T Nation

Straight Sets or Reverse/Descending Pyramid?

I’ve been using a reverse/descending pyramid set structure in my routine for a long time now. I do 4 sets per exercise as follows: 6/8/10/12. The weight reduces by 10% each set but the reps increase by 2. I originally moved to this structure as I felt that it would allow me to use heavier weights seeing as I dont have to stick with the same weight for all of the sets (as would be the case with straight sets). It almost felt as though I was lifting sub maximally with straight sets. Using Dumbbell bench press for example, with only having one true heavy set of 6 reps I’d be able to use at least 10 more pounds than I would when using straight sets, due to the fact that with straight sets I’m having to leave a couple of reps in the tank each set to make sure I manage to get them all on the following sets.

My issue recently though is that I’ve started wondering if straight sets ARE actually the better set/rep structure, and I hope you guys can provide some input to help me clear this up. Sure, straight sets have you lifting a sub maximal weight (I.e. lower than what you’re actually capable of), but perhaps they can help you to progress at the correct length of time. The problem I’ve sometimes had with RPT sets is that I manage to progress extremely quickly, almost to the point of being TOO fast before my form, joints, etc have been properly optimised. With straight sets I’d be using a specific weight for a longer period of time and 4 sets worth instead of just 1 set as would be the case with RPT.

For example, making sure you get all 4 sets of 6 reps with a certain weight (straight sets) seems like it’d be a better indicator that you’re ready to progress as opposed to just 1 set of 6 reps (RPT).

If you guys could provide some insight as to which you feel is the better method it’d be much appreciated. Something is telling me that straight sets may be the better option but for some reason I just cant get over the fact that you’re using sub maximal weights only to “keep a couple of reps in the tank” as opposed to pushing yourself as much as possible.

A post was merged into an existing topic: Switching from Reverse Pyramid to Normal Pyramid?