Pyramid training as the name suggests starts with doing the maximum number of reps with the least amount of weights and then gradually lowering the number of reps with higher weights. Sounds like a logical way to build muscle and the easiest to follow, hence the reason most famous bodybuilders still stick to this routine.
So why is it being shunned?
As science seeps into every facet of our lives, fitness isn’t far behind. The science of building muscle clearly states that in order to build muscle you need to push it beyond what it is capable of, creating a tear, also known as muscle failure. This leads to new muscle fibers being created to bridge the tear, causing an increase in muscle mass.
What you usually end up with doing the pyramid style training is muscle fatigue, which is when your muscles are exhausted from doing so many reps. While you do increase your stamina, if muscle growth is what you’re aiming at, it’s not ideal. As a beginner it makes sense to start with pyramid training as it incorporates warm-ups, the low weight higher rep, in the beginning, serves as a good warm-up preventing injuries as you push forward to heavier weights that test your muscle.
However, workouts should enable you to lift heavier weights, as muscle is only built through progressive overload. This is obtained through what trainers now recommend, RPT or reverse pyramid training. What is important to note is that it is recommended only with a good warm-up but unlike pyramid training, the warm-ups don’t cause muscle fatigue.
A reverse pyramid exactly like its name gets you to work on your heaviest weights while your muscles are able and then when you hit muscle failure, it reduces the weights and increases the reps. This type of workout gets you to build muscle but you need to keep in mind not to overdo the stress as your muscles do need time to heal.
Some trainers also recommend the modified straight sets which is when you work on 3 sets of the same number of reps with the same set of weights and when you manage to stick within the rep range on each of the 3 sets you increase the weights.
As with all fitness advice, we recommend that you consult your doctor to make sure you do not have any underlying conditions that you are unaware of and that you listen to your body and rest when you need to heal. Staying hydrated, eating nutritious food, and getting an adequate amount of sleep are all vital to your fitness lifestyle.