Since my introduction to the Iron Game over
20 years ago most of the articles, books and courses I’ve read advocated
“pyramiding” your weights on the basic exercises.
If you don’t know what “pyramiding” is,
here’s an example using the bench press...
Set 1: 12 reps with 135 lbs.
Set 2: 10
reps with 185 lbs.
Set 3: 8 reps with 225 lbs.
Set 4: 6 reps with 250
Set 5: 4 reps with 265 lbs.
Set 6: 2 reps with 285 lbs.
Even as a novice bodybuilder, after a few
weeks of pyramiding I thought that it was kinda stupid.
After all, if
the goal of doing all this work in the gym is to get stronger and bigger...
and we’re supposed to constantly strive for pushing more and more weight in
the basic exercises... then all this pyramiding stuff seemed to me to be a
lot of wasted energy on lighter unproductive sets.
Plus it seemed
like I would be able to do more weight on the heavier sets if I hadn’t have
burned up so much energy on the lighter sets.
Now I agree that
warming up is important... but geez... how “warm” do you wanna get? So warm
So I’ve discovered a better way. Well, it’s been
better for me. But who knows? It could work for you, too.
Pyramid System For
Maximum Strength & Muscle Mass Gains
instead of the pyramid thing let's try training on the bench press like
Warm-up Set 1: 20 reps with the empty bar
Get a little
blood flowing and work on your technique. Do these slowly like you really
have weight on there. Just don’t ask someone to spot you on this set lest
you look like a wuss.
Warm-up Set 2: 12 reps
Select a weight
in which you can EASILY complete 12 reps without even being remotely close
to temporary muscular failure. This is an easy set just to get you warmed
up. Do NOT select a weight which will tax the muscles.
Warm-up Set 3
(if needed): Same as set 2 Set 4 “weight acclimation” Set: 4 reps
this set use a weight that you could do about 10 to 12 reps with if you went
to temporary muscular failure. You’re not trying to tax the muscles, just
getting used to the feel of the heavier weights.
Set 5 - Your 2nd
“weight acclimation” set: 1 to 2 reps
Use a weight that you could do
about 6 to 8 reps with if you went to temporary muscular failure. Again,
you're not trying to tax the muscles, just getting used to the feel of the
Set 6 - Your first actual work set: 6 to 8 reps
Use a weight that allows you to do at least 6 reps but no more than 8
reps to temporary muscular failure. If you can’t do 6 reps, the weight is
too heavy. If you can do 8 or more reps, the weight is not heavy enough.
Set 7 - Your second work set: Same as Set 6
Due to fatigue from
the first work set you might not be able to get 6 reps. If you only get 4 or
less, lighten the weight a little for the final set.
Set 8 - Your
third work set: Same as Set 6
When you start your actual work sets,
rest 2 to 4 minutes in between sets. You want plenty of recuperation time.
We’re trying to hoist big iron here.
If you’re a relative newbie to
the Iron Game stick with the 6 to 8 rep range on the work sets.
you’ve been training a while and consider yourself an intermediate or
advanced bodybuilder, you might want to try the 4 to 6 rep range for the
work sets. I’ve made some really good size and strength gains within the
past 3 months by working in the 4 to 6 rep range on the basic exercises.
If you have good recuperation-ability and are intermediate to advanced,
you could add a 4th work set. But for most folks I think 3 is plenty.
Now go try it on your next bench, deadlift, or squat workout. I’ll bet
if you’ve been pyramiding you'll be amazed at how strong and fresh you are
on the work sets while following my reverse pyramid system.
25 pounds to my incline press the first time I tried this system. Maybe
you’ll do the same!
All the best,
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