Doberman Dan Barks Bench Press Pyramiding Bites! by Doberman Dan
"Why I Think 'Pyramiding' Sucks! And How You Can Add Up TO
50 Pounds To Your Bench Press IMMEDIATELY By NOT
From my very introduction to the Iron Game over 20 years ago,
(geez, that makes me sound old!) all of the literature, books, and
courses I've read or followed 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 lbs.
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. This was (and still is) just my humble observation.
Now I agree that warming up is important...but geez, how "warm"
do you wanna get? So warm you're fried???
So I think I've discovered a better way. Well, it's been better for
me. But who knows? It could work for you, too!
As I was just now getting ready to describe my system for the basic
exercises, I realized that I don't have a name for it! I guess I gotta
call it sumthin'!
Hmmmmmm...since I'm not really in a creative mood let's call it...
(insert drum roll here)
"Doberman Dan's Non-Pyramid System For Maximum Muscle Growth"
OK, I admit that kinda sucks. I tried to think of something cute and
creative but couldn't. I tried to think of a word that means "opposite
of a pyramid" but I don't think that word exists. So for now we're stuck
with this non-creative name.
So instead of the pyramid thing (wouldn't it actually be a "triangle?"
Pyramids are 3 dimensional) let's try training on the bench press like this:
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 (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
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 heavier weights.)
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 2nd "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 3rd "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
If you're a relative newbie to the Iron Game stick with the 6 to 8
rep range on the work sets.
If 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 "non-pyramid" system.
I added 25 pounds to my incline press the first time I tried this system.
Maybe you'll do the same!
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Other Related Bench Press Information
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A step-by-step guide that teaches you the secrets, tips, and techniques you need to know to build a chiseled, muscular, ripped, head-turning physique...FAST!