Reverse Pyramid Training

Turn Your Pyramid Upside Down

In this post I’m going to be talking about the most effective training method to creating a lean, dense, naturally muscular frame, with great strength! I believe this is the simplest and most effective way to train, yet hardly anyone uses this method. But it’s not your fault. Just about all the workout routines you’ve read about or seen on TV, are pretty much opposite of what I’m going to write about today. Before I go into the details of Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT), let’s go over how most people train.

Typical Training Session

Example: Incline Bench Press

  1. A few warm up sets (flat bench press)
  2. 1st working set 135 lbs for 12 reps, 2nd set 165 lbs for 10 reps, 3rd set 185 lbs for 8 reps, 4th set 205 lbs for 6 reps, 5th set 225 lbs for 4 reps
  3. Pick another chest exercise and repeat

Problems Training in This Fashion

  1. Lifting Heavy with Fatigued Muscles. You spent the majority of your strength on all your build up sets. You worked fatigued your muscles before you got to the heavy weight. Do you think lifting 225 lbs for 4 reps or 225 lbs for 6 reps is going to help you build stronger, more dense muscle? You get the point! So why fatigue your muscle before you get to the heavy weights?
  2. Lack of Progression. Strength progression is going to account for the majority of lean, dense muscle you are trying to build. Remember, as natural lifters, we need to progressively get stronger over time in order to build quality dense muscle. There is no other other way around it.
  3. The False Sense of the Pump. You can get a good muscular pump when training in the above manner. And the pump can feel like a great thing. Your muscles are engorged with blood, they look full, and you feel like you had a great workout. But here at Dapper Fitness, we want to build dense muscle. That requires more than just a pump style workout. We need to build great strength and there is a much more suitable way to do that.

Say Hello to Reverse Pyramid Training

Reverse Pyramid Training will solve all the issues above and be more effective than any training method you have done. Whether you are a newbie, have years of training under your belt, or have plateaued, RPT will get the ball rolling again.

RPT Image

How to Use RPT

  1. Build up to your heaviest set without creating muscular fatigue. With RPT you’ll be lifting your heaviest set first while your muscles are strong and fresh. This means you can lift heavy weights with more power than your previous training style allowed. For safety reasons, you still need to warm up before your heavy set. I recommend 2-3 warm-up sets. I like to use around 50% of my 1st heavy set for 4-6 reps, then 70% for 3-4 reps, then 1 rep with 90% of my first heavy set’s weight.
  2. With reverse pyramid training you’re only performing your heaviest set once. Simple! One heavy set is all the doc prescribed. The goal for that one all out set is to take yourself to the absolute limit of your capabilities. If you push yourself on that one set, you won’t be able to do another set to that degree. The best part of lifting in this way is you only have to mentally prepare for one HARD set. It is mentally invigorating versus multiple grinding, fatiguing sets that hinder your strength gains. That one set will kick your butt, but you won’t fatigue your system too much, so you can continue to make progressive strength gain. Remember, that is the goal!
  3. After the heavy set, you follow up with two progressively lighter sets. Lifting a heavy weight requires near maximal muscle fiber stimulation from the very first rep, so now your system is geared up and ready to fire all your muscle fibers for the remaining sets. All the remaining lighter sets you do will promote more muscle growth than if you did them beforehand, due to your body being revved up and ready to go! For the two remaining sets I recommend dropping the weight by about 10% for your second set and an additional 10% for your third set. Rest at least 2-3 minutes between these sets. Your goal is two additional reps every time you drop the weight by 10%. So if you performed 4 reps on your heavy set, shoot for 6 reps on your second set and 8 reps on your third set.

Example: Incline Bench Press (#s from my last workout)

  1. A few warm up sets (flat bench press) 5/3/1 as described above
  2. 1st working set 205 lbs for 4 reps, 2nd set 185 lbs for 6 reps, 3rd set 170 lbs for 8 reps. That’s all she wrote folks!
  3. Repeat for my next exercise

In a future article I will cover the best exercises for RPT training, and workout design.

It’s That Simple

Reverse pyramid training is the most effective training method I have found, especially for the goals of a Dapper Fit body. You do your heaviest lifting while you’re fresh and strong. Lifting RPT will help you realize how incredibly strong you can become and help build dense muscle. I attribute 90% of my muscle strength and gains to reverse pyramid training over the last year. Go give it a try for yourself and see! Be prepared to feel like Hulk and turn green after your lifts.

Be Fit. Dress Great!


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