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. I’m 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 superset. 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.
At the end of each exercise (with the exception of dead lifts and squats) you are to do a simple 20-30 rep superset. There is no rest between your 4th set and this superset. 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
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:
40x as many as you can
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.
For more information on dieting and workout tips, visit 3Js Website at www.3jsdiet.com.