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Reverse Pyramid vs Straight Sets: Rep Range Difference?


#1

Hey guys,

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?


#2

I think you’re overthinking lifting weights. I personally believe, in the end, it doesn’t matter.
I’ve used everything from low frequency, high frequency, drop sets, supersets, crazy volume, low volume, blah blah blah. All of this really does for me, is give me new and fun ways to train so I am not doing the same thing year after year. That is really it.

For me, I have found that when it comes to the big exercises, like squats and bench, practice makes permanent, and everything else is just icing on the cake. Weather or not I am doing 8-12 reps or 5-6 reps is really arbitrary in my personal pursuit of being bigger and/or stronger. I have found that my body becomes trained to do specific things, if I do squats at sets of 20, I will get good at doing sets of 20. On the slip side, if I do singles and doubles, I get better at those. So, whatever I want to do, is what I do. For me, there is not an optimal thing, just different methods of training my body to do a specific task (like bench press a bar with weight on it). Muscles have always followed, regardless of method, because that has more to do with food anyway.

So, in other words-- I say do both while being consistent with one for awhile. Find something else when it stops working for you or you just get tired of doing it.


#3

In my experience, rep range has had minimal impact on the results that I achieve. Certain ones work better than others for certain movements (not going to try for a 1 rep max on band pull aparts), but as long as the effort and intensity are present, the amount of reps per set isn’t the biggest deal.

If this training is working for you, I’d say keep doing it.


#4

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
In my experience, rep range has had minimal impact on the results that I achieve. Certain ones work better than others for certain movements (not going to try for a 1 rep max on band pull aparts), but as long as the effort and intensity are present, the amount of reps per set isn’t the biggest deal.

If this training is working for you, I’d say keep doing it.[/quote]

Important question OP:

Is it working? Are you achieving your goals?


#5

As fatigue accumulates, most muscle fibers will eventually be activated and utilised. Using different rep ranges are a matter of training economy, since you don’t want to end up doing 50 sets of 3 reps per muscle group for sufficent volume.


#6

ramping up is something to try…


#7

Probably doesn’t matter, depends on a lot of variables anyways. Will say it feels for me, RPT while really fun is a bit harder to recover from. That can be a good or bad thing, and also depends if you’re doing AMRAP sets and the such.


#8

[quote]Vanch wrote:
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.
[/quote]

This is not true; it’s complete bullshit.

Also, read this: https://www.T-Nation.com/training/22-proven-rep-schemes