First off, I’m not the one who named it. I’m not sure who “invented” it, but what inspired me to take it up was leangains.com, which recommend RPT along with an Intermittent Fasting diet.
Honestly, I’m not sure why it’s called Reverse Pyramid Training. As far as I know, Pyramid Training has been around a while (I remember doing it in college back in the 80′s) and consists of starting light, going up, and then coming back down. So Pryamid Training might look like:
- Set 1: 135×10
- Set 2: 175×8
- Set 3: 200×5
- Set 4: 175×7
- Set 5: 135×9
If you were to chart these weights out it would – you got it – look like a pyramid.
So you’d expect Reverse Pyramid Training to be the opposite: start heavy, go lighter, then go back up again. But that’s not the case. Reverse Pyramid Training, at least according to the LeanGains page I referenced above, means starting heavy, and then going down. So it’s only one “side” of a reversed pyramid. Weird, huh?
Semantics aside, Reverse Pyramid Traing (RPT henceforth) is doing 1 heavy set, followed by 2 drop sets, with each drop set being a 10-15% additional reduction in weight from the first set. Typical target reps are 6-8 for the first set, 8-10 for the second, and 10-12 for the third.
Now most people – ok, me – are always looking for an easier way to do things. Rep range? To complicated. Calculating percentages? Strains my brain. So when I’m starting a new cycle, I drop 10% based on first set weight to establish my working weights and aim for 6, 7, and 8 reps respectively. It’s easier to see it written out.
- Set 1: 200 x 6
- Set 2: 180 (200 – 10%) x 7
- Set 3: 160 (200 – 20%) x 8
Now the way I work progression is easy: if I hit my target reps, I go up 5 pounds on the next workout for that set. The 10% calculation goes out the window.
Let’s use the example above. If that’s how my bench workout went (for example), the weights for my next workout would be:
- Set 1: 205 (+5)
- Set 2: 185 (+5)
- Set 3: 165 (+5)
But let’s say that workout, rep-wise, went like this:
- Set 1: 205 x 5
- Set 2: 185 x 7
- Set 3: 165 x 8
Since I didn’t hit my target 6 reps on the first set, I would keep it the same for my next workout. But since I hit my target on sets 2 and 3, I’d increase the weight for those sets. So the weights for my next workout would look like:
- Set 1: 205 (same)
- Set 2: 190 (+5)
- Set 3: 170 (+5)
And that’s how I would move forward from then on. Each time I hit my rep target, I go up 5 pounds for the next workout, with each set being treated independently of the one before it. I no longer use a percentage calculation; I calculate based off my performance.
No rep range, no more percentages, the weight for each set calculated independently. Hit your 6, 7, or 8 rep target, you go up the next workout. Don’t hit it, stay where you’re at.
Simple as that!