“Strong” Benefits of Reverse Pyramid Training

Reverse pyramid training (RPT) is great training option to use when looking to gain muscle size and strength. This type of program design features high-intensity sets but low volume workouts. Reverse pyramid training is simply a lifting style. RPT involves the heaviest weight used early in each overall sequence of sets for a particular muscle group. The reason this type of training works so well is because it takes advantage of a persons high energy level early in a workout. As a result, the muscles are not fatigued (yet) and, therefore, have the ability to handle heavier loads early in the workout. The idea is to do as many repetitions as possible (AMRAP) without going to failure during each set.

Reverse Training Pyramid Example

Here are a few examples of what an upper and lower body RPT would look like following an efficient warm-up. This would be an example for an intermediate lifter who is looking to build strength and hypertrophy. Rest between sets is approximately 2-3 minutes using a tempo of about 4-seconds/repetition, 2-seconds each for concentric and eccentric phase. Decrease the weight between subsequent sets by approximately 10-15 percent.


(*Perform 2-3 warm-up sets for each exercise*)

225 x 6

185 x 10

160 x 12


155 x 8

125 x 10

105 x 12


(*Perform 3 warm-up sets for each exercise*)

315 x 3

275 x 6

235 x 8


345 x 4

295 x 6

250 x 8

Research Review on Reverse Pyramid Training

There are few studies in the research literature that look at the benefits of RPT. But in that same breath, know that RPT is not better than traditional training. It offers you another training option but with a nice caveat – it can be used to help break through training plateaus. According to research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, training with repetitions around the 8-12 range allows for gains in muscle size compared to training with less repetitions, such as 2-4 repetitions, will elicit more of a strength gain. The outcome, as it relates to RPT, is the lifter receives both benefits (size and strength).

Changing Training Stimulus is Important in Reverse Pyramid Training

One way to bust through a training plateau is to change the training stimulus. This could be done by switching in/out exercises, changing repetitions, sets, or adjusting volume or rest between sets to name a few. This could also be a good time to add in RPT. Every few months, think about how changing things up a bit could benefit your overall program. Remember, the body continually adapts to the training stimulus provided. Your goal is to periodically measure how you are doing on the program, adjust, pivot if necessary, and continue to push through.

Newly Released RPT Program on the Jefit App

Please visit the Jefit app to download this free, beginner Reverse Pyramid Training program that accompanies this article. You can find it here. Thanks and Stay Strong with Jefit.

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