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    Is it lunch yet? always_eating's Avatar
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    Question Pyramid vs "Steady" weights

    I am lifting in a "pyramid" system - 15 reps with less weight, 12 with more, 10 with some more and 8 with max. Is that good when bulking or its better to keep the weight & the reps "steady" - 10 x 10 x 10 x 10.
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    varies.. some like pyramids, some dont.. I myself like the steady sets
    BRB, going hunting...
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    do both, I change all that specifics each set each workout each week. And that works well for me.

    Ex. on chest day ill start with BB Bench - 15,12,10,8,6,4
    then since i'm warm ill go over to incline DB and stay around the 6-8 rep range
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    Registered User everista's Avatar
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    I prefer steady sets.

    That said, after a warm up, I jump on my heaviest sets (usaully after a 1RM) then reduce the weights to stay in the rep range I am looking for.
    "Everybody wanna be a Bodybuilder, but don't nobody wanna lift no heavy ass weight!" - Ronnie Coleman

    But probably should be, "but everybody can't lift no heavy ass weight!"

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    Originally Posted by everista View Post

    That said, after a warm up, I jump on my heaviest sets (usaully after a 1RM) then reduce the weights to stay in the rep range I am looking for.
    thats actually called 'descending sets'....VERY intense


    pyramids seem to fit more for the main compounds done first in the workout. That way u get a good progressive warm up. But for me, pyramids dont make much sense for stuff that comes later like db presses, laterals, curls, dips. They seem better with "straight sets" (what u called 'steady')

    in the end,,,there is no right or wrong
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    🥋 A Karate Kid age 62 Samraiwise's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by John Prophet View Post
    pyramids seem to fit more for the main compounds done first in the workout. That way u get a good progressive warm up.
    I agree. A good point.

    Usually I do put more emphasis on ascending sets for strength.
    Descending part tends to unneccessarily deprive me of my precious CNS reserve for the next sessions.
    ( for I believe in training frequency, but it's just me.)

    Sometimes I do descending sets when I feel I could use some volume for hypertrophy.

    When I feel my CNS reserve is really low, I resort to straight sets.
    Kinda plate-shy, I know.

    If even at your pyramid's top you're still doing 8 reps or higher, I'm afraid your ascending part might not offer much for your strength.

    Good luck!!
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    Registered User MS1987's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by John Prophet View Post
    thats actually called 'descending sets'....VERY intense


    pyramids seem to fit more for the main compounds done first in the workout. That way u get a good progressive warm up. But for me, pyramids dont make much sense for stuff that comes later like db presses, laterals, curls, dips. They seem better with "straight sets" (what u called 'steady')
    When you say pyramid for compounds done first, I'm assuming you're talking about a 12-10-8-6-4 type of rep scheme. Wouldn't this fatigue you for your last sets, which would be the heaviest? I can see a counter argument, that you are less fatigued for sets that are in the suggested hypertrophy range of 8-12 reps.

    A reverse pyramid, going (after warm-up) 4-6-8-10-12 or something like that would appear to be optimal for strength, since you be fresh for your heaviest sets. The drawback is the extra time taken for the warmup. What do you think?
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    🥋 A Karate Kid age 62 Samraiwise's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MS1987 View Post
    When you say pyramid for compounds done first, I'm assuming you're talking about a 12-10-8-6-4 type of rep scheme. Wouldn't this fatigue you for your last sets, which would be the heaviest? I can see a counter argument, that you are less fatigued for sets that are in the suggested hypertrophy range of 8-12 reps.

    A reverse pyramid, going (after warm-up) 4-6-8-10-12 or something like that would appear to be optimal for strength, since you be fresh for your heaviest sets. The drawback is the extra time taken for the warmup. What do you think?
    Hi MS1987, please allow me.

    Have you ever incorporated single rep sets into your workout?
    (single rep set means using a load you cannot lift two reps, but which does not necessarily mean 1RepMax.)
    If not then just imagine where would you put that single rep sets into your pyramid?

    The load which you can lift 12 reps, is not heavy enough for your strength training.

    Besides your CNS firing would be more ready after a few acclimation sets, 2-3 rep ranges, using loads more than 90%1RM. (CNS trigger)

    True strength ascending part of pyramid would be like this,
    6-3-2-1-1 (the last load should be near 1RM, around 95-98%1RM)
    In strength training, to me, fresh means readiness for CNS burst, which is more important than muscle fatigue factor.

    Hope this is relevant to your question.
    Last edited by Samraiwise; 07-25-2007 at 01:54 AM. Reason: typo
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    Originally Posted by smilanov View Post
    I am lifting in a "pyramid" system - 15 reps with less weight, 12 with more, 10 with some more and 8 with max. Is that good when bulking or its better to keep the weight & the reps "steady" - 10 x 10 x 10 x 10.
    Best thing for me, after years of experimentation, is typically 3 sets of ascending, two "steady"(overlapping w/ascending), followed by two descending.

    12 x 100, 8 x 110, 6 x 120, 5 x 120, 12 x 90, 12 x 80
    Time To Re-Schedule
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    Registered User MS1987's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Samraiwise View Post
    Hi MS1987, please allow me.

    Have you ever incorporated single rep sets into your workout?
    (single rep set means using a load you cannot lift two reps, but which does not necessarily mean 1RepMax.)
    If not then just imagine where would you put that single rep sets into your pyramid?

    The load which you can lift 12 reps, is not heavy enough for your strength training.

    Besides your CNS firing would be more ready after a few acclimation sets, 2-3 rep ranges, using loads more than 90%1RM. (CNS trigger)

    True strength ascending part of pyramid would be like this,
    6-3-2-1-1 (the last load should be near 1RM, around 95-98%1RM)
    In strength training, to me, fresh means readiness for CNS burst, which is more important than muscle fatigue factor.

    Hope this is relevant to your question.
    Thanks, that makes sense. However, I never really go for lower than 3 reps, and that is not very often. I was thinking strength gains in rep ranges of 4 and up. Would you say a similar approach should be used?

    For the pyramid you described, to combat the muscle fatigue, I am assuming you are resting for a couple of mins between sets?
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    🥋 A Karate Kid age 62 Samraiwise's Avatar
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    <<My appology to OP, someone mentioned his bench press sets so I assumed what OP is talking about was for BP. Then I realized this thread is for general exercises, not for specific one. Sorry but I cannot stop here so I continue. >>

    Hi MS1987-san, you are sharp.

    Originally Posted by MS1987 View Post
    For the pyramid you described, to combat the muscle fatigue, I am assuming you are resting for a couple of mins between sets?
    Yes, I take at least three minutes interval between sets.
    Using these intervals, I alternate bench press and weighted chin-up/pull-up so I could keep blood circulating in my upper body.
    I am conscious of antagonist muscle superset which often gives us some temporary strength output boost.
    But mine is not exactly supersets, since it takes some time to set the weight dangling from a dipping belt for my pull exercises.
    So actually it's more like active rest intervals.

    For me, more than 5 minutes rest between sets often results in a kind of incomplete combustion, CNS(&PNS) engine stall.
    It is like engine sounds fine, gas is full but there's no spark available....

    Originally Posted by MS1987 View Post
    I was thinking strength gains in rep ranges of 4 and up. Would you say a similar approach should be used?
    First I must confess that I am unorthodox about training program.

    Main set is the bottom set of ascending(load-wise) part of your pyramid.
    (From 4 to 6RM)-3-3-3-X
    *X means whatever reps possible and all but the first set should be not to failure.
    *for this ascending set to work, you better use fractional (500kg or 1.1lbs) plates. That way each increment remains manageable.
    *I know this sounds like 5X5 failure...intensity is simmilar
    but the point is that ascending loads make your body convince the next set will always be heavier than the previous one.

    If you want to train also for hypertrophy, better also add the descending sets, with which your total reps should become more than 30 reps.

    Originally Posted by Tyrbolift View Post
    Best thing for me, after years of experimentation, is typically 3 sets of ascending, two "steady"(overlapping w/ascending), followed by two descending.
    12 x 100, 8 x 110, 6 x 120, 5 x 120, 12 x 90, 12 x 80
    I almost liked Mr.Tyrbolift's, with less reps for each set than he suggested. Something like... 8-6-5-4

    Oops, time is up it seems. Hope this makes any sense to you.
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    For the bulk of a workout I like pyramids.

    First because there's less chance for injury and second because pyramids somewhat take away the need for periodization since you're already working in various rep ranges, so I find it simpler.

    For lighter stuff straight sets all the way. Doesn't make much sense to pyramid on rear delt raises does it? On the first sets it'll be too light to work the muscle and on the latter ones the weight will be too heavy to work the muscle you want.
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    www.vicjg.com vicjg's Avatar
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    The problem with pyramids is in the wrong way that they can be applied. Here's an example:

    Take a 1RM of 335 for squat.

    A typical pyramid would be 12 @ 245, 10 @ 260, 8 @ 280, 6 @300, 4 @320. What's wrong with this right?

    The problem is each set is done at 90% intensity (of 1RM). That means that the first set is just as hard as the last set. If you're using this setup as a warmup to the final heavy set, it doesn;t work because the first 4 sets weren't warmups, they were work sets done at 90% intensity.

    So the idea of "pyramiding" makes sense. Its just alot of the time, the weights are chosen with no regard for the relative intensity of each set and people are shocked that they aren't making progress.
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    For compounds I would usually do pyramids 15, 12, 9, 7, 5, 4 and then do a flush set of about 15-18.

    On more isolation moves I would stay steady inbetween 8-12 if your aiming for more mass.

    Occasionaly I like to scrap my program and just take one exercise say bench for chest and pyramid and the descend it. 15, 12, 9, 7, 5, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 15, 18. And use that as the whole chest workout
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    Registered User MS1987's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by vicjg View Post
    The problem with pyramids is in the wrong way that they can be applied. Here's an example:

    Take a 1RM of 335 for squat.

    A typical pyramid would be 12 @ 245, 10 @ 260, 8 @ 280, 6 @300, 4 @320. What's wrong with this right?

    The problem is each set is done at 90% intensity (of 1RM). That means that the first set is just as hard as the last set. If you're using this setup as a warmup to the final heavy set, it doesn;t work because the first 4 sets weren't warmups, they were work sets done at 90% intensity.

    So the idea of "pyramiding" makes sense. Its just alot of the time, the weights are chosen with no regard for the relative intensity of each set and people are shocked that they aren't making progress.

    I'm missing something here. In the example above, 1RM is 335. 90% of this is 301.5, so aren't only the last two sets (6@300 and 4@320) done at 90% intensity?
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    Smaller, Stronger, Faster gjohnson5's Avatar
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    Learning the term "progressive overload" would help quite a few people in this thread...
    Kickin your azz everytime
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    Registered User MS1987's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by gjohnson5 View Post
    Learning the term "progressive overload" would help quite a few people in this thread...
    Please feel free to help
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    Smaller, Stronger, Faster gjohnson5's Avatar
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    read:
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/borland4.htm

    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/goulet11.htm

    Originally Posted by MS1987 View Post
    Please feel free to help
    Kickin your azz everytime
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    Thumbs up Hello

    I tink pyramid sets re good as far as bulking and endurance is concern.
    I feel like to get squats patent.
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    Originally Posted by MS1987 View Post
    I'm missing something here. In the example above, 1RM is 335. 90% of this is 301.5, so aren't only the last two sets (6@300 and 4@320) done at 90% intensity?
    What I believe he's referring to is that for the specific rep range, you're still working at 90% of RM. The way I look at it is a lot of people do pyramids in a 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 rep scheme, but they're still using more than 90% of their 12RM, 10RM, 8RM, 6RM, and 4RM's... meaning, that their first set, instead of being really a warmup, they attempt a new 12RM, and then continue this scenario for the rest of their sets, so by the time they get to their heaviest sets, they're tanked.

    This is fine though, it just really depends on one's goals. If I was doing the above pyramid, and I wanted to set a new 4RM for example, I'd pace myself on the first few sets, instead of going all out on sets 1, 2, and 3. But if I'm just looking to set new RM's in all different rep ranges, I'll go all out from the get-go.

    So you have to set a pyramid up properly, depending on your goals. Generally for a strength program, I've read a 15% span over your sets is best. Or don't overcomplicate things, and just go in there with a "beat the log book mentality", but be sure you're getting plenty of rest.
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    set 1 - 15 to 20 reps with 50% 1RM...muscle warmup
    set 2 - 2 to 4 reps with 75% 1RM...joint/tendon warmup
    set 3 - 1 to 2 reps with 90% 1RM...psyche warm up
    set 4 - max work weight for what ever amount of reps/sets.

    This way the warmups aren't taxing and you have almost a full tank
    for the work sets.Easier to get PRs like this imo.

    Someone recently posted a study suggesting that straight/steady sets are better for strength gains. Ask "allpro" or "Defiant1" for the link.
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    Originally Posted by aqua-beowulf View Post
    What I believe he's referring to is that for the specific rep range, you're still working at 90% of RM. The way I look at it is a lot of people do pyramids in a 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 rep scheme, but they're still using more than 90% of their 12RM, 10RM, 8RM, 6RM, and 4RM's... meaning, that their first set, instead of being really a warmup, they attempt a new 12RM, and then continue this scenario for the rest of their sets, so by the time they get to their heaviest sets, they're tanked.

    This is fine though, it just really depends on one's goals. If I was doing the above pyramid, and I wanted to set a new 4RM for example, I'd pace myself on the first few sets, instead of going all out on sets 1, 2, and 3. But if I'm just looking to set new RM's in all different rep ranges, I'll go all out from the get-go.

    So you have to set a pyramid up properly, depending on your goals. Generally for a strength program, I've read a 15% span over your sets is best. Or don't overcomplicate things, and just go in there with a "beat the log book mentality", but be sure you're getting plenty of rest.
    Thanks for clarifying, makes perfect sense now. If intensity is reduced on the sets leading up to the heavy sets, then it feels like the worksets are cut down to only the last two. In my own experience, to counter fatigue, I have rested a little longer, and only taken the last set or two very close to failure.

    I actually prefer reverse pyramid, but it is much more time consuming, as you have to warm up to the heavy sets, than do some of those warm up sets again as worksets.
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    Originally Posted by aqua-beowulf View Post
    What I believe he's referring to is that for the specific rep range, you're still working at 90% of RM. The way I look at it is a lot of people do pyramids in a 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 rep scheme, but they're still using more than 90% of their 12RM, 10RM, 8RM, 6RM, and 4RM's... meaning, that their first set, instead of being really a warmup, they attempt a new 12RM, and then continue this scenario for the rest of their sets, so by the time they get to their heaviest sets, they're tanked.

    This is fine though, it just really depends on one's goals. If I was doing the above pyramid, and I wanted to set a new 4RM for example, I'd pace myself on the first few sets, instead of going all out on sets 1, 2, and 3. But if I'm just looking to set new RM's in all different rep ranges, I'll go all out from the get-go.

    So you have to set a pyramid up properly, depending on your goals. Generally for a strength program, I've read a 15% span over your sets is best. Or don't overcomplicate things, and just go in there with a "beat the log book mentality", but be sure you're getting plenty of rest.
    Exactly. Your 12 RM is just as hard (meaning intensity wise) as your 1RM.
    So essentially its 5 very hard reps w/ no real warmup. But again, if its set up correctly in the first place, the earlier reps should be easier & more of a warm up.
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    Originally Posted by MS1987 View Post
    When you say pyramid for compounds done first, I'm assuming you're talking about a 12-10-8-6-4 type of rep scheme. Wouldn't this fatigue you for your last sets, which would be the heaviest? I can see a counter argument, that you are less fatigued for sets that are in the suggested hypertrophy range of 8-12 reps.

    A reverse pyramid, going (after warm-up) 4-6-8-10-12 or something like that would appear to be optimal for strength, since you be fresh for your heaviest sets. The drawback is the extra time taken for the warmup. What do you think?
    I agree with MS1987.Not only is this optimal for strength gainzzzz.but after this type of rep scheme, you'll still be more fresh to perform 3 sets of 10-12 for hypertrophy due to the fact that you still have muscle preserved in the fibers which haven't reach failure ye t.!
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    This detail not important. It all same.
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