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Three Day Split RPT Routine

Squats,Deadlifts,Benchpress,ChinsThinkyoucantgetbigwithjustthesefour?TellthattoMartinBerkhan.

Andy Morgan RippedBody.jp

#4ReversePyramidTraining

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This article tells you how to train when the time comes to split your training into a three day split.
The primary focus is reverse pyramid training, but I have also included advice for other set-rep
patterns (55 for example) to be used with a three day split, as this is what I find myself using more
and more often with clients rather than RPT nowadays.

Common Ways People Split Their Training


There will come a point in your training career where you will need to split up the compound training
movements in order to be able to recover in time for the next workout and keep progressing. (We
talked about why this in more detail in the article on appropriate training program choice
(http://rippedbody.jp/training-program-choice/)so we wont dig into that here.)
Common training split examples:
Push/pull Splitting your training by categorising the movements broadly as pull or push
movements. (Example: chest, shoulders and squatting done on day 1, rows, deadlift variations and
any hip hinge exercises on day 2.)
Upper/lower Splitting your training based by categorising movements based on whether they
target the upper or lower body. (Most commonly done four days a week, as with the push/pull
example.)
Bodypart Splitting your training by the main body part that is worked. (Example: chest on a
Monday, back Tuesday, shoulders wedneday, etc.)
Compound movement Separating your training days by the compound movement that you
do. (Example: Monday as your squat day, Wednesday as your bench day, Friday as your Squat day.)
The three day split I introduce in this article is an example of the latter type of training. It can be used
with any set-rep pattern, but the one I mainly talk about in this article is Reverse Pyramid Training.

Reverse Pyramid Training


Explained
What is it?

RPT is a style of set-rep pattern where the trainee puts their heaviest set first, then pyramids down to
a lighter weight, usually with more reps for the latter sets. It is best suited to the main compound
movements (the squat, deadlift, bench press, etc.).
Its a very time-efficient training style, but it requires very high intensity. It was made popular by
Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com who you can see picture above.

Who is it for?
Very high intensity is required to get the desired training effect from the, usually, abbreviated
routines. It is not suited to novices who are at greater risk of their form breaking down when pushing
close to failure. A straight-set routine (where the weight is kept consistent across all sets) like 55 will
me much more suitable and effective for these people. If this is you, my suggested routine isThe Big
3 Routine or one of its variants (http://rippedbody.jp/2011/09/22/training-the-guide/).

When can it be used?


It can be effective in either a cut or a bulk.The low volume makes it more suited to a cut. The theory
on that is as follows:
The goal of the experienced trainee when cutting is merely to maintain muscle mass while they
are burning the fat off. -> Under calorie deficit circumstances recovery capacity is lower. ->
Training volume is best reduced to match the reduction in recovery capacity. This helps avoid
the negative systemic stress effects of too high a workload, which prevents you from
experiencing undue soreness and regressing in your training. Yes, Im talking about getting
weaker and potentially losing muscle.
Unnecessary accessory work (http://rippedbody.jp/question/secondary-exercises/) is therefore not
used/removed.

RPT How-To Guide


RPT In A Nutshell:

1. Do warm-up sets, gradually working up to around 80% of your top set load.
2. Put the heaviest working set (aka. the top set) first.
3. Drop the weight, rest and do the second working set.
4. Drop the weight, rest and do the third working set.
5. Rest and move onto the next exercise.
6. Push HARD. Do as many reps as you can without reaching failure.
Failureis defined as the point at which a rep can no longer be completed with good form.You never
want to go to form failure with the compound movements because that is where injuries happen,
though occasionally it may happen without your planning. That is what the safety pins (or a spotter
if you have one) are for when squatting and benching, or the bumper plates and padding on the
floor for, when deadlifting.

What does it look like?


RPT is a set-rep pattern, not any specific workout. However, RPT does have popular routine
incarnations. One such incarnation is this three day split.

Example 3-day RPT Split


Monday
1. Deadlift
Warm-up sets
Top Set 4-6reps 3mins rest
Set 2 (-~10-15%) 6-8reps 2mins rest
Set 3 (-~10-15%) 8-10reps
3mins rest (or however long it takesyou to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)
2. Weighted Chin-ups
Warm-up set(s)
Top Set 6-8reps 3mins rest /Set 2 (-~10-15%) 8-10reps 2mins rest /Set 3 (-~10-15%) 1012reps
Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

Wednesday

1. Bench
Warm-up sets
Top Set 6-8reps 3mins rest /Set 2 (-~10-15%) 8-10reps 2mins rest /Set 3 (-~10-15%) 1012reps
3mins rest (or however long it takesyou to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)
2. Push-ups
2 sets, 3 mins rest. Raise feet off floor when too easy, add two second cadence. 8-12reps
Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

Friday
1. Squat
Warm-up sets
Top Set 6-8reps 3mins rest / Set 2 (-~10-15%) 8-10reps 2mins rest / Set 3 (-~10-15%) 1012reps
3mins rest (or however long it takesyou to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)
2. Overhead Press
Warm-up sets
Top Set 6-8reps 3mins rest / Set 2 (-~10-15%) 8-10reps 2mins rest /Set 3 (-~10-15%) 1012reps
Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

How To Progress With RPT

ppedbody.jp)
RPT
uses a double progression system. So that means the target is to increase either the weight or
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reps, if you can, at each session. There are rules for doing so.

For the first workout you likely need to guess at how heavy you should load the bar so that your
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maximum
effort is within the target rep range.
359
Shares
108 rep range was 6-8 reps. The
Lets say that this week you get 7 111
reps with 100kg and your target
next week youre going to stay with 100kg and try to hit 8 reps. If you do that then increase the
weight slightly (102.5kg) and try to get 6 reps or more the following workout.
If you fail to get the minimum required number or reps at any point in time, reduce the weight.
For your second and third sets, your target rep rage will be a couple of reps higher. Because of
this, and the cumulative fatigue of the previous set(s) you will need to reduce the weight on the
bar. 10-15% is a ballpark figure for this.

Example RPT Progression


Target rep ranges 6-8, 8-10, 10-12:
Week 1: 150 x 6, 135 x 9, 120 x 12 increase weight of 3rd set next
session
Week 2:150 x 8, 135 x 10, 125 x 10 increase weight of 1st and 2nd
sets next session
Week 3:155 x 6, 140 x 8, 125 x 11
Week 4:155 x 6, 140 x 10, 125 x 11 increase weight of 3rd set next
session
Week 5: 155 x 8, 145 x 8, 125 x 12 increase weight of 1st and 2nd
sets next session
Week 6:160 x 6, 145 x 9, 130 x 10
Note that some weeks the weight went up for the back-off sets but not
in the top-set and vice versa.This is normal.

TIPS:
Adjust all sets independently of each other.The ~10-15% reduction that Ive suggested is just a
guide for your first workout. (If you need to reduce it more or less that doesnt mean there is
anything wrong!) From that point onward you want toadjust your subsequent sets independentlyas
you would for that top set.
Keep the other training circumstances the same, particularly time, and keep rest intervals strict.

For the chin-ups, always keep a full range, keep it slow and smooth.Chin-ups may be very tough at
first, thats fine. Band-assisted chin-upsare a good option until you have builtup the strength to do
full-reps, as is jumping up and holding yourself in the top position and fighting gravity until it takes
you down for as long as you can. This way you will train both ends of the rep range. Eventually
youll

want

to

add

weight.

See

my

Full

Guide

To

Progressing

Your

Chin-ups

(http://rippedbody.jp/chin-up-pull-up-progress-guide/).

The Pros and Cons of RPT Training


What I like about RPT
Quick & effective.
Satisfies the need for intensity without allowing certain personality types from hammering
themselves too hard.
Cuts through the crap & focuses on the exercises that will give the trainee the most bang for
their buck.

The Drawbacks of RPT


It is not sustainable and will eventually cease to provide enough training stress to drive
progression. Training close to failure at very high intensity is bad for recovery. This means that
the workouts can only be performed with a low frequency. Volume is also low, as its not possible
to train to failure for a high amount of volume. As volume is one of the key drivers of progress,
eventually RPT will cease being effective.
Not suited to the beginner. Training too close to failure is bad for proper motor learning. Form
needs to be very good to avoid injury when pushing close to technical failure for rep-maxes.
Your maximum is highly influenced your gym atmosphere/surroundings. One of my best
squat workouts ever was with six time Mr Olympia Dorian Yates sitting on the leg press machine
six feet behind me, staring at me, waiting for his rack to become available.Maximum is relative
and variable, and its too easy for people to pussy out before they truly cant do any more reps.

Think about it this way if I put a gun to your loved ones head, you could probably do a couple
more, right?
Mentally the workouts are very tough, and knowing you need to push to a max for every set,
especially on squat day for example, can lead to people dreading their workouts. This extra
mental drain can lead to unnecessary stress and sub-optimal performance. Fixed set-rep
patterns (5 sets of 5 for example) without the requirement for failure can work better. And I find
myself recommending these more and more, regardless of the level of trainee.

A Better Way To Do A 3-Day Split?


Due to the drawbacks above I often find myself using a 55 set-rep pattern instead of RPT with
clients. Heres an example base routine of how youd do a 3 day split but with 55. (Pretty obvious
but its worth writing out so there isnt any confusion.)

Example 3-day Split Using A 55 Set-Rep Pattern


Monday
1. Deadlift
Warm-up sets
5 sets of 5 reps 2mins rest between sets
3mins rest (or however long it takesyou to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)
2. Weighted Chin-ups
Warm-up set(s)
5 sets of 5 reps 2mins rest between sets
Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

Wednesday
1. Bench
Warm-up sets

5 sets of 5 reps 2mins rest between sets


3mins rest (or however long it takesyou to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)
2. Push-ups
2 sets, 3 mins rest. Raise feet off floor when too easy, add two second cadence. 8-12reps
Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

Friday
1. Squat
Warm-up sets
5 sets of 5 reps 2mins rest between sets
3mins rest (or however long it takesyou to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)
2. Overhead Press
Warm-up sets
5 sets of 5 reps 2mins rest between sets
Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.
See here for a progression example for 55 (http://rippedbody.jp/the-big-3-routine/)

RPT-Speci c FAQ
Do I have to stick to those exercises above?
No, that is just an example. Front Squats, Rack Pulls, Pull-ups, Row variations. Basically, multijoint/compound exercises that lend themselves well to incremental loading are all fine.

Can I add in more exercises?

If it helps you progress quicker. If youve come to this page from a google search or forum
recommendation, Id highly recommend that you read my article, The Core Principles of
Effective Training (http://rippedbody.jp/training-the-guide/), so that you have the background
knowledge to know when adjustments are appropriate.

What is a good warm-up?


You want to do the minimum that you can to get warm and ready for the top set, without tiring
yourself for your main work sets. Ive covered this in detail in the FAQ in the section,WARM-UP:
What should I do? (http://rippedbody.jp/question/warm-up/)

Can I do pull-downs instead of chin-ups?


You can, but they are not as effective. Do not use them if you have a chinning-bar available. In
my experience people work a lot harder when then have to do chin-ups rather than pull-downs,
probably because their efforts (or lack of) are more public.

Is the omission of dips from Martin Berkhans original template


(http://www.leangains.com/2008/12/reverse-pyramid-revisited.html) purposeful?
Yes. Dips are a great chest and tricep developer, and it feels awesome to have a couple of plates
clanging between your legs as you knock out a few sets of 8, but the risk-reward ratio is skewed
in the wrong direction I feel.What I mean is, its very easy to cause yourself an injury with this
exercise, especially as you start adding a lot of weight.(Itputs the humeral head in a position far
past neutral (http://www.ericcressey.com/baseball-strength-training-programs-dips)).
When there are safer alternatives that are equally effective (pushups, the close-grip bench
press), I see no point in taking the risk with dips. I no longer do them myself, and I no longer
recommend them to clients.

Got any lifting videos/resources?


Yes, recommendations are covered made in my article,The Core Principles of Effective Training
(http://rippedbody.jp/training-the-guide/).

Why does this conflict with the advice of [coach X]?

You will find conflicting advice all over the internet because there are many different ways to
reach the same end with training. Every routine has its pros and cons, suitability depends on
context. RPT and the routine above is just one way of doing things. Its not suitable for all
people, at all times. Though different coaches have their own preferences and reasoning, the
principles of effective training routines (http://rippedbody.jp/training-the-guide/) remain the
same.

How do I know when I should use a full split routine like the one in the example
above?
Great

question,

this

is

covered

in the article,

Which

Routine

Is

For

Me?

(http://rippedbody.jp/2014/07/25/training-program-choice/)

Got it, now how do I put together a nutrition plan to go with this?
Thats what I specialise in and do professionally, and youll find everything you need to do this
on this site.This includes,How to Calculate Your Calories, Macros, Optimal Meal Timing, Calorie &
Carb Cycling, Supplements (which Im not a fan of), andHow to Track your Progress.How To Set Up
Your Diet:The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance (http://rippedbody.jp/nutritionalhierarchy-importance-fat-loss-muscle-growth/)

*******
Thanks for reading.Questions welcomed in the comments as always. Andy.

Next:What To Do When Youre Done With Your Linear Progression


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Morgan
I'm an online nutritional coach and trainer. After seeing one too many people get
ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do
something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled,
two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the
guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not
helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard,
riding a motorbike, or staring at watches I can't afford.

865 Comments on Three Day Split RPT Routine


Mark Wojak
08.08.2015 AT 00:39 (HTTP://RIPPEDBODY.JP/REVERSE-PYRAMID-TRAINING/COMMENT-PAGE7/#COMMENT-41128)

R E P L Y ( / R E V E R S E - P Y R A M I D - T R A I N I N G / ? R E P L Y T O C O M = 4 1 1 2 8 # R E S P O N D ) Hi

Andy: What are

your thoughts on HST? Thanks, Mark

Andy Morgan (http://rippedbody.jp)


08.08.2015 AT 12:52 (HTTP://RIPPEDBODY.JP/REVERSE-PYRAMID-TRAINING/COMMENT-PAGE7/#COMMENT-41139)

R E P L Y ( / R E V E R S E - P Y R A M I D - T R A I N I N G / ? R E P L Y T O C O M = 4 1 1 3 9 # R E S P O N D ) Hi

the question. Covered at the top of the training main page


(http://rippedbody.jp/training-guides-main-page/), and the FAQ

Mark, thanks for