What is Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT)?
Reverse Pyramid Training or RPT, is a style of training I’ve quickly grown to love. I’m now a 2 weeks or so in, and feeling pretty good about myself. My lifts have gone up in every area and I feel pretty strong.
It largely goes against traditional body building methods – Normally, you might start with a weight you can do 10 reps with, then progressively ramp up your weight and reduce the number of reps as you go heavier.
This is where Reverse Pyramid Training is different and will see you starting your HEAVIEST weights on your first set (after a very light warmup).
If your goal is increased mass and strength, this might be THE technique you’ve been looking for. (I’ll be tracking my own results over coming months and reporting back on my own experiences).
Train hard, not long
The beauty of Reverse Pyramid Training, is that you’ll spend less time in the gym (about an hour), and more time focusing on the important sh*t like ‘intensity’, ‘recovery’, ‘sleeping 8 hours a night’ and learning how to shave your genitals with a cut-throat.
Reverse Pyramid Training not just for the advanced
You can attempt this style of training if you’re intermediate or just starting out (although I’d recommend a spotter wherever possible). Your recovery times will also differ depending on how long you’ve been training.
I’d also recommend you get your diet in check first.
This leads me to…
RPT is taxing on the Central Nervous System. For this very reason, you’ll need plenty of big, real whole foods.
Supplement with protein, oils, fiber and vitamins where necessary, but try and eat REAL food 90% of the time.
My current RPT workout
Ok, so the nitty gritty.
Below I’ll show you how I’m currently Reverse Pyramid Training. The number of days and exercises can change depending on your needs as my approach is more on the advanced side of things. This setup also caters for a session where you’ll train your entire body on the first training day as well as a ‘specialisation’ training day where you can hit lagging body parts.
RPT Training structure
Using bench press as an example exercise, below is how each of the sets will be structured.
|1 (warmup)||60kg x 8||Make sure this weight is around 50% of your maximum. We don’t want to fatigue your muscles here.|
|2 (warmup)||70kg x 8||Second warmup set – Still light as per reasons above.|
|3 (MAX weight)||120kg x 3-5||This is your heaviest set. Add 10% to what you can normally lift. You’ll be surprised at your strength. Go to failure if you can but use a spotter.|
|4 (Ramp down)||107.5kg x 6-8||Shed 10% of the weight an bust out more reps than the last set. (Don’t go to failure – leave one in the tank).|
|5 (Ramp down)||95kg x 9-10||Shed 10% and bust out more reps than the previous set. Again, don’t go to failure.|
|6 (Ramp down)||85kg x 10-12||Shed 10% once more and bust out even more reps. No failure here either.|
NOTE: As you can see, this is a lot of volume to do for just one exercise. This is why you’ll only be doing around 4 RPT exercises per 1 hour training session.
Day 1 (Monday) – Full body
Here we’ll work quads, back, chest, shoulders and abs.
|Leg Press||4 + 2 warmup (RPT)|
|Lat Pull-downs||4 + 2 warmup (RPT)|
|Bench Press||4 + 2 warmup (RPT)|
|Barbell Curls||3 x 8 (Same weight)|
|French Press||3 x 8 (Same weight)|
|Weighted Lying Leg Raises||3 x 12 (Same weight)|
Day 2 (Tuesday) – Chest/Shoulders
Today is all about targeting your chest and shoulders with a little bit of trap work.
|Incline Chest Press||4 + 2 warmup (RPT)|
|Weighted Dips||4 (RPT)|
|Standing Military Press||4 (RPT)|
|Shrugs or Lateral Raises||2 x 12 (Same weight)|
|Ab-Wheel Roll-out + 2min Plank||3 x 12 (Same weight) (1 set for plank)|
Day 3 (Thursday) – Legs/Back
This day will absolutely hammer you. Some big exercises here.
|Squats/ Dead Lifts (Alternate each week)||4 + 2 warmup (RPT)|
|Calf raises (seated)||4 x 20 (Same weight)|
|Weighted Pull-ups||4 (RPT)|
|One-arm Dumb Bell Row||3 x 12 (Same weight)|
|Hanging Leg Raises (straight legs)||3 x 20|
Day 4 (Friday) – Specialisation (in this case arms)
Choose a lagging muscle group or one that you want to give extra focus to.
|Rope Tricep Pull-downs||4 + 2 warmup (RPT)|
|Close-Grip Bench Press||4 (RPT)|
|Preacher Barbell Curl||4 (RPT)|
|Alternating Dumb Bell Curls||3 x 10 (Same weight)|
|Renegade Rows + 2min plank||3 x 12 (1 set for plank)|
|1||Make sure you get at least 2 mins of rest after your first MAX set.|
|2||Less is more. There’s a tendency to want to add in more exercises and sets. Don’t.|
|3||I add in abdominal exercises on each training day that concentrate on core strength. These will serve you well on compound movements. You’ll be one strong-ass mother f*cker.|
|4||Like I’ve said – this style of training is TAXING. Get your sleep and eat properly.|
The wrap up
Training heavy in the least amount of time whilst stimulating the most muscle fibers at once is what it’s all about.
You’ll really be surprised as to how much MORE you can lift on your max sets when you hit them up first thing.
If you’re looking to bust that plateau and increase your lifts, this might just be what you’re looking for.
Editor’s Note: Ever dabbled in Reverse Pyramid Training? Comment below.