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The Ultimate Guide To Your Dream Physique: Reverse Pyramid Training

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

We're going to be talking about the most effective training method to torching body fat, gaining jaw dropping strength and building more aesthetic muscle than ever before.

Ironically, this is about the simplest and most sensible way to go about training, but sadly, no one ever does it.

Fat loss, muscle gain, aesthetics, reverse pyramid training
Aesthetic picture of IFBB pro, Ryan Terry

In fact, nearly every workout routine you've heard about, read or seen someone doing in your gym, is in direct contrast with what i'm going to share with you today. Before we get into Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT), we're first going to talk about the inevitable drawbacks of most training approaches.

3 Mistakes People Make When Lifting For Strength And Muscle Size


One of the main reasons why hard working lifters fail to consistently build strength and muscle mass is because they do most of their heavy sets in a pre-fatigued state. I invite you to go to your gym on a Monday afternoon and take 10 minutes to watch and see what unfolds on the bench press stations.

Invariably, you will see person after person burn themselves out with several high rep sets before they actually get to the real weight. They might hammer out 135lbs for 20 reps and follow that up with 185lbs for 10, 205lbs for 8, 215lbs for 6 and finally 225lbs for 5. This is your traditional pyramid training approach (start with light weight/high reps, progress to heavy weight/low reps).

By the time they get to their heaviest set, their muscles are already fatigued. They are often lifting under sub-optimal conditions and will fall short of what they're truly capable of performing. This will DRASTICALLY limit the strength and muscle building stimulus.

Btw, i'm not saying it doesn't work. There's a time and place for everything, but when your objective is to dramatically increase strength and muscle gains then this traditional approach is not my first recommendation.



Another common phenomenon I see in the gym in pacing. This is when someone goes easy on their first couple sets to ensure they finish their exercise with the heaviest weight. We also call this sandbagging ;-)

In other words, you're once again limiting your max potential. Don't sell yourself short. You want to gradually increase weight throughout your build-up sets, but still challenge intensity and load enough to properly stimulate your Central Nervous System (CNS) so you're prepared for your heavy working sets.

With the right strength program you should see Personal Records (PR's) week after week. You give it your all every set for every workout. And you leave feeling energized!



Now on the other hand, you have the no-pain no-gain lifters. These are the individuals that take every set to the brink of failure. They will use a weight they can do for 4-8 reps and they will push it until failure for several sets. This usually means; grinding out 6-7 reps on their first set, 5 reps on their second, 4 reps on their third and maybe a couple more sets of 3-4 reps.

With heavy lifting you create loads of neural fatigue. Performing multiple sets with a heavy weight until failure is a recipe for overtraining, burnout and injuries. You'll very quickly hit a plateau and even struggle to maintain your strength with such protocols. Talk about all-pain no-gain.

LESS IS MORE MY FRIENDS. I know, I love working out as well. But, if you're telling me heavy loads combined with less volume provides faster and better results AND leaves me feeling energized? Yep, i'm all ears! I'm sure you're the same.

Enter Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT)

Reverse Pyramid Training Sets

Reverse Pyramid Training (RPT) will side step all of these issues above and prove more effective than any training method you have ever done before. If you have a few years under your belt and feel you have hit a plateau, RPT will get the wheels moving again. You'll start knocking walls down right away.

Alternatively, if you're relatively inexperienced, RPT will help you make the best strength and muscle gains compared to any other training approach out there.

Let's talk about how it works:


With RPT you'll be doing your heaviest exercises and heaviest set of these exercises first (after your build-up sets) while you're completely fresh and explosive. This means being able to handle heavy weight with more ease and power than ever before. Now surely you can't jump right into your heaviest set without a proper warm-up approach (unless you're looking to get injured). As a result, you're going to want to perform a couple warm-up sets (aka build-up sets) while minimizing fatigue.

This is where I recommend the 5/3/1 build-up protocol.

(after your very first set of 10-15 reps of a light weight)

- You will perform 5 reps with a moderate weight.

- Then 3 reps with a moderate-heavy weight.

- Then 1 rep with a weight heavier than what you think you will use for your first actual working set. You can usually tell how you're feeling by the way you perform during your build-ups. Get to know the signs your body gives you. If you're feeling good, PUSH IT! If you're not feeling the strongest, pump the weight brakes and train smart.

The good news is, that you only have to do these build-up sets for the first RPT exercise of your workout. For your other RPT exercises, you can either do one build-up set (say 1-5 reps) or jump right into your first working set.


With RPT you're only performing your heaviest set once. That's it! One heavy ass set is all she wrote baby.

If you take that set to the absolute brink of your capabilities, you will not be able to replicate that set again for the rest of your workout.

What's amazing is that there is a great wave of relief when you know that you only have to do that heavy weight for one set. Mentally this is a huge advantage, it puts you in the winning mindset and ensures maximum effort. This will lead to consistent personal records like you've never experienced before.

Moreover, by only performing one max effort set per exercise, you avoid creating excessive neural fatigue. This means that you'll feel stronger and more refreshed than ever. Lifting heavy weights won't turn into the grind that it was before.


The beautiful thing about your max effort set is that it will supercharge your body. You see, lifting a heavy weight requires near maximal muscle fiber stimulation from the very first rep. This is unlike light weights, which you only recruit all of your muscle fibers on those last few really tough reps (if you even push that far).

You can see this for yourself when you go to do your lighter sets, the first few reps will feel suspiciously easy. This is because you'll be using more muscle fibers than you'd normally use for that weight. For your first set, if you hit your rep goal, I recommend dropping the weight by approximately 10% for your second set, then drop the weight by another 10% for your third set.

(example: bench press)

Build-Up Sets: 10-15, 5, 3, 1 rep (as much rest between sets as needed)

Working Set 1: 4-6 reps

Working Set 2: 6-8 reps (drop weight by 10%)

Working Set 3: 8-10 reps (drop weight another 10%)

*Your first working set is your BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT set. This is where PR's happen!

**If you don't hit your rep goal then I recommend dropping weight by 15% for your following sets

Reverse Pyramid Training is the most sensible way to go about increasing strength and transforming your physique in record time. You're doing your heaviest set while you're as strong as possible. It's only when you push the envelope out of what you're physically capable of doing under optimal conditions that you'll begin to realize incredible strength and muscle gains.

(Weeks 1-4 from my most recent Push Day workout logs below. The first two exercises are RPT, the remaining exercises are Straight Sets. Note the consistent strength gains week after week)

I attribute 75-80% of my muscle gains to RPT. I'll also utilize some strategic light-weight pump training (drop-sets, rest-pause training, etc.) and other methods to get some extra growth on stubborn muscle groups. I talk a lot about this in my private FB Group Shred With Shaun (<< click the link to join for FREE).


That's it! The 3 mistakes most people make and the 3 steps to the most effective training method to torching body fat, gaining jaw dropping strength and building more aesthetic muscle than ever before.

At the end of the day, it all starts with a desire, a realistic game plan, and a reliable coach to scale your results. Continue experimenting and making changes to your workouts and you'll quickly turn yourself into that strong, chiseled, confident man that continues killing goal after goal.


Hey, I'm Shaun Nunes. I'm determined to transform men's physiques and teach them how I do it along the way so they never have to hire another coach again. My only question is, will it be yours?


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