I started off training with straight sets for several years, and around 4-5 months back I began using reverse pyramid training (RPT).
The reason for this is, I was concerned that by doing straight sets on an exercise it would only work the muscles through a certain rep range, let’s say 6-8 reps per set for example. I figured by using RPT I’d be able to hit the best rep range per exercise. So taking Bench Press for example, with straight sets I’d do 4 sets of 6-8 reps.
With RPT I’d be starting with 6 reps on the first set, lowering the weight by 10% and then doing 8 reps on the next set. I’d carry on until my last set was 12 reps. So it’d be 4 sets consisting of 6/8/10/12 reps.
This allows me to get a better range of reps done per exercise, so that I’m able to hit all the muscle fibers. Also, instead of tying progression to something like “increase the weight when you manage all 8 reps in all 4 sets” (in straight sets) I have instead tied progress to the first set (in RPT).
So when I manage to get 6 reps in my first set of RPT, I increase the weight next week. I did this because with straight sets, I find that having to get all 8 reps in all 4 sets almost becomes impossible for me to progress. I’ve had lifts stuck at the same weight for a couple of months on end because of this, but with tying progression to the 1st set (in RPT) I am able to overcome this.
Now my issue is, I don’t know if this is optimal. I don’t know whether I’d get better gains by carrying on like this, trying to get 6-12 reps in all exercises or just going back to straight sets. The problem I have with straight sets is that you are stuck to a certain rep range throughout the whole 4 sets of the exercise so I don’t know if all the muscle fibers get hit properly.
I’ve read certain things such as “There is no point ending an exercise with a high rep set (which I would of course be doing with RPT) because your body won’t get the benefit from the heavy weight used at the start… Because you end on high reps, it fools your body into thinking the progression is coming from the high reps”. Obviously I don’t know if this is true or not, but I was just wondering.
What do you guys think about straight sets vs RPT?