3J"s Reverse Pyramid Training Philosophy

3J

Super Moderator


One of the most common questions I get regularly when working with clients is should I train low volume and heavy weight or high volume and light weight? The question is reasonable because that has been the gold standard of bodybuilding for a long time. The usual approach is to do more low volume training when bulking and more high volume training when cutting. Broscience has made this approach very acceptable, but im here to say that it is the not the most optimal way one can train. My answer to this question is to do BOTH. Im a strong advocate of reverse pyramid training. In this article I will give an example of a basic and simple to follow reverse pyramid training philosophy that you can follow. No scientific mumo jumo, just straight and simple facts to help you get on this type of workout routine.

Reverse pyramid training starts with a warm up set, a over load set, two follow up sets and a dropset. I will discuss each one specifically to make sure you get a good grip on how this works. The first thing I will tell you is that all sets are to failure. It may take some time to figure out the weight that is correct for the specific exercise but that is a part of the game. Keeping a log of your workouts and the weight you use is critical!

Secondly your to have no more than 45 seconds rest between sets and 1 minute rest between exercises. There are exceptions to this with dead lifts and squats which allow up to 1 1/2 minutes between sets. I will give an example of a 5 day workout split, which is what I recommend.

The warm up set

This is simple and obvious. The warm up set is the most important set of the exercise. It prepares your body for the chaos your about to bring upon it. When warming up, take your time with your reps. Do your warm up slowly, focusing on being a bit more explosive on the flexation and coming down slow on the negative. This explosive flexation and slow negative should be done in every rep of every set of every exercise. The recommended warm up set is usually 15 reps. You should be failing at the 15th rep, so do some experimentation and figure out what weight to use.

The overload set

Here is where you fatigue your muscle with a set that is about 85-90% the weight of your max on the exercise. This causes your muscles to quickly reach a point of failure. The reps of this set should be about 4-5 MAX. It may take you some time to figure out what the correct weight for this target rep range is. As I said before, it takes some experimentation to figure out what this weight may be so be patient with the process.

The follow up sets

The next two sets are where you do all that lovely damage to your muscles so they can repair themselves and grow. There are two philosophies i follow in the follow up sets. I will either do two 8 rep sets or a 6 rep set and then a 8 rep set. Again, these sets are to failure so you must find the weight that will work for your target rep range. Always remember to be explosive on the way up and slow on your negative.

Dropset

At the end of each exercise (with the exception of dead lifts and squats) you are to do a simple 20-30 rep dropset. There is no rest between your 4th set and this dropset. Take a light weight and try to do 20 to 30 reps. Again be explosive on the flex and slow on the negative. Your arm day has a specific reverse pyramid superset I will detail in the workout routine.



The workout routine:


Day 1 Chest

Flat bench press 15, 4, 6, 8, 20

Incline bench press 15, 4, 8, 8, 20

Decline bench press 15, 4, 8, 8, 20

Flat bench flys 20, 20, 20



Day 2 Back

Bent over single hand rows 15, 4, 6, 8, 20

Wide grip pull downs 15, 4, 6, 8, 20

Narrow grip rows 15, 4, 6, 8, 20

Dead lifts 15, 4, 6, 8



Day 3 Shoulders

Military press 15, 4, 8, 8, 20

Side lateral raises 15, 4, 8, 8, 20

Front lateral raises 15, 4, 8, 8, 20

Shrugs 20, 15, 20



Day 4 Legs

Squats 15, 4, 6, 8

Leg extensions 15, 4, 6, 8

Leg curls 15, 4, 6, 8

Calf raises 20, 20, 20



Day 5 Arms

Bicepss

Dumbbell bicep curls 15, 4, 6, 8

Dumbbell hammer curls 15, 4, 6, 8

Ez bar bicep curls 15, 4, 6, 8

Straight bar cable system curls reverse pyramid super set:

Find the highest weight your can do 4 reps at. That is your starting point. Work your way down in weight on the cable machine doing 4 reps per set without any rest in between. Be sure to give yourself 1 min rest from your last exercise. Below is an example of it starting at 200lbs:

200×4

180×4

160×4

140×4

120×4

100×4

80×4

60×4

40x as many as you can

Triceps

Skull crushers 15, 4, 6, 8

Machine tricep exercise 15, 4, 6, 8 OR overhead tricep extensions (both hands using a dumbbell) 15, 4, 6, 8

Cable system Y rope tricep pull downs 15, 4, 6, 8

Cable system Y rope tricep reverse pyramid superset (yes, it is the same exercise as before, 1 min rest in between)



Find the highest weight your can do 4 reps at. That is your starting point. Work your way down in weight on the cable machine doing 4 reps per set without any rest in between. Be sure to give yourself 1 min rest from your last exercise. Below is an example of it starting at 200 lbs:

200 x 4

180 x 4

160 x 4

140 x 4

120 x 4

100 x 4

80 x 4

60 x 4

40 x as many as you can

I hope that this layout of the 3J version of a reverse pyramid routine is helpful to you. This training program is one that I use regularly with my clients with great success.
 
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Ocean Rhino

Professional Bodybreaker
I am just gonna go ahead and tag this, changing up the program after my sixth run of 5-3-1 doubles. Strength is through the roof, but need to do some beach muscles for the summer. Thanks 3J!
 

louman

New member
So you hit failure on your warm up set?
Also on back do you say narrow rows, is this narrow barbell, tbar, cable? What row variation?
 

3J

Super Moderator
yup... failing at 15 reps shouldn't cause any issues..

i use narrow barbell
 

Norsegod

Gym=My Drug
I'm going to give this a shot after my shoulder is finished heading. I do a lot of super sets with heavy weight so this is right up my alley, but enough of a change to shock the muscles. Thanks 3j. You are the man.
 

BulletWoods

Chairman of the Bored
I have been doing....
Day 1: Chest/shoulders/obliques
Day 2: Bi/Tri/Back/Abs
Day 3: Legs
Day 4: Chest/shoulders/obliques
Day 5: Bi/Tri/Back/Abs

I am losing one day a week to work out and have never done the single body part per day approach. If I can only get 4 days in the gym, what would you suggest pairing together? Thanks for any input!
 

3J

Super Moderator
Too easy. Combine the shoulder and leg day
I have been doing....
Day 1: Chest/shoulders/obliques
Day 2: Bi/Tri/Back/Abs
Day 3: Legs
Day 4: Chest/shoulders/obliques
Day 5: Bi/Tri/Back/Abs

I am losing one day a week to work out and have never done the single body part per day approach. If I can only get 4 days in the gym, what would you suggest pairing together? Thanks for any input!
 

BulletWoods

Chairman of the Bored
Too easy. Combine the shoulder and leg day

Thanks for the response. Can you build pretty decent mass with only hitting body parts one day per week? I always feel like I am not getting enough in with only one day per week.
 

AlphaDawg

New member
I've been using the warm up set and the overload set in my last two workouts. It had me reaching failure. Next I'll incorporate the drop set after because it sounds like what I need.
 

hiram1st

New member
Never done this type of workout before. Followed it to the letter and have never felt a pump like this.

Thanks,

Your pain in th ass
 

olivierf57

New member
Excepted for the arms workout, it seems that each workout is very short ? I didn't try it but I would say about 30-35mn to finish one workout ?

Do you thing it's enough ? I used to do an 1h-1h15 workout 4x/week
 
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