy weights is one of the best ways to get robust and is probably a little bit higher for muscle progress than lifting lighter weights.

That’s why you need to at all times prioritize heavy weightlifting over faffing round with lighter weights.

RPT has you doing all of your heaviest units once you’re feeling freshest, which helps enhance your efficiency. 

What’s extra, going into an RPT exercise that you just solely ever have two heavy units to do: the primary set of your first and second train.

This offers many individuals a psychological enhance as a result of they know they solely need to abdomen a few actually intense units earlier than the weights lower, the rep ranges enhance, and the remainder of the exercise turns into duck soup.

2. It stimulates all three muscle-building “pathways.”

There are three main elements concerned in stimulating muscle progress:

  • Progressive rigidity overload
  • Muscle injury
  • Mobile fatigue

Of the three, progressive rigidity overload is a very powerful, and refers to progressively rising rigidity ranges within the muscle fibers by lifting progressively heavier weights over time. 

Muscle injury refers to wreck precipitated to the muscle fibers by excessive ranges of rigidity. This injury necessitates restore, and if the physique is supplied with correct diet and relaxation, it should develop the fibers to higher cope with future stimuli.

Mobile fatigue refers to pushing muscle fibers to their metabolic limits by performing an motion repeatedly.

You possibly can consider these three elements as separate progress “pathways.” That’s, you possibly can goal every in coaching to trigger various levels of hypertrophy.

RPT has you hitting all three pathways of hypertrophy: By emphasizing heavy lifting, you’re emphasizing progressive rigidity and muscle injury, and by together with higher-rep coaching you’re including metabolic stress and fatigue. In concept, this ends in most stimulation for each energy and hypertrophy.

3. It’s time-efficient.

Most RPT applications embrace three full-body exercises per week, and every exercise incorporates simply three-to-four workouts. This implies you’ll probably spend lower than three hours within the gymnasium every week, which is much lower than many different fashionable bodybuilding routines.

The draw back of this, nevertheless, is RPT in all probability doesn’t embrace sufficient quantity (units and reps) every week for intermediate or superior weightlifters to progress optimally. For them, it pays to comply with a routine that features extra exercises, workouts, and units every week, which inevitably means you must spend extra time within the gymnasium.

The Drawbacks of Reverse Pyramid Coaching

1. It’s unnecessarily intense.

Most RPT coaching applications encourage you to coach to or very near muscle failure (the purpose at which you’ll be able to’t full a rep regardless of giving most effort) in your first set of every train. This isn’t a requirement of RPT, per se, nevertheless it’s essentially the most foolproof strategy to progress on most of those applications.

This, RPT aficionados say, is the place the muscle- and strength-building magic of RPT occurs.

The science, nevertheless, doesn’t agree.

A number of research present that coaching to failure isn’t mandatory and will even be counterproductive. That’s, it doesn’t aid you construct extra muscle or achieve extra energy than coaching simply shy of failure, nevertheless it’ll probably go away you feeling overwhelmed up, overtrained, and peeved by your program.

You possibly can simply negate this downside by following a well-designed RPT coaching program that features rep ranges that have you ever coaching one-to-three reps wanting failure, which analysis exhibits is the “candy spot” for constant muscle progress with out sporting your self out.

2. It’s not beginner-friendly.

Whenever you’re new to weightlifting, your physique is primed to construct muscle. A lot so as to maximize muscle progress with rudimentary programming. 

At this stage, utilizing extra superior methods corresponding to RPT makes your coaching unnecessarily advanced and is extra distracting than useful.

As you simply noticed, RPT applications additionally often contain taking a number of units to muscular failure, which is detrimental to inexperienced persons as a result of being overly fatigued makes studying new abilities, corresponding to find out how to bench press with correct kind, harder. 

Given that the majority inexperienced persons shall be frazzled after their first set of an RPT exercise, their kind on every subsequent set could skid, which will increase the probabilities that they’ll ingrain unhealthy method and will enhance their danger of harm.

3. It’s in all probability not any higher than coaching with straight units.

The idea behind RPT seems to be cogent on paper, however there’s presently no scientific analysis to show it’s superior to conventional exercise programming in apply.

That doesn’t imply it isn’t, after all, but when analysis on conventional pyramid coaching is something to go by, there’s purpose to be skeptical of the supremacy of RPT.

For instance, research routinely present that conventional pyramid coaching isn’t any simpler for constructing muscle and gaining energy than straight set coaching. 

Whereas this doesn’t essentially imply RPT is a busted flush, it does make you surprise if there’s actually any advantage of various your rep ranges for a specific train inside a exercise (I doubt there’s).

When you perceive the physiology of muscle progress, too, you then rapidly notice that rep ranges on the whole aren’t overly vital, which casts doubt on the efficacy of RPT coaching (which is fully based mostly on various the reps and weights used for a specific train in a exercise).

The Greatest Reverse Pyramid Coaching Routine for Mass and Hypertrophy

The next is a full-body reverse pyramid coaching routine that features three exercises per week. Every exercise consists of two RPT workouts and two “accent” workouts.

For the RPT workouts, use the ascending rep ranges proven within the desk, and for the accent workouts, use straight units.

Reverse Pyramid Training Routine

Find out how to Progress in RPT Exercises

1. Heat up earlier than every exercise.

Doing an intensive heat up earlier than your first train in every exercise . . .

  • Helps you troubleshoot your kind and “groove in” correct method
  • Prepares your muscle groups to your heavy units, which might enhance your efficiency and thus muscle and energy achieve over time

Whenever you do an RPT exercise, you don’t have to heat up earlier than each train. 

As an alternative, an intensive heat up earlier than your first train in every exercise ought to adequately put together you for the remainder of your exercise.

(And don’t fear about having to do a heat up for a lower-body train on the finish of a exercise once you’ve in any other case solely completed upper-body workouts. By that time your physique needs to be lots heat from all of the transferring round you’ve completed within the gymnasium that day, so there’s no have to do extra warm-up units.)

Whenever you do heat up for an RPT exercise, right here’s the protocol you need to comply with:

  • Estimate roughly what weight you’re going to make use of to your first set of the primary train (that is your “prime set” weight).
  • Do 6 reps with about 50% of your prime set weight, and relaxation for a minute.
  • Do 4 reps with about 70% of your prime set weight, and relaxation for a minute.

And that’s it—you’re prepared to begin your RPT exercise.

2. When you hit the highest of your rep vary, transfer up in weight.

There are two forms of development in RPT coaching: one to your reverse pyramid units and one to your accent workouts (the workouts that come after the primary two workouts in every RPT exercise).

In each circumstances, the objective is to extend the burden you carry when you hit the highest of your rep vary. 

The distinction is that in your reverse pyramid units, you progress every set independently, whereas for accent workouts, you progress once you hit the highest of your rep vary for one set.

To make sense of this, let’s have a look at some examples beginning with reverse pyramid development.

Reverse Pyramid Development

Let’s say week one among your RPT program requires the next on the bench press:

Throughout your exercise, you handle this:

In units one and three you didn’t hit the highest of your goal rep vary, so that you’ll use the identical weights for these units in week two. Nevertheless, in set two you did hit the highest of your rep vary, so you need to add 5 kilos to every facet of the bar (10 kilos whole) within the second set of the bench press in your subsequent exercise.

Right here’s how your weight and rep targets would look in week two:

Now let’s think about you probably did week two’s exercise and also you managed the next:

In units one and three you hit the highest of your goal rep vary, so you need to add 5 kilos to every facet of the bar (10 kilos whole) within the first and third set of bench press in your subsequent exercise. In set two you didn’t hit the highest of your goal rep vary, so that you’ll use the identical weight for this set in week three.

And right here’s what your weight and rep targets would appear to be in week three:

You’ll proceed progressing every set like this, rising the burden after which reps independently in every set. 

Observe: Different RPT applications base the weights you employ within the second and third units on a share of the burden you used within the first. This usually entails lowering the primary set weight by ~10% to get the second set weight and lowering the second set weight by ~10% to get the thirst set weight. That isn’t mandatory for this program, although, since you identify your weights based mostly on what number of reps you are feeling you will get relatively than a selected share of your top-set weight.

Accent Train Development

Progressing your accent workouts works the identical means as your first two workouts, besides you employ one rep vary as an alternative of three.

As an illustration, let’s say your exercise requires 8-to-10 reps of the lat pulldown. In the event you get 10 reps on one set, add 10 kilos to your subsequent set and work with that weight till you possibly can (ultimately) carry it for 10 reps, and so forth.

In the event you get 8 or fewer reps together with your new (increased) weight in your subsequent units, scale back the burden by 5 kilos to make sure you can keep inside your goal rep vary (8-to-10) for all units.

3. Finish each set 1-to-2 reps shy of muscle failure.

To be able to maximize muscle and energy beneficial properties, it is advisable take most of your units shut (however not all the way in which) to muscle failure.

To make sure you’re taking your units shut sufficient to failure, ask your self this query on the finish of every set, simply earlier than re-racking the burden: “If I completely needed to, what number of extra reps might I get with good kind?”

If the reply is greater than two, then you need to enhance the burden or reps in step with the development tips above. This ensures you’re together with the correct amount of depth in your RPT coaching.

If the reply is one or much less, then you need to have re-racked the burden one rep sooner.

4. Relaxation at the very least 2-to-3 minutes between units.

This can give your muscle groups sufficient time to completely recoup their energy so that you may give most effort every set.

That stated, for those who’re feeling gassed between heavy units of compound workouts just like the squat or deadlift, it’s in all probability greatest to relaxation a little bit longer—wherever from 3-to-5 minutes ought to do the trick.

5. Take the best dietary supplements. 

Sadly, no quantity of tablets and powders are going to automagically aid you achieve muscle or energy.

Actually, most muscle-building dietary supplements are fully nugatory.

However right here’s the excellent news:

If find out how to eat and practice to construct muscle, sure dietary supplements can pace up the method. (And for those who’d prefer to know precisely what dietary supplements to take to succeed in your health targets, take the Legion Complement Finder Quiz.)

Listed below are one of the best dietary supplements for supporting your RPT exercises:

  • 0.8-to-1.2 grams of protein per pound of physique weight per day. This gives your physique with the “constructing blocks” it must construct and restore muscle tissue and aid you recuperate out of your exercises. If you need a clear, handy, and scrumptious supply of protein, strive Whey+ or Casein+.
  • 3-to-5 grams of creatine per day. This can enhance muscle and energy achieve, enhance anaerobic endurance, and scale back muscle injury and soreness out of your exercises. If you need a 100% pure supply of creatine that additionally consists of two different components that can assist enhance muscle progress and enhance restoration, strive Recharge.
  • One serving of Pulse per day. Pulse is a 100% pure pre-workout drink that enhances power, temper, and focus; will increase energy and endurance; and reduces fatigue. You may as well get Pulse with caffeine or with out.

FAQ #1: Is reverse pyramid coaching efficient?


Primarily based on analysis on conventional pyramid coaching, RPT probably isn’t any higher or worse for constructing muscle and gaining energy than straight set coaching.

That stated, it’s extra time-efficient than many different applications, so it is perhaps higher for you when you have little time to coach. Plus, you would possibly take pleasure in it extra for those who’re uninterested in utilizing straight units in your exercises.

Nevertheless, for those who’re new to weightlifting, RPT in all probability isn’t as efficient as extra conventional approaches to coaching as a result of it’s unnecessarily advanced and intense.

FAQ #2: Can I exploit reverse pyramid coaching for fats loss?

Sure, you should use reverse pyramid coaching for fats loss.

Actually, energy coaching has a number of distinctive advantages that make it notably efficient for dropping fats.

Nevertheless, if you wish to maximize the fat-burning and muscle-building results of energy coaching, you must know find out how to food regimen.

And for those who’d prefer to know precisely what food regimen to comply with to lose fats, take the Legion Food regimen Quiz and in lower than a minute, you’ll know precisely what food regimen is best for you. Click on right here to test it out.

FAQ #3: Can I exploit reverse pyramid coaching for hypertrophy?

Sure, you should use reverse pyramid coaching for hypertrophy, nevertheless it in all probability isn’t any higher than conventional straight-set coaching.

It additionally isn’t optimum for people who find themselves new to weightlifting as a result of it’s unnecessarily advanced, and it entails loads of coaching to failure, which received’t enhance your outcomes and will ingrain unhealthy method and enhance your danger of harm.

FAQ #4: Are the reverse pyramid coaching outcomes you see on-line sensible?

A few of them is perhaps, however likely aren’t.

Lots of the individuals who submit reverse pyramid coaching outcomes footage on social media and web blogs use flattering poses, lighting legerdemain, and digital retouching to make their progress look extra spectacular than it truly is.

Oh, and given the prevalence of steroid use, there’s additionally a superb probability lots of the our bodies you see in essentially the most hanging “after” images owe extra to extracurricular supplementation than the “influencer’s” #dedication within the gymnasium.

+ Scientific References


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