‘Three Day Split RPT’ Routine

Squats, Deadlifts, Bench press, Chins – Think you can’t get big with just these four? Tell that to Martin Berkhan.

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.

RPT is a very time-efficient training style, but requires very high intensity. It was made popular by Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com (picture above).

Who is it for?

Due to the very high intensity necessary to get the desired training effect from the abbreviated routine, considerable lifting experience is required to pull it off effectively and thus it not suited to beginners (more thorough explanation and suggested routine here).

When can it be used?

RPT can be used in a cut or a bulk and can be very effective in either case. The low volume makes it particularly suited to a cut. Theory:

The goal of the experienced trainee when cutting is merely to maintain muscle mass while burning the fat off. -> Under calorie deficit circumstances recovery capacity from workouts is lower. -> Training volume is best reduced to match the reduction in recovery capacity to avoid the negative systemic stress effects of too high a workload, which can have negative repercussions diet progress (strength & muscle maintenance, mood, soreness and body composition).

Unnecessary accessory work is therefore not used/removed.

Reverse Pyramid Training – How to Guide

Reverse Pyramid Training 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, go to failure.
  3. Drop the weight, rest and do the second working set. Go to one rep short of failure but still push yourself REALLY HARD.
  4. Drop the weight, rest and do the third working set. Again, go to one rep short of failure.
  5. Rest and move onto the next exercise.

What does it look like?

RPT is a set-rep pattern, not any specific workout. However, RPT does have popular routine incarnations.

Example using a 3-day split:


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 takes you 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%) 10-12reps
  • Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.


1. Bench

  • Warm-up sets
  • Top Set 6-8reps - 3mins rest / Set 2 (-10-15%) 8-10reps - 2mins rest / Set 3 (-10-15%) 10-12reps
  • 3mins rest (or however long it takes you 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.


1. Squat

  • Warm-up sets
  • Top Set 6-8reps - 3mins rest / Set 2 (-10-15%) 8-10reps - 2mins rest / Set 3 (-10-15%) 10-12reps
  • 3mins rest (or however long it takes you 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%) 10-12reps
  • Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

How To Progress

RPT uses a double progression system. The target is to increase either the weight or reps, but there are strict rules for doing so.

  • For the first workout, choose the weight here you think you will ‘fail’ in the target rep range.
  • Let’s say that this week you get 7 reps with 100kg and your target rep range was 6-8. The next week you’re 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, reduce the weight.


Example squat progression, target rep ranges 6-8, 8-10, 10-12:

  • Week 1: 150 x 6, 135 x 9, 120 x 12
  • Week 2: 150 x 8, 135 x 10, 125 x 10
  • Week 3: 155 x 6, 140 x 8, 125 x 11
  • Week 4: 155 x 6, 140 x 10, 125 x 11
  • Week 5: 155 x 8, 145 x 8, 125 x 12
  • 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.

Adjust all sets independently of each other. The “-10-15% reduction” is just a guide for your first workout. From that point onward you want to adjust your subsequent sets independently as you would for that top set.

‘Failure’ is where you can no longer get another rep with perfect form, not where you can no longer lift the weight. For chin-ups, it’s where you can no longer get a full rep out.

Keep the other training circumstances the same, particularly, time and keep rest intervals strict.

Chin-up progression (weighted/band-assisted). Always keep a full range, keep it slow and smooth. Chin-ups may be very tough at first, that’s fine. Band-assisted chin-ups are a good option until you have built up the strength to do full-reps. Eventually you’ll want to add weight. Full example progressions here.

Pros, Cons and FAQs

What I like about RPT

  • Quick & effective.
  • Satisfies the need for intensity without allowing certain personality types from hammer themselves too hard due to the lower volume.
  • Cuts through the crap & focuses on the exercises that will give the trainee the most bang for your buck.

Drawbacks of RPT

  • Not suited for the beginner, but every beginner wants to do it because they feel it’s advanced therefore cool. Form needs to be very good to avoid injury when pushing to rep-maxes or near.
  • A persons ‘maximum‘ and thus failure point is highly influenced by gym atmosphere/surroundings. One of my best squat workouts ever was with Dorian Yates sitting on the leg press machine, staring at me, waiting for his rack to become available. Maximum is therefore relative and variable, and it’s too easy for people to pussy out before they truly can’t do any more reps.
  • 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 be better here.

RPT-Specific FAQ

Do I have to stick to those exercises above?

No, that is just an example. Front Squats, Rack Pulls, Dips (weighted/assisted), Pull-ups, Row variations. Basically, multi-joint/compound exercises that lend themselves well to incremental loading.

What is a good warm-up?

Regardless of the routine, you’ll 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. I’ve covered this in detail in the FAQ, WARM-UP: What should I do?

Please feel free to confirm your thoughts on a warm-up above. However if you have no idea at all about this it’s likely you don’t have a enough lifting experience for RPT to be suited to you.

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 they don’t want to be seen to fail.

Got any lifting videos/resources?

Best Book:Starting Strength 3rd Edition’ by Mark Rippetoe. It will teach you about form. 

Best Videos: Rippetoe’s are here: Main Barbell Movements Other Lifts & Tips.

Other videos: Type any exercise you’re looking for into Youtube along with any of the following names and you can be sure it’ll be good: Mark Rippetoe / Eric Cressey / Tony Gentilcore / Bret Contreras / Jordan Syatt

Martin Berkhan wrote an excellent article on RPT. It can be found here.

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. The principles of effective training routines remain the same however. (See article, The Principle Of Progressive Overload.)

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

 Covered in the article, Progressing from ‘The Big 3′ to the ‘Split’

Got it, now how to I put together a nutrition plan to go with this?

RippedBody Results CollageThat’s what I specialise in, some people hire me to do it, but you can find everything you need to do this on this site.

I’ve put all the diet guides in one place. This includes, How to Calculate Your Calories, How to Calculate Your Macros, Optimal Meal Timing, Calorie & Carb Cycling, Supplements, How to Track your Progress, basically everything you need.

Continue to -> Diet Guides

Principles | Programs | CardioFAQ

648 thoughts on “‘Three Day Split RPT’ Routine

  1. Hey Andrew, I have found the most effective warmups to be like so. Lets say my work weight is 120kg squat

    20kg (bar) x5
    30kg x5
    40kg x3
    50kg x3
    60kg x3
    70kg x3
    80kg x1
    90kg x1
    100kg x1
    110kg x1
    120kg xamount of reps i need.

    I have tried several variations of warmiing up but as I moved toward powerlifting a while back, I found this is the least tiring most effective way for me. Not sure ig you were looking for a post but I assumed you did mean something like that from what you wrote in your warm-up section :) Hope you’re well.

    • Hey Richard.
      Alex here, a fellow RPTer myself. Can you also explain if you also a similar approach for benching and deadlifting, as well ?
      I usually warmed-up for as much as 80-85% of my working set weight and hit it.
      Guess i’ll have to experiment with this approach and find out myself :)

  2. Andy

    Great post once again…couple questions I really don’t think I should be doin squats my knee is kinda shot what exercises can I do to work the legs and abs on squat day and do my shoulders get enough work without doin overhead presses…lovin the simplicity of the program buddy

  3. RPT sounds like an interesting tool for the toolbox, and I’m giving it a go at the moment, but I’m confused by a few things:

    1) I understand the benefit of drop sets after your work sets for the purpose of strength or mass gain, but I fail to see why RPT is better than just one work set when on a cut; i.e. if the purpose on a cut is to maintain strength, which 1×5 is often recommended as sufficient for that, why the extra work? (For example, I’ve switched to RPT after Starting Strength, trying to lose fat, and I’m not entirely sure why I’m bothering with the extra sets, especially when I’m pretty darn gassed after the first exercise, I assume as a result of my diet.)

    2) I’m not sure why RPT isn’t for beginners – what’s more intensive about it versus your basic beginner 3×5 model (like Starting Strength). I recently switched to RPT from 3×5 (I’m probably an advanced beginner), and I for one find RPT easier than 3×5 due to the lesser weight after the first set; I especially notice the difference on my off days. Seems like RPT being recommended for a cut, but not recommended for beginners because of it being too intense, is contradictory. No?

  4. Hi Andy,
    What is the rationale for prioritizing meeting the rep goal more than increasing the weight, even if the 1RM increment for the latter is smaller?

    Example 1 Weighted Chin up for 4-6 reps.
    Day 1: (150 bw + 30) x 5 => 1RM = 203
    Should I increase the weight by 2.5, so 1RM of 182.5 = 205 (+2 lbs) instead of trying for 180×6 whose 1RM = 209. (+6lbs)

    Example 2: Squat 6-8
    Day 1 180×6 => 1RM = 203
    Should I aim for more reps or add weights if
    180×7 => 1RM = 217 vs 185×6 => 1RM = 215 ?

    Is the whole point of having the range to make sure we can have small increments?


  5. Hi Andy,

    I have pretty much an identical set up as you highlighted in your revised write up with the addition of Rows after my push-ups on Bench days. My question is, for a cut, would it be fine to use a rep range of 3-5 for all lifts or is 6-8 preferred (4-6 for deadlifts)?


  6. I think the hardest thing for people like myself who have been training for years is to accept fully new methods which you have proved work.The industry is one of huge deception interested in selling more and more ‘new supplements’.Every person i know over the last twenty odd years has gained quality via real food and of course at the elite level PED’s.But anyway,each to their own,one question.Being mature the biggest hurdle for me is the degree in which fat loss slows down after fifty and looking at carbs makes me fat!OK,i went over board but i think IF suits me and also less food at times,i am also concerned about my joints by going back to the big three..Good look with your imformative work..

  7. Great work, Andy. I like the addition of the Press.

    Question on deadlifts: Do you do 3 hard sets of deadlifts and recover well? I know Rippetoe suggests only one top set (I never tried 3 sets for fear it would really hit my back hard). I was always curious how you and your clients managed the 3 work sets of deadlifts as I’d like to try.

  8. Hello Andy
    Regarding your example of a split.
    If i choose to split the training with a push / pull / legs style – would that be wrong?

    Thanks a lot & take care, buddy!

  9. Hey Andy, really appreciate all the effort you’ve put into this site. It is a gold mine!! Just a small question…

    For someone who travels A LOT! (airline worker) and is often in hotels/areas without barbells (if a gym at all, we go to a lot of smaller island nations). Is there a list of alternatives that could be used for the big 3 in this situation. I realise that perhaps you’d sacrifice some results but doing something with dumbells or body weight has got to be better than nothing?? Just the names of a few you think are worth the effort would be much appreciated.


  10. Hi Andy–

    How should I best address a plateau on a cut? or even in general? I’ve had success with different exercises with decreasing weight to 20-30% of my top set (RPT program) and switching to a 5×5 for that exercise for a few weeks. It has worked reasonably well, but those extra sets plus three minutes in between adds some additional time to the session…

    • A plateau on a cut is normal. As for “in general” – that needs to be an article. I’ll have one up on the site in the next few weeks – a translation from a good one we have from a researcher here in Japan just put out on our Japanese site.

      • So literally, just tolerate it? Aim for same reps and weights and as long as your hitting your numbers keep things the same?

        • Take strength/rep gains if/when they come, but don’t be greedy or take them for granted.
          There is of course a whole grey zone here between beginner and intermediate/advanced trainees which is why I cannot give a blanket answer.

  11. Hi Andy,

    Great website, it got me hooked and motivated to change my eating! I still have a question about my training program.

    I understand the RPT method, but the exercises i dont get, you never train the abs or the shoulders? Its different from my normal training, see below.

    Monday: Chest + Triceps
    Tuesday: Abs only (considered rest day)
    Wednesday: Back + Bicep
    Thursday: Schoulders + Abs
    Friday: Rest day
    Saturday: Legs + Abs
    Sunday: Rest day

    I train every big muscle 1 time a week and the abs 3 times a week. Is this ok and can i keep this training program to get these results? Or do i need to change my training program and skip the abs & shoulders?


    • Hi Milco. Barbell exercises train the abs – isometrically. A muscle doesn’t need to be contracted for it to work. Good article on that by Rippetoe here.
      The shoulders get worked with the deadlift and bench press. More importantly though, it seems from your comments likely that you’re a beginner to this and thus the big three routine will give you better results.

      • Hi Andy, thanks for your advice, i will go with the big three and have 4 rest days. I dont have much body fat now(~12-13%) so i chose to do a slowbulk. With a BMR of 1983 i calculated 2500 calories(3days intensive training. Traindays give me 3500 Cal and 550 Carbs, Rest days give me 2250 cal and 110 carbs. Does this sound correct or do i need to re-calculate?

        Thanks in advance!

  12. Hi Andy,

    About the Chins you write “Palms facing, shoulder width please.”
    At my gym the Chin-up bar is a bit tilted, making palms facing myself impossible – so are chins with palms facing out a good idea or should I do something else?

  13. Hey Andy,

    Thanks so much for posting this routine. I’d like to try it, and have a few questions:

    1) You recommend “5-10mins cooldown cardio” after every workout. Can you explain what exactly that entails?

    2) You recommend stretching after every workout. Is there a specific stretch routine you would suggest, for someone with zero stretching experience?

    3) If someone really wants to add Overhead Press and Weighted Dips, where (which day / spot) and how should he add them to your program?

    Thanks, Sonny.

    • Hi Sonny. Get yourself the book Starting Strength, 3rd edition. Give it a good read. It’s an invaluable source and at the moment the knowledge gap is going to be too much to break by simply reading this article here.

      • Thanks, Andy. I did get the book and read most of it.

        I would still be interested to know what “cooldown cardio” and “stretching” you personally do or recommend.

        It would also be great to know how you’d integrate Overhead Press and Weighted Dips into the Three Day Split program you present above, as the program laid out in Starting Strength is too different to draw any conclusions about that.

        Many thanks, Sonny.

  14. Hi Andy,
    Should I be having DOMS after each workout? I think I’m increasing over previous weeks, I mean, it’s hard to say if it was a strength gain or just more refreshed muscles or a little more energy/focus when it’s a couple extra reps, however, I didn’t get DOMS. Is this normal?

    • DOMS is a side effect, not an aim, nor a signal of an effective workout, nor is it’s absence a signal of an ineffective workout.

      The aim of a workout for beginners, in the broadest of terms, is to progress in strength. Generally, this means to lift what you planned to lift, for the target number of sets and reps, then to leave the gym to rest and recover so that you are stronger the next time you go back.

  15. Just sort of a casual observer here. Andy, I am impressed by how many questions you respond to. I don’t remember seeing that on other blogs, regardless of subject. I also don’t blame those who don’t answer any questions.

  16. Hi Andy,
    I’m wondering if there is any content on the site for size-gaining methods, or where you expanded upon your methods to gain size. If not, I’d love to see your thoughts on general rep and set ranges for size gaining purposes. I have found the guy Mark McManus’s approach most compelling so far, which is pretty much 8 sets per muscle group in the 8-12 rep range, to failure.

    so for example chest: bench: (2 X 8-12) Incline bench (2 X8-12) Peck deck (2×8-12) Dips (2×8-12)
    I may remember incorrectly, but this is pretty much how most workout days look like (shoulders, legs, arms, back, chest)

    thanks for the passionate and thorough work! The site is real quality.

      • Thanks Andy,

        although there still seem to be some factors involved apart from the total work load.
        I mean deadlifting 300 pounds is surely not the same as doing 5 rounds of 60 pounds. If that was the case, fuckarounditis would not be such an epidemic. Am I wrong?
        Anyway, is the take home message here is that one should – for more hypertrophy – add as many load as possible, regardless of the setup?

        • It can be a mistake to try and distill something complicated into a simple sentence, which I am a fan of attempting to do myself, and if I could have done so, I would have.

          The point I was trying to make is that people would benefit from choosing an established, proven routine, applying and sticking to it, rather than sweating the differences between popular routines.

  17. If you create more lean muscle, does that mean your body needs more calories to sustain the muscle? Example- if you eat the same diet- and have added 15lbs of lean muscle, and don’t change your diet and continue to work out- what happens? Less fat- maintaining muscle?

    • Your RMR will increase because muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat. Fat also requires energy to maintain, which is something that was discovered fairly recently, so overall whether you burn more of less calories through the day depends on the balance.

  18. Hi Andy, why is it Martin Berkhan has suggested 2 x 3-5 deadlifts for RPT where as you have suggested more sets & reps, will that effect your progress , thank you

    • It’s all context dependent Jahan. I’ve seen Martin suggest several different set/set patterns, and that’s just Martin. No famous strength coach sticks with one set/rep pattern, for all times. These are just guides bud, it’s down to you to do the application, reading and experimentation.

  19. Hi Andy,

    Do you have any suggestions for what to do if you don’t have a rack? I have dumbbell handles and plates, a barbell and a swiss ball I use for my bench (it surprisingly can handle me + 100+ kg)
    Today I tried doing a “Jefferson Squat” and sometimes I try front squats, but it’s hard to get a good max weight for my legs since I have to use so much of the rest of my body to do the work of getting the barbell into position to squat. The best idea I had today was to get a belt and some chains and just chain the barbell or dumbbell to the belt with a short length so I can really focus on legs only… but falling could be pretty unsafe…

      • Thanks for the suggestion!! I totally forgot about them, in the past I tried doing them, but rather than lifting it up to my chest, hanging between my legs. It’s very awkward to lift 50kg dumbbells like this (considering I can clean and press 70kg and front squat it), and I can’t fit more than 60kg on a dumbbell before the bars run out of space.
        Thanks for your advice however! I will incorporate it into my workout and try to figure out a way to increase my squat strength.

        • Also, you could try something called the hip belt squat, that’ll take the stress off the (front) of the shoulders and allow you to use more weight. You’ll need the right stuff though and in the end, it may well just be better/easier to bite the bullet and get a rack.

          • Thanks! That gave me a good idea, I’ll have to check out straps at the home improvement store, maybe I can make some type of harness or belt on the cheap… Just a little worried about the weight swaying as I raise it up but I can probably figure out a way to get around that like squatting off of a step… also, I was wrong, I can probably put 80kg on a dumbbell… but getting my hands in a good position to pick it up is pretty much impossible.

            • For now, I’ve put all my weight on one end of the bar, put 1 plate on the other, and use it like a lever, pulling midway down the bar so it’s harder for me than lifting at the end. It’s either that or jefferson squats, both are not perfect, but they do give me a serious leg workout.

  20. Hi Andy
    Do you have any article explaning how to go about adding more isolated exercises on each day?
    For example when I could add barbell rows or leg curls? Is there some guide explaining why certain exercise would be better on a squat day and others on a bench day? Thanks

  21. Andy,

    it’s OK if I choose a low rep range for the powerlifts, like 3-5

    I’m feeling comfortable with this rep range and I don’t like going over 5 reps at any exercise


  22. Hi Andy!

    What do you suggest about cyclization, if I reach a “wall” what I can’t break through?
    Usually I reduce a weight inevery set – as like Strating Strenght – and try again.
    I’m interested in your view point.

    Thank you in advance,

  23. I’m thinking about setting my routine like this:
    A1: Incline Bench : 5,6,8 (RPT). Bench: 5,6,8 (RPT). Pendlay Rows: 3×5. Barbell Curls: 3×5. Skull Crushers: 6-8,8-10 (RPT).
    B1: Deadlitf: 2x 3-5 (RPT). Weighted Chins: 5,6,8 (RPT). Standing Press: 3×5. Weighted Dips: 2×4-6 (RPT). Lateral Raises: 3x 8-12.
    A2: Bench: 5,6,8 (RPT). Incline Bench: 5,6,8 (RPT). Pendlay Rows: 3×5. Barbell Curls: 3×5. Skull Crushers: 6-8, 8-10 (RPT).
    B2: Sqauts: 3×5. Weighted Chins: 5,6,8 (RPT). Standing Press: 3×5. Weighted Dips 2x 4-6 (RPT). Lateral Raises: 3x 8-12.


    • For many individuals that that would serve perfectly fine, but it really depends on you. – Recovery capacity, current energy balance (surplus, deficit etc.), goal, how you’re progressing, where you’re coming from. So while I know you want me to say, “Oh yes that looks lovely Daniel,” simply, I have to baffle you with my frustrating answer of, “it depends”.

      • Fair enough! I’m eating at a slight calorie surplus over maintenance on training days and a slight calories deficit on rest days. Nothing too extreme. I’m simply looking to add more muscle and relative strength while keeping my weight and body fat roughly the same. Love the website man!

  24. Hi Andy,

    I wondered how much you’d lose by using a weighted vest and doing single leg pistol squats instead of squats.

    For bench press it would be similar – doing push ups using rings and wearing the vest.

    I ask because the gym is costly, but if you can’t replicate the gains you’d make with free weights any other way I would be more inclined to go for the gym option.



    • Hi Steve. There isn’t a definite, clear answer to your question. For some people they would be fine doing that, for many people they can get lost in those exercises and find themselves not progressing. Not sure if this will help, but here’s a good article, “Why Barbells?” I’ve named it.

  25. Andy,

    Background: My goal is to cut, but since I have been eating very low calories for a while and, now, eating a lot more calories to fix my metabolism, I am essentially in a temporary bulk (for a few months) until my metabolism catches back up.

    I know we aren’t supposed to gain strength on a cut, but since I am essentially on a bulk right now, should I continue to be gaining in strength? In other words and in general, if you are bulking should you always and forever be on an upward trend of increasing strength or do we all have a ceiling and eventually can’t lift heavier/more reps?

    I ask this because although I have been steadily increasing my weight/reps over the past few months like the Three Day Split RPT says, I have found that I am hitting a wall the past few weeks and don’t seem to be able to hit more weight or more reps. It feels like I am at my “genetic potential” if you will and maxed out. Don’t know if that’s the right phrase, but I am just wondering if we should always be continually gaining in strength on a bulk, or do we eventually hit a ceiling where we just maintain that weight/those reps for the rest of our lives?

    I’m either doing something wrong or maybe I have simply hit my max strength/reps. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as always, my man! Thank you!

    • Hi Dean.
      “…if you are bulking should you always and forever be on an upward trend of increasing strength or do we all have a ceiling and eventually can’t lift heavier/more reps?”
      Yes and no, depending on the goal. If hypertrophy then there are three factors that cause it: Mechanical Tension, Metabolic Stress, Muscle Damage. I focus on strength gain on this site as it stope people getting lose in meaningless splits, but the reality is more complex, beyond the scope of any single article or comment answer.
      Have a read of the book, Practical Programming for Strength Training by Rippetoe and Kilgore. Also check out Brad Schoenfeld’s work for further reading.

      • Thanks, Andy.

        So if the goal is bulking, and you are consuming more calories than your maintenance, you should always and forever continue to gain in the amount of weight you lift and the reps you can do? Or is there a point, even on a bulk, that you hit a weight/rep ceiling and will never be able to naturally lift heavier/more?

  26. Andy,

    More of a philosophical question on the way you drew out RPT:

    It the rep ranges seem to favor sarcoplasmic hypertrophy being in the 6 – 8, 8-10, 10-12 range, which is cool, size and energy focus (ATP depletion), more or less the way I’ve always trained. Interested on your take of myophibrilar hypertrophy (dense stronger, more efficient muscle contraction), being in the 1-3, 4-6 ranges…Incorporating the first set heavy weight say 3 rep…Is it unfavorable to do that high weight low rep range for RPT or just another way to do it. Just curious on your take/reasoning.


      • Sure, let me set it up differently. Lets say a person could do 240 lb rear squats for 6 reps and his RPT looked like:

        Rear Squats
        1st set 240lbs – 6 reps
        2nd set 215 lbs – 8 reps
        3rd set 195 lbs – 12 reps

        Lets say this same person, fresh, can instead do 300 lb squat for 2 reps and made a RPT routine like:

        Rear Squat
        1st set 300 lbs – 2 reps
        2nd set 285 lbs – 3 reps
        3rd set 275 lbs – 4 reps

        In terms of strength (increase poundage consistently over time, “help push a car out a ditch”) and even athletic performance (i.e. play basketball/track/long jump ect.) is one more favorable to the other? Is too taxing on the CNS or muscle groups to do the second routine for the long run? Are they both equally good for strength and athletic performance?

        I guess what I gathered from other internet sources is that lower rep ranges may give you leaner physique (i.e. 77kg olympic powerlifter) versus the high rep range a more size physique (i.e. bodybuilding guy at the gym)..

        • Thanks for clarifying. Unfortunately the answer is, “it depends”. Sticking with one routine at all times is not going to be optimal for the athlete, but the person in the first position needs to focus on getting stronger first as they are weaker. The person in the second position has developed an intermediate level strength base and so can afford to worry about such things.

          Too taxing will depend on the whole program design in combination with their sport practise schedule.

          It is true that higher rep ranges tend to give more hypertrophy and lower rep ranges more strength. But that’s not black and white, there is heavy crossover, and to the non intermediate trainee it’s irrelevant – they just need to get stronger first. See the article, “Why Barbells?

          Hope that helps Joe.

  27. Hey Andy, I haven’t seen you mention 5/3/1 in any of the comments. I am curious as to your thoughts on Wendler’s program. I really enjoy it myself and find it allows for easy adaption to cutting/bulking etc. Thanks for your time.

    • 5/3/1 – Famous program, designed by a genuine, decent, and very knowledgable guy, Jim Wendler. Has worked with
      My thoughts on pretty much any program is as follows: If you enjoy it, and it is getting your real, measurable results then go for it.

      Words are chosen carefully there to rule out any “World’s Quickest Loser”-esque, try to out-run-your-mouth stupid shit. Also more subtly included in those words is the necessity of matching up the diet with the program designers intention. – For example, don’t do a bulking routine when cutting.

      • Thanks for the reply Andy. I certainly don’t try to make it a bulking routine when cutting. Like now, I am eating less calories and I only got 1 rep of 340lbs for my 3 rep set of deadlifts. So, my new training max becomes 90% of 340 and I recalculate deadlifts from there. So it is easy to adapt to strength levels when in a calorie deficit etc.. Further, it uses all the basic movements: barbell squats, bench press, shoulder press, deadlifts etc. Anyway, glad to see your thoughts on it. Keep up the great work.

  28. Hi Andy so I’m trying to my own RPT routine I wanted you to weigh in on. Trying to follow the principles and also make a program without too much of a load on the CNS or other muscle groups..

    Joes RPT routine

    Exercise (major muscle groups hit)

    A) Back Squats (legs gluts and abs)
    Bench Press (triceps and chest)
    Weighted Chin ups (back and biceps)

    B) Power clean w/ full front squat (legs gluts and abs)
    Weighted dips (triceps and chest)
    Reverse grip barbell bent over row (back and biceps)

    Comments or suggestions welcomed, thanks

    • Hi Joe, thanks for the question. Here’s what you need to consider: Are you recovering from your workouts enough to hit the goals/progression set? If so then fine.

      There is no single perfect program, a lot of splits and variations will be effective. But one single training split/program is not going to be suitable for everyone, and won’t be suitable for forever.

      • Cool, Ill give it a shot for the next 3 months on my cut, make mods if necessary. May be seeking for your services for the slow bulk phase when i get to 7%.. roughly 4% more to go!

        i was like 18% bf when i found your site, great inspiration and knowledge source. thanks again!

  29. Also, what do you do on weekends? Take two rest days? Does that mean you are eating slightly below maintenance and lower carb 4 days a week?

  30. Andy, great site. Have read all those books previously and have been following Martin for a while. My only question is on RPT and why the rep range you mention, specifically for an exercise such as bench, is what would be considered to be higher than the typical strength building rep range….which I believe to be more around 3-5. This I say through practical experience and after having done a lot of reading about various powelifters and Olympic lifters. Seems to be more of a bodybuilding routine therefore is it not harder to make strength gains this way? Any comments appreciated

    • Hi Ali. Lower rep ranges have more of a strength focus, higher rep ranges more of a hypertrophy focus. There is clear overlap of course.

  31. I can’t seem to find the answer throughout the site.. but, how should women be training on IF? Same big 3? I’m not sure why but I don’t see why women need to train so heavy for bench press..shoulders, yes, but bench for women? I’m also not that educated. Thanks!

    • Hey Ally, Martin just tweeted about it:

      ‏@Martinberkhan 7 de fev
      “Just because you’re female, doesn’t mean you should train like a bitch. A bitch is a bitch. Gender got nothing to do with it.”

      I don’t see why not!

  32. Hi andy

    In which day would you suggest the trainees that using this RPT program to insert the Overhead press?

    Best regard.

    • Hi Solo,om. Can be alternated with the bench. Really depend on the client and their growth/recovery situation. See the post, “Progressing from Beginner to Intermediate Training.”

  33. Hi Andy,

    Firstly, I love the website, layout and design of how the contents are laid out – extremely user friendly and the content is unmatched.

    It’s advocated that RPT is good for a cut, OR a ‘Slow Bulk’. I’m curious as to the selection of the terminology, and my questions are:

    1) Are you advocating that only a ‘Slow Bulk’ ever be done, instead of a ‘heavy-caloric-surplus-bulk’ ? Right now my weekly surplus is at 1,400 kcals per week over maintenance.

    2) If the above is false, would beyond brawn or an alternative routine be better for a bulk with a higher caloric intake?

    I’m not intending to increase calories beyond my current by much if any, as I do want a ‘lean gain’. I’m doing full body 3x per week, with -10% / ~+30% to hit 1,400 surplus per week.



    • Hi Ian, to answer your questions:
      1. If the focus is on raw strength, then a heavy calorie surplus is the quickest way to get there, as per Rippetoe’s Gallon Of Milk A Day (GOMAD). However those focused on aesthetics won’t want to do that. Your description of “heavy-caloric-surplus-bulk” is open to too much interpretation for my liking. There is a no clear cut-off line between a slow-bulk and a dream bulk (or perhaps more accurately, a traditional bulk and a dream bulk). More context on what I consider that to be in the article, dreambulkeritis.
      2. You’re worrying too much about routines and not enough about the fundamentals of what is needed. (Progressive overload, metabolic stress, time under tension.) Key point: Any routine that gives solid strength progressions is good, feel free to choose, but don’t chop and change willy nilly before giving one a good fair go.

  34. First off, what a Great site! You are truly an altruist to the fitness enthusiast community. It seems common sense to me that one could have results using all of Martins training times as outlined on the Leangains site, (i.e. early morning fasted Monday, one meal before training Wednesday, two meals before training Friday). I’m assuming that this would be fine however if I thought I knew everything I wouldn’t be here would I?
    If it makes a difference I fit somewhere into the Intermediate lifter category, 6′, 84kg, 12% bf. (target bf, ripped, so a cut)
    Also do you have an ebook or other related material for sale. When I reach my targets I’d sure be inclined to “show a little love” as it were by helping (however humbly) to ensure this content isn’t lost to the cyber black hole due to lack of financial support. Thanks in advance and Cheers!

    -Rob, Winnipeg, Canada

    • Appreciate the thought Rob. I don’t have any plans at the moment for an e-book though. Though I will be working to improve the site, both with new articles and editing old.

  35. Andy, Out of curiosity. What are your thoughts on glycogen depletion? What is happening when you do a burnout set in combination with RPT? Why not add the extra volume? Wouldn’t that give you a large sink to consume more carbs via glycogen depletion?
    I know lifting heavy weights leads to greater muscle hypertrophy. Is that to say higher reps lower weight are doing nothing? Happy New year

    • What are your thoughts on glycogen depletion?
      Painful and unnecessary.

      More detailed:
      Glycogen depletion requires roughly 90-120 minutes of continuous work on a single muscle group, and you must use those same muscles competitively within the same day need to worry about maximal speed of glycogen restoration. If you’re not an endurance athlete, don’t concern yourself with it.

  36. Hey Andy,

    I am a little confused.

    In the big 3 program article you mention an RPT program consisting of


    All on the same day for 3 non consecutive days a week.

    Would you reccomend that program rather than splitting each lift into a different day like this article reccomends?

    My current lift numbers are

    Squat 200
    DL 260
    Bench 140

    I feel I can recover enough between workouts but I do feel pretty taxed the day after

    I have a little body fat I would like to cut before bulking again also, if that would affect my decision on which program to pick

    • Hi Ben.
      I feel I can recover enough between workouts but I do feel pretty taxed the day after
      A bit of a conflicting statement but I know what you mean. The fact is, you’re aiming to cut, so you’re not likely going to make any gains in strength while you do that, so just aim to maintain your strength for now and do the minimum you can do achieve that.

  37. Hi Andy,

    What do you think of the idea of substituting some form of a machine bench press for the bench press? I have a shoulder injury that hurts when i use free weights, but on a machine i feel that its more safer for me to use. I can go heavy on it.

  38. Hi Andy, question for you regarding RPT squats – When cutting I’m finding it extremely hard recovering from squats. I’m literally hobbling around in pain for days after. I already have issues with aching legs when cutting and the squats could be a big part of it. Can you suggest a less demanding alternative to RPT for squats only to make things a little easier on my poor old legs when I’m cutting? ;)



    • Hi Jon.
      5 sets of 5 reps, or 3 sets of 5 reps. Straight sets, meaning that the weight is the same for all sets. Less taxing as each set isn’t a max effort, the last one only is, or gets close.

  39. Hey there, Andy,

    I have chosen to cut. My current lifting routine goes as follows:
    Monday – Bench, Leg Press
    Wednesday – Chins, Squats
    Friday – Bench, deadlifts
    Is this simply too taxing on my CNS during a cut so much so that it’s necessary to switch it up?

  40. Hi Andy,

    How are you?

    What are your thoughts about the training when doing “slow bulk” ? Will it be good to do RPT and increase the reps and lower the weight (like 1x set 8reps, 2ndsetx10 reps and 3rd set x12 reps) and stay with the same big compounds movements or add some isolation movements or instead of RPT do the Beyond Brawn progressive poundage training ? Also the BCAA before fasted training must be the pure BCAA or can be the ones which are in preworkot formulas? Thank you.regards

    • Hi Tom.
      1. Focus on increasing your strength. There are multiple programs that allow for that, please don’t feel locked into one. As for the secondary exercises, see here.
      2. The total amount of BCAA/EAAs is the important part. The typical pre-workout formula by itself isn’t likely to have enough without double or triple dosing, but I can’t speak for all.

    • Nick, thanks for the comment. As with all of these things it depends on context. If you’re looking to cut and are not a beginner, then looking to maintain your strength is a good target for muscle mass preservation. People love to argue about set-rep systems but most non-idiotic routines will get the job done as long as the whole body is trained.
      If we’re talking about a bulk, then I believe that chasing strength gains should be the focus for most people primarily. There are many set-rep routines there as well that will get that job done, and there is not a single one for everyone for all times.

      Specifically to your question, if you’re talking of 1/3/5, then yes you can give that a try. However, the typical double progression system (increasing the weight, or increasing the number of reps, within a given rep range for the same weight) isn’t going to work very well because with the lower rep ranges the difference in effort needed for one extra rep represents a larger jump than making a slight increase of the weight itself.

      If you can squat 140kg (305lbs) for 3 reps, the next progression to make would be 142.5kg (310lbs) for 3 reps, not 140kg for 4 reps, because the former represents a smaller increase of intensity/effort than the latter.
      If you can squat 140kg for 8 reps, the progression to make would be the same weight for 9 reps, not 142.5kg for 8 reps, because in this case the one rep increase represents the smaller increase.

  41. Andy,
    I am sure this question has been asked before, but if you don’t mind, for my own peace of mind I will ask again:
    Due to oppurtunities that have presented themselves to me in my particualr field of work, there is now a need, at least temporarily for some sort of additional training involving target cardio training (e.g. runnning etc.)
    I am currently on a slow bulk, and as the name suggests, it has been a slow, but satisfying process. As you well know, my body is needing every last calorie and macro, and as there will obviously be some extra energy expenditure, it has me concerned.
    What days would you suggest that I incorporate this additional activity, and how do you suggest I off -set the extra energy expenditure?

  42. Hi Andy,

    Not sure if I replied to my last comment to you (apologies if not).

    Query regarding RPT in a de-load stage. When progressing into de-load to recover from the taxing on my CNS, should I drop my working weight to 80% but leave the sets and reps the same? I’m somewhat being vague and generalising this query but I could not find any specific info regarding when taking a de-load week or two still utilising RPT.


    • Hi Mark. Several ways you can approach a deload:
      1. Drop back on the lifts to ~80% for example, and take a diet break.
      Decrease volume by:
      2. Increasing number of rest days between lifts for a time.
      3. Decreasing the number of sets.
      4. Decreasing the number of reps but keeping the weight the same.

      What I wouldn’t do is combine a reduction of the max weight lifted with a deficit for any length of time.

  43. Hi Andy. I’m planning my training out to start my 12 weeks with you and I a quick RPT question. On a cut, do you prefer higher rep ranges like in your example (6-8, 8-10, and 10-12)? Would I get subpar results going for 3-5 reps on my first set with my last set being in the 6-8 rep range? Thanks.

    • Generally speaking, with trainees that had a solid program before (i.e. wasn’t riddled with fuckarounditis), whichever is closer to their current training plan. – I don’t deviate just for the sake of it.
      I mailed you about this though on Wednesday, what you have currently is fine.

  44. Hey Andy,

    I train on Sundays because my mom usually makes carby foods for my family. I train around 2:00pm (I believe that’s 14:00).

    It’s a fasted training session. Should I consume all my carbs on my first POW or can I break it up 50% / 50%?

    I thought it would be best to consume them around my workout.

    Other question is the type of carb. I know it doesn’t matter too much but I enjoy eating sweet potatoes and Cool Whip.

    I didn’t know if having a higher GI carb was better or not.

  45. Andy, can be a stupid question but for clarification, should the actual amount of weight being lifted be of the weight discs only if I want to track the stat progress?

    I’m at odds if I should calculate my progress through adding the olympic barbell (20kg) as part of the weight and the safety locks (3kg)

    (Been 4 weeks in the gym and I’m lifting 73kg (with the barbell and safety locks). Not too shabby!!


  46. Hi Andy, on Martin’s site he gives an example of a back workout, he only does 2 sets (same is true of squats in his ‘fuckarounditis’ article’, but for other exercises he does 3 sets. Is there any reason to change the number of sets, should compound stuff like squats and deads be lower sets so you can really max out the 2 sets?

    • Though I could speculate, that’s something you’ll really need to ask Martin about Richard. At the end of the day though, there will be individual differences and you should feel free to experiment with what gives the best rate of progress. – This is because if you’re advanced enough to use a full split like this be able to play around with things and assess.

  47. Hi Andy,
    Great site! I’m 5’3 at 128lbs, just completed Insanity and feeling very fit cardio wise BUT not so strong as I was before. Also I let my diet slip a bit over the past month as I was expending so much energy I was hungry all the time.
    I have a set of dumb bells and a chin up bar but I don’t have a bar for squats and bench press. Can I do this with my dumbbells? Even though I have limited weights for them.
    Also, I can do 4 chin ups without assistance at the moment but I find them extremly difficult. Do you recommend negatives to help me progress?

    • Hi Sam.
      Yes, the most important thing for a beginner like yourself is progressive overload.
      Use bands to assist you with chinups. Put, “Band assisted chin-ups” into youtube.

  48. Hi Andy

    Im curious about what I read on this site stating that you can pick military press OR bench press and focus on that movement. One thing I’m wondering, is surely if you use Bench Press as your main movement your shoulders wont be worked? Or if you pick military press (which I am more inclined to), your chest wont grow?

    • The bench most certainly works your shoulders. The overhead press works the chest indirectly, but the growth will not be as pronounced as if you did direct chest work.

      • So Military press as my main movement, supplemented with push ups will atleast be enoguh to maintain my pecs, and perhaps even enhance them?

        • Yes bud, and there is a world of push-up variations that can be performed. Check out some of Eric Cressey’s stuff on youtube.

  49. Here’s an interesting one for ya. I’m 28, and my weight has been in the 230 lbs range for a few years now. In April, I decided I wanted to get those high school abs back before I turn 30 so I was referred to IF by a friend and found your site. First, I got my diet in order with regular workouts and dropped down to 227 in a few months. 3 weeks ago, I started doing the 3-day split RPT while truly focusing on strength and gains in the gym. Although, I have been cutting (-30%/-10%), this week my average weigh-ins have been around 237. What’s weird is I look more defined now than a month ago. Is it even possible for someone to gain 10 lbs on a cut or am I making a mistake somewhere? I’m already a large guy (6’3, 238, “muscular-fat”, 17% BF) so my primary goal is to drop into the single digits but I seem to be bulking.

    • Hi Rob, it’s probably just a water weight flutuation. Water will be taken into the muscles when you start a resistance training program, so that can account for it. See my other notes on water in the FAQ.

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  51. Hi Andy,
    What are your thoughts on user http://www.reddit.com/u/31minutes 2-set RPT program he supposedly got from a consultation with Martin? (He claims that a third set is useless, and to only ever aim for 1 rep more on the back-off set).

    I used to train Squat/Bench/Row twice a week and Deads/OHP once a week, and now I’m doing a 3-day split just like your (and his) program with some added exercises. I’m just concerned that doing 1 topset and 1 backoff set is not enough given the very low volume.


    • Hi Jerry. I haven’t read that person’s post so I really can’t comment. If Martin set someone up on a two set routine then I am sure he had good reasons, but unless you know those reasons then what makes you believe this applies rather then the standard 3 set model.

      A consultation means that the suggestion was specific to their situation. In my post, What Makes a Good Diet Coach? I talk about the importance of giving the answer to clients. Have a read of that section because it may apply.

      When working with someone advice is given on an individual basis, therefore it’s always going to conflict in some places. Trying to extrapolate from the advice given to one person and apply to all is a mistake I see a lot. While discussion forums can be a valuable place for information, they also drive people to unnecessary frustration and ruin if they don’t realise this fact.

      Does that help?

  52. Hi Andy,

    I was wondering two things:
    1) I can do about 10 chins, I have trouble working up to 15. Any tips?
    2) What kind of set/rep scheme do you recommend for dips on RPT?

    Thanks !


    • Jerry, thanks for the questions.
      1. Add in weight to your chins to build strength. Another method is Pavel’s Grease the groove. Google it. Stick to one style though obviously.
      2. Same as bench.

  53. Hi mate, Im already 9% body fat and wanting to continue getting leaner while maintaining muscle. My diet is pretty much bang on, but I’m wondering how my weights sessions should be in terms of volume and intensity? Is it a case of just working the muscles to maintain them and no more or should I be aiming to lift heavier each week and keep intensity high? Also should i be sticking to lower reps strength style training only or should i be doing the higher rep pump style hypertrophy style training? I just want the most optimal style of training to help me continue getting leaner and don’t want to think I’m missing out on something by not doing a certain type of training.

    Thank you


    • David, thanks for the question.
      Is it a case of just working the muscles to maintain them and no more or should I be aiming to lift heavier each week and keep intensity high?
      If you can lift heavier with good form, do it. Whether you are able to do this depends largely on your training experience.
      There is no need to change your training up to pump training when cutting.

      • Thanks Andy,

        Do you think you can briefly explain the reason behind reducing the volume and training strength style while cutting? Iv just deluded myself into thinking that the pump style training will keep me pumped up and muscles full while cutting and give more of a calorie burn to my workouts so its becoming hard for me to stop doing it. If you could tell me why its not needed and that strength training on its own is enough that would be great!

        Thanks again


        • Less volume = less demands on CNS, thus more deficit that can be achieved with the same stress threshold before it becomes an issue.
          If you have been doing the pump style training and are used to it then you can keep to that, but reduce volume.

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  55. Hey so I want to know if I can do a 4 day split based off Jim WENDLER’s 5/3/1 program. So 4 days higher carbs & 3 days lower carbs? I know the results might be a bit slower but I’m fine with that.

    On my overhead press day I was thinking maybe stay with the same amount of carbs or should I decrease them a bit?

    Awesome site man thanks for everything!

    • Yes do it then adjust accordingly, ‘Walter’.
      Not worth getting as detailed as changing your carb intake per the workout regimen as you suggest.

      • Thank you man you’re awesome but I never got an e-mail saying you replied. Not sure if you watch breaking bad but that’s my online name !

        • Of course, it’s brilliant. But you should use your real name, I nearly didn’t reply when asking for advice from people I think.

          I have spent my whole life scared, frightened of things that could happen, might happen, might not happen, 50-years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at three in the morning. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I sleep just fine. What I came to realize is that fear, that’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So, get up, get out in the real world and you kick that bastard as hard you can right in the teeth.

  56. Hi Andy, sorry for another question but is the RPT style still good for making good gains on a bulk? I am looking through reddit and most people say that RPT is not optimal for bulking. Is this true and if it is, why is it not optimal?

    • There is no such thing as optimal for everyone, it’s all about how you respond. Is the RPT training giving you strength gains when bulking? – Then stick to it. Training isn’t the only piece of the puzzle though.

  57. Hi Andy,

    Trying to find decent advice to adapt some of this workout towards a female physique is making me a little nuts so maybe you can help.

    Bench press – as I’m always following M. Rippoetoe for form etc…..wondering for a female chest, I am interested in your opinion on doing incline and decline only??? I don’t really want to build or cut right on top of my cleavage that would look really strange or am I over thinking my ability to create that much muscle definition?

    Thank you for your time :)

  58. I have been working out for like 3 years now,this is my current routine:
    Lower 1/Pull (More hamstring dominant)
    RPT Deadlifts-3 sets: 3,4,5 (Increase at 5,6,7)
    Leg Extensions-1 set:12-15(easy)
    Leg Curls-2 sets:8-12 (hard)
    RPT Weighted Chins-3 sets: 4,6,8 (Increase at 6,8,10)
    Lat Pulldowns: 2 sets:8-12
    Bicep Curls: 2 sets of 12-15

    Upper Push/Calves
    RPT Bench Press-3 sets: 6,8,10 (Increase at 8,10,12)
    DB Bench Press-2 sets of 12-15
    RPT Military DB Press-2 sets of 8,10 (Increase at 10,12)
    Side laterals-1 easy set of 15
    Tricep Pushdowns-2 sets of 12-15
    Calf raises: 3 sets:8-12
    Calf Extensions: 1 set:12-15

    Lower 2/Pull (More Quad dominant)
    RPT Squats-3 sets: 6,8,10 (Increase at 8,10,12)
    Leg Extensions-2 sets:12-15 (hard)
    Leg Curls-1 set:8-12 (easy)
    RPT Weighted Chins-3 sets: 4,6,8 (Increase at 6,8,10)
    Lat Pulldowns: 2 sets:8-12
    Bicep Curls: 2 sets of 12-15

    I alternate the training days like this : Lower 1/pull__X__Upper push/calves__X__Lower 2/pull__X__X__Upper push/calves__X__Lower 1/pull__X__Upper push/calves__X__X__
    The x’s are rest days and above is a 2 week sample of my training
    I’m currently cutting and my main lifts have been kept constant during my cut, the cut has been going on for like 18 weeks(although i switched to maintenance for about 4 weeks because i had a stressful time because of my finals and couldn’t hold the caloric deficit).Would you advise me to change something in my training?When starting a bulk, would this training be advised?

  59. Hi!
    How can I incorporate overhead press into this program? Is it okay if I do that exercise on squat day after squats? Or would that be too much stress on the CNS? Thanks!

  60. Hi Andy,
    I started IF (6 hour eating window) in the middle of last year along with a typical training program and have went from 65kg to 62kg in 12 weeks (http://s3.postimg.org/9o8rkrso3/Change.jpg).
    After that I have been trying this Three Day Split RPT Routine for 6 months. During this period I have noticed some gains especially in the chest even though all I’ve done is Bench. I realised I wasn’t gaining that much muscle so I stopped IF starting this week and started eating more. Here are my stats from last week:
    Age: 20, Height: 171cm, Weight: 65kg
    Deadlifts: 102.5×5, 95×6, 90×7
    Weighted Chins: 90×5, 80×7, 75×8
    Bench: 70×5, 67.5×6, 62.5×8
    Dips: 95×3, 90×6, 85×8
    FRIDAY (I don’t like this day, it takes me 45 mins to get to the gym but I only workout for 15 mins):
    Squats: 102.5×7, 97.5×8, 92.5×9

    And here are some pictures I took today: http://s21.postimg.org/ghmt4vk1z/180613.jpg
    To be honest I still think my chest is tiny. I measured it and it’s only 89cm/35inch. I want to change Wednesday to do Incline Dumbbell Press, Decline Bench Press and Pushups. Do you think switching away from Flat Bench and Dips to this is beneficial?

    Finally what is the best advice you can offer me based on my stats and images?


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  62. Can a 16 yr old (16th birthday in 3 days) follow these guidelines? I’ve (53 yr old Mom of said 16 yr old) been following these guidelines for the past 4 weeks, results are amazing! 16 yr old son is pretty lean (5’11″, 160 lbs), on varsity tennis team. He is motivated to increase strength to aid his tennis game and we are looking to get into a good routine this summer. He will be playing tennis most days (2-3 hrs/day). Should he (or can he at his age) also work in IF with his lifting (IF working great for me!!) Thanks for all you do!

      • why? because of volume? what makes RPT better than adding weight once you can get all five reps? could we do it that way with two or three sets instead of five? also, can we do form practice on our “off” days? i know it doesn’t help add size, i just like to exercise more than three days a week.

  63. My routine is

    A – Squat, bench press, rows, overhead press
    B – Deadlift, bench press, chin up, overhead press

    ABA every week. All 4×6-10.

    Increase weight when hit 9 or 10 reps.

    How is it?

  64. Hi Andy,

    I am on IF right now and doing 3 day RPT and on cutting phase; i train 3 times a week and i am thinking/interested in boxing classes,which are also 3 times a week.i’m thinking to keep my 3 gym sessions/ heavy lifts 3 days a week and do the boxing ( very intensive sparrings etc. ) 2 days a week,which will altogether be 5 days of training.weekend off,which means only 2 days of rest and also following the diet 5 days of higher amount of carbs.Do you think it is good way to keep things moving in to direction of having ripped body or there will be not enough rest and the boxing classes will ruin the whole system?or do you think that i should decide whether to do boxing or the gym training to achieve the similar results to the ones people posted on your website?.thank you.regards

    • Will not ruin the whole system, but may slow things down, or not be appropriate depending on your level and commitment to both the lifting and boxing.
      As a general recommendation I would calculate as usual (3 days training) then increase the carbs on a per Krav Maga session basis.

  65. Hi, great site with good info, I’m goin to ty this routine, would it be a disaster to move squats to Thursday? Just I can’t train Friday till Monday, thanks in advance.

  66. Hey Andy Questions on too many exercises using big three split.

    I am a 90kg 6″2′ Male with 1RM as following:
    Deadlift: 190kg
    Squat: 155kg
    Bench: 100kg

    Should I cut any of the ancillary exercises from my current routine ?

    Standing Strict Press
    Pull Ups

    Penlay Row
    Calf Raise


  67. Hello Andy,

    I’m back in the gym after some time off and have been doing pretty good with the old fashioned 3 days ON, 1 day OFF routine that I’m used to.

    Getting straight to my question or apprehension I guess.

    I’m an old schooler and I’m having trouble getting my head around the fact that this workout is enough. According to your method I would only be benching, squatting and dead-lifting once a week: No Bi’s, Tri’s, Delts, Abs and any of the other detail work that I’m used to?
    I’m the kind of person that will follow a program to the “T”, but I guess I have to admit that I have a block. Not a “this is too good to be true” block, because I enjoy my current work outs, but more so of a “I want to make sure I’m reaching my goals” concern.
    Cardio is another crutch of mine. Fat reduction is always my priority so “No Cardio” is your other point that I cant stop questioning. I started off as a Fat Boy so I guess I have issues.

    It seems to me by looking at your workout that you are in and out of the gym in about 30 min?

    I switched to your diet only a week ago (I was on very low carb <20g per day to loose the fat quickly) and I have absolutely no problem with it (initially I thought the fat was too low in general and the carb too high on Training Days (old schoolin' again).

    My final point is that I will follow a good leader in absolute every detail, I just want some reassurance I guess.

    Your time and advice is greatly appreciated, I'm putting it to work immediately on my next workout – tomorrow.


  68. Hi andy,

    Just wandering why u advise palms facing for chins?? Is is simply less stress on wrist or another reason…cheers

    • Palms facing is a chin-up. Palms away is a pull-up.
      Though there are slight differences, both target roughly the same muscles. So why choose one over the other?
      Well, muscle activation of both are roughly equal when a full rep range is used. However, the practical reality is that though most people will do chins with a good range of motion, tell them to do pull-ups and the form goes to shit, or it becomes a held-assed rep.
      Hence the recommendation for chins over pull-ups.

      I think I read this first from Martin. Then I had a look around and was forever noticing it from then on.

      • Right ok thanks andy….i just had myself a little confused to be honest, when u said palms facing, i thought u meant palms facing each other not facing yourself like martin recommends…thanks for the clarification!

  69. Hi Andy.
    Please follow my logic and comment on any flaws.

    Suppose that I’m eating too much carbs for the amount of excercises I have, but I’m having it consistent over a long period of time (ok, not long but noticable, say 3 month). Suppose also that my routine is sub-optimal for those 3 basic excercises and two-three assistant.
    And I just stick to it. That’s an “input”.

    What I think should happen is I would gain strength up to the point when it would become efficient and maybe I would get some bodyfat % increase. Now, if I stick to macros and routine I have already set up as a habit the fat would start going away, right? So, in brief, one should not worry about macros and routine (unless he’s doin some crazy stuff like bosu ball kettlebell one feet bouncing) and just keep going, it all would balance itself over time.
    Am I missing something?

    • Sorry Igor, you lost me here:
      “What I think should happen is I would gain strength up to the point when it would become efficient and maybe I would get some bodyfat % increase.”

      • Sorry, English is my second language :)

        I’ll just try once again:

        If I continue to just do the routine and eating as described (non-effective in some sense, too much carbs), I would just get stronger to the point when it become effective, right? The destination would be the same, but the time passed to get there would differ from “uber-optimal dieting”.

  70. Hey Andy, awesome post. However I had a couple of questions:
    -Would it be a good idea to add a shoulder press/ push press exercise into one of these days?
    -I usually sprint once a week (Sometimes twice). Do you think it’s a bad idea if I were to take on a 10 minute set of interval sprints after one or more of these days? I usually do it on a non-training day but just wanted to get your opinion.

  71. Hi Andy,

    A quick question for the push ups – should they be done to failure for both sets or (like pull ups) should we stop just short of failure?


  72. Hey Andy
    I love what you’ve shared and it’s inspired me to cut
    I’m currently doing the 3 day split.
    But i feel like I’m not doing enough each day. Is there other exercises that i can do to combine with dead, bench and squat to increase progress on a daily basis?

  73. Manny,

    You need to tuck your chin in man. You need to put your spine in the neutral position in order to have correct form when dead lifting. Another thing you need to do is post a NEW video and show everyone how you are grabbing the bar and your technique as you are lifting the bar off the ground. We cant tell anything with that furniture in the way. I would recommend going on YouTube and searching Mark Riptoe’s deadlift videos. This guy has written extensive books on exercise form and you should probably watch some of these videos to see what you are doing wrong. Hope this helps. Best Regards, John.

    • I think you mean Richard, I was the one who suggested the foam roller, not the one asking the question. Simple mistake. :)

  74. In “Beyond Brawn.” McRobert constantly stressed through out the book that squatting for 20 reps is best. I was wondering what your thoughts were on this?

  75. Hi Andy,

    Really enjoy everything you’ve shared.
    I started on your simplified macro program. I’m about 268lbs. 6’3″.
    Cutting with Katch-McArdle calculations I should be Training Day 2509 and Rest Day 1596. Previous 5 weeks, my weight stayed the same with some body comp improvement, except around the waist (no change). I cheated a bit last week so I am up to 270 lbs.

    Should I drop overall calories in order to lose more fat?
    Macros Pro 220, Fat 70 Tdays, 50 Rdays, Carbs 295 Tdays, 17 Rdays.
    Would love to get your input.
    I was pretty low carb before all this, so I initially put on 4 pounds from water, I guess.

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  77. Hey Andy,

    Hope all is well. Just a quick question. What are the typical weights that most of your clients reach and do they compare well to my lifts.

    My sister and I started full body using Rippetoe’s program late last year but had to stop because my sister herniated her disk. So we started back up in January and I’ve been keeping her lifts low increasing it very slowly (she was at a 162.5lbs squat when she got hurt).

    My lifts currently are:

    Squat: 220lbs x 5
    Bench:162.5lbs x 5
    Deadlift: 215lbs x 5
    Press: 105lbs x 5
    Chins:30lbs x 5
    Pull-Ups: 20lbs x 5

    I want to be bigger. Obviously I should move more weight and get my lifts up but what should my gals be to have your type of body. You have the physique I am going for. What are your current lifts, Andy, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated! Have a great day, man!

    • “What are the typical weights that most of your clients reach and do they compare well to my lifts.”
      There is no “typical” client. Have a look at the results page as there are some people’s lifting stats listed. or just follow the two links at the bottom of this article.

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  80. Hey Andy mate, just to let you know the backs feeling much better – going to rest it for 2 more weeks though (from dead’s) – I’ve decided for the next two weeks to do
    week 1: bench monday, squat wednesday, bench fri
    week 2: squat monday, bench wed, squat fri

    I assume that will be ok and isn’t detrimental to my training? but to add to that, should I try increase the weight still even though i’d be doing it twice in one week? Cheers mate hope all is good.

        • Check out Eric Cressey’s stuff on the deadlift. Easy wins for you though are:
          1.Keep your chin tucked.
          2. Make sure you pause the weight on the floor. – Dead (stop) lift.
          3. Keep your lumbar spine straight at all times.
          4. Change the radio station, it’s likely that the chav-rap was distracting you. Oh yes, yup I just went there!
          For anyone reading and thinking of asking similarly: I will not be commenting on any more videos. I’ll be inundated with them if I do and don’t have the time I am afraid, I’m struggling to keep up with the comment answers as it is.

        • Hey m8, I rested from squats and deadlifts for months after hurting my back, only to go back to the gym, do a few quats, and my back giving out. Thought I was out of the game for good.

          Then I bought a foam roller. A cheap one for about £14 (off myprotein), and OMG this is probably one of the best investments I’ve made in my gym equipment so far.

          Basically you roll on it with you back, and it will really kill. You’ll think there is no way this is good for you, and that’s how it always feels like. But after doing it for 2 weeks, I literally could roll on the thing with no pain whatsoever, and could start doing squats and deadlifts again without pain. Though my left lower back will always be a bit weaker, it hasn’t stopped me progressing in strength. Seriously buy a foam roller, they cost about £20, and it will do more good for you than resting will, trust me on this.

  81. Hi Andy,

    Great website!

    Have been IF’ing for a while and just started the RPT approach, been going quite well but I have a question for you regarding the weighted dips mentioned in some of the posts.

    When you say weighted dips are fine in addition to bench press, do you mean tricep dips or chest dips (i.e. wider grip)?

    I am wondering if weighted chest dips, with the wider grip and therefore increased bicep use, may adversely impact performance on chin ups and bicep size.



  82. Hey Andy,

    First off, great site. This and LG are my go-to places for what I’m trying to achieve.

    I love to sprint, but am trying to use the leangains system to cut right now, so I know my recovery is stunted. Would it be okay to replace, say, one squat day per month or two per month with days of 20 minutes intense (100% effort) interval sprinting? I feel like REALLY intense interval sprinting makes me just as sore as a really intense squat day. Thanks.

  83. Hi Richard, I hear you with understanding. Welcome to my world.

    The doc may order an MRI in which case good. Knowing what is happening will help you train around it. A stuffed back stops you from training long term so don’t push it. Most people are walking around with a herniated disc without knowing, sometimes we aggravate it and then we “have a bad back”.

    If you have a herniated disc all is not lost as most people have one. In a couple of weeks of total rest (6 if bad), it will have settled down. But rearrange your training around it. Form now becomes critical on DL and squats. Consider alternatives, eg belt squats, use a trap bar for DL, etc. Seated BB press instead of standing. Supported DB rows instead of BB. You may need to augment your core a bit more due to dropping some of the main compounds.

    I suggest you can continue with bench, dip, chins, etc during repercussion period as long as they don’t aggravate your injury. You can safely have a 2 week break from squat and DL without going backwards. If you then restart these then drop your weights to 80% and work back up slowly over the next 4 weeks, focusing on form. Or try some of the alternatives I’ve suggested.

    Best of luck

    • Thanks for the long detailed response, Daz! To my surprise my back feels better now (after 2-3 days) last time this happened it was hurting for a week, so what I had planned was to take a break from DL (see how squat goes tomorrow before I put that off) – but yeah, take a break from DL’s for 2-3 weeks and maybe just do a shoulder day or possibly do barbell rows and a few other small back exercises, because I want to be doing _something_ as I feel all flabby and horrible if i don’t haha!

      Thanks anyway! :) If there is any more advice I’ll happily take it :)!

  84. Hey Andy mate, so after all these good results I seem to have screwed my back up two weekss, either during deadlift or squat, can’t really pinpoint where it happened as I just can’t remember as I thought it’d go away, I took a week off from squatting and deadlift and just did a few rest days and bench as normal.. but today I went into the gym again did some deadlifts, got through two sets (with a weight increase) but then I really couldn’t carry on, I attempted the third set and the excruciating pain.. like sat here now writing this the pain is quite horrific, especially if I have to get up and move, after the week rest it did get better and I think it was a mistake to lift again this week, but I need an alternative, I can’t not do something, I want more results but obviously my well being is probably more important – as far as I know my deadlift form is correct, I can provide a video if you’d like to check if you have time.. But are there any alternatives or is rest the only key? I mean I don’t mind resting but I’m not sure how to be eating during this phase, as I want to burn fat whilst resting too so I can still get some results. The only other thing I was thinking maybe changing my deadlifts for bent over rows or something? Hope you can help, feel awful right now mentally and physically :(

      • Thought you’d say that, haha. It is pretty bad like.. but last time it got better over a week, which is what tempts me not to see a doctor (I’ll take your advice and go, anyway) for the safe side.. but I don’t want to listen to a doctor in terms of my training, so could you provide some insight on how I can deal with this?

        • Rich the best advice I can give is for you to see a specialist. Your GP may be pretty worthless but a sports-specialist doctor or Physio is going to know what’s up. The body is complicated. I’ve had pains in my knee that originated from a foot arch problem. Shoulder inflexibility that was due to tightness in a pec. The back the most complex regarding injury and the possibilities. I can’t possibly give blanket advice, nor would it be responsible to do so. I know this isn’t the helpful answer you’re looking for but it’s what you have to do if it’s as painful as you say.

          • Thanks for the advice again, as I said to Daz below, after 3 days it’s feeling much better now, but I’m gonna rest it for longer obviously as it’d be dumb to think its ok, the first day was horrendous though, not sure what happened. I was more looking for the advice like, how should I eat if I was to take a 2-3 week break from the gym entirely and still lose fat :) – would I do high fats and low carbs everyday for 2 weeks? or would it just make sense to eat like 400-500 cal less than maintenance?

            • I literally just injured my back yesterday. I have to take at least two weeks off (by order of the chiropractor). From what I gather, if you are not weight training, it is advisable to eat at maintenance to stop muscle loss, plus eating under maintenance will only extend your recovery time. Put your fat loss ambitions on hold, rest up, and come back stronger when your are better.

              I’m taking two weeks at maintenance with no training. It sucks, I know. Its the longest I have gone without training in years, and I’m not looking forward to it. But I’m going to try and think of it as a deload and/or diet break, and come back stronger. In the words of my chiro “the back, especially the lower back, is best not to fuck with”.

              Hope this helps Richard

  85. Hey Andy,

    Thanks for the great site. Quick question lets say I am doing the second set and failed to reach the targeted reps I mean even the minimum amount of reps? What should be the cause of action?

  86. Andy–

    I’m a proponent of ketogenic diets and their ability to induce rapid and efficient fat loss. Studies have shown that even one large carbohydrate-containing meal (such as tri-weekly post-workout meal that is prescribed by LG) can derail not only the process of ketosis, but keto-adaptation as well. How do you explain the efficiency of your diet/training program with respect to fat loss if you are constantly hindering FAO via insulin spikes several times per week. I’m thinking I can probably do LG without the additional carbs on the training days, just increase my protein intake (a process that spikes insulin a bit, but may increase glucose/glycogen stores by GNG). The result, I imagine, would be reduced gains compared to if I was consistently refeeding after my lifts. Thanks for your site, it is a very interesting resource!



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  89. Hi Andy, 2 quick questions.

    My gym only has a smith machine, dumbbells, and a few machines. Would it be better to use dumbbells for bench press and a leg press machine for squats, or should I use the smith machine for all those? And will using a smith machine for deadlifts work?

    • Better to use the free weights provided you aren’t injured. Leg press is fine, better than a smith squat probably. Though the pro’s and con’t can be debated. It is not a direct substitute for a free bar squat though.

  90. So Andy, I only have a problem with one thing you have me expecting… and that is spending no more than 40-60 minutes in the gym on any lift day. I’m finding it really difficult on Deadlift/chin-up day to finish in less than 90 minutes, sometimes more, with a full 5-10 minute warm up, 4-5 warm-up sets, 3 Deadlift sets, then move to 3 chin-up warm up sets, 3 chin-up sets, and then 5-10 cardio/stretch for cool down. This is also the only day with 2 full lifts in one session. Please, what am I doing wrong? I know there’s an RPT learning cure to get the weekly rhythm down and this is only week 2 but maybe im doing chins wrong?


      • Sorry Andy, but 3 exercises? You mean just do deads, bench and squats each week? I’m just describing Fridays when my wife and I do deads, followed by chin-ups.

        Not sure where my arm work will come in if I cut out chin-ups.

        • When doing just those two exercises you should be able to complete the workout in an hour.
          When doing 3 it may be more.
          Thinking that deadlifts don’t work the arms is a mistake.

  91. Andy: Assuming you wanted to include some standing presses for added shoulder development (I assume that is the move you’d do for more direct shoulder work), were would you put in within the context of the 3-day routine? On Bench Day? or Squat Day? Thanks.

  92. Hi Andy, since it is not a week for official emailing, will follow guidelines and ask here. When does one decide to just go for twice a week training as opposed to three times per week (Martin has used this model at times, and it has to do apparently with recovery issues when the weights are actually heavy). Thanks for your input!

    • Rare I would suggest that. If it’s a recovery issue, better to reduce training volume in some other way first. Number of sets, number of exercises. Don’t rush to change things though.

      • I understand that. but as far as the DL goes, i cannot go any lower in volume and i find that when i can DL in PR zone, i cannot recover in over a week (trend from last 3 weeks), and it affects Squats on Friday as well. So i cannot be DLing weekly -as it seems-. If not going for 2/week, then perhaps DLing once every two weeks and in between something else on that day… Front Squats? RDLs?

  93. On the warm-up sets is there a break between them? Like how long? For example

    I do 5 reps of a squat with just the bar, then add some weight for the second warm-up set, how much time inbetween each warm-up set?

      • Thanks. So for example my top set for deadlift is 90kg

        so I’d do for a warmup:

        Bar x5
        +20% x5
        +40% x5
        +60% x5
        +80% x2

        (as an example) then have a 3 minute rest and start properly?


          • Ok, so I’ve been warming up with the way I wrote above your comment, but after more reading through comments you said to someone you do 5 sets of warmup with the bar? Was that an error on your part in your reply to him? Or do you actually do 5 sets of warm-up with the bar, then add 20% of top-set weight – if so, do you do 5 sets with 20% too? or just one..

            • It really depends on the day. Many days, yes I do 5 sets with the bar. Feel out any stiffness and stretch/foam roll that part and then practice my form. Doesn’t take long but it’s essential given my own personal limitations.

          • Alright, thanks for your help, basically what I’ve taken from this is, do whatever feels right for me to warm-up, so I’ll do 5 sets in total (1 set with bar, 1 set with 20% & so on until I reach 70/80%) – as it was working for me. No need to reply for this unless you think I should do it differently :) thanks again

      • Oh and I also don’t understand this sentence..

        Go to failure on your ‘top-set’. For the ‘back-off’ sets, go one rep short of failure, but still push yourself REALLY HARD.

        Does that mean if I’m doing my top-set 4-6 reps and I can do more, for example I get to 9, does that mean in my first back-off set i will do 8?

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  95. Hey Andy

    I am currently cutting on a 3 day RPT routine where D1 is DLs and Chin ups, D2 was Bench press and pushups and D3 is Squats and calf raises.

    A few weeks ago i started feeling pain in my shoulder when pressing so I had to cut out D2 exercises completely as any pressing movement including pushups as they would just aggravate the pain.

    I don’t have a problem with OHP though so I have substituted D2 exercises with OHP and I am thinking about adding an easy on my shoulder triceps exercise (press downs perhaps?).

    Do you think my substitutions are ok or do you see room for improvement? I just feel so restricted in my upper body exercise options and it’s getting frustrating…

    I’d really appreciate your help!


    • You’re going to need to see a specialist physio so you know what exercises are safe to do. You’ll want to try and match volume as previously, if possible, presuming that it was working before.

  96. Yo Andy! Hope things are well.

    My wife and I just started our 3 day split last night and were extremely excited to finally put heavy lifting and a very dedicated eating plan together at long last. We had to let go of CrossFiting due to a pay cut but were using it as an opportunity to push ourselves in a whole new way, so thank you for the guidance! I hope to train others full time one day, so taking on myself and my wife for the next 6 months will be my first 2 clients. She gave my a beautiful son and I hope to give her the body she’s always wanted!

    2 quick training questions about chin ups for the both of us and adding lunges for her:

    Chin-ups: I am 6’4″, 245lbs, and I can only do 9-10 chins, in a row, max, with my body weight and perfect form. In the past I would 3 times per week do 6 sets x 5 reps of chins, with 60 seconds rest in between each set. This gave me some growth but obviously, I want much more. What would you suggest to help me grow to weighted, or should I be doing that already but just with very little added weight?
    I have my wife doing negatives, 3 sets x 5 reps as she can’t perform any clean reps at her body weight. I’m considering getting her some bands so she can have more control. What do you suggest?


    My wife loves to power lift but wants to always give her glutes some extra attention each week also, I was wondering where (or if) you would plug weighted lunges into the week to support a little extra booty development. I was considering putting it after Deadlift for her on Mondays. What would you suggest?

    Thanks for the help!

      • 1) Ok great, so no matter what the weight/band, do what challenges you to stay within the rep scheme.

        2) Sorry but I cant find any “hip thrust” in any exercise data base. Did you mean at the top of each squat or was that a euphemism?

          • Thank you for continuing to explain Andy, truly!

            2. The hip thrust looks very effective, I think my wife wants to program it and lunges in for the occasional Saturday workout. But, is this too much work that will take away from the next week???

            1. Chin-ups… good lord are they frustrating! Not that I can’t do them, but because I cant do them weighted yet, its really hard to get 3 warm up sets that have any progression to them. Should I not go any lower than body weight? Should I do jumping ones to warm up? How to you “lower the weight” 10-15% when your Top Set was body weight 6-8??? Should I just right you a consultaion e-mail instead of whining in the comments? Thanks!

            • 1. It should never be occasional, only ever purposeful. It may take away from the following week, it all depends.
              2. Do band-assisted chin-ups. The stronger the band the easier they are.

  97. I rotate bw lifting heavy (3reps rpt) for strength 3x a week for 8 weeks then higher volume 10 reps just for a couple weeks when I try to put on some mass…
    I was wondering what your opinion on throwing hang cleans in when I lift heavy… I hear a lot of people swear them as being fifth behind the main 4..

  98. I’ve asked a lot of people about this routine and nearly all of them say working out a muscle once a week is not enough… especially with only 4-5 sets. What do you think?

    • Well Shawn, what do you think I think? I did write the article after all. Is there anything about this article that you may have missed? Did you read the others on training as they are a set? The above is not a blanket recommendation.

  99. While on a cut, would you recommend ditching all the small exercises. (eg; biceps,triceps,raises,flys) Just two, heavy ass compound lifts on workout days and get out of the gym??? Thanks.

  100. Andy,
    I came across your site and I’m excited to see some great info on Reverse Pyramid training. I just finished Randy Herring Reverse Pyramid Bench 300 in 12 weeks. Truly an amazing program. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/randy14.htm
    I was skeptical about using reverse pyramid, as are many of your commenters. I think of Reverse Pyramid training as a form of high intensity, low volume training. It works! Go into the gym, work hard, focus on intensity and form, then walk out the door and let the growth begin. This is a tough conceptualization for many people who have been doing the same type of pyramid training since high-school (myself included). Thanks for the great dialogue.

  101. Hi Andy,

    As requested, I will ask in the comments section:

    I’ve been following my macros for 4 weeks now and I’m seen huge progress, absolutely love it!

    Up until now I have been training 3 times a week with heavy weight training as recommended above, however, I only have access to weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I have just been invited to join a regular swim club on Tuesdays and Thursday’s.

    I was worried that this might be too many training days in a week, how should I go about it, and what should I do with my macros on those swim days?


    • If you are making good gains with your lifts then to add extra training right now may be too much initially and cease your gains. I guess you know this so… onward anyway:
      Swimming is an interesting one. We cant to maintain our current calorie balance for the week where possible so we will want to add calories. Swimming burns a load of energy, not due to the exercise itself per-se but because of the thermal load. – You burn a load of energy keeping your core at 37-39 degrees. Basically you have to just guess. Choose a carb number per hour of being in the pool and stick with that on these days. Then track your progress and adjust accordingly. Change nothing else about your routine during this time.

  102. Hey Andy. I really want to give this program a go. I have been lifting for several years… currently 10% bf at 165lbs (5’10). I’m looking to bulk up to 185 and then cut back to 170. I currently do a 4 day split (Chest-Shoulders, Back, Legs, Arms). I do about 22 sets of different exercises on each workout day. My biggest fear here is it does not look like enough. I mean on leg day I’m doing 4 sets total in the gym? I’m so used to doing much more. I’m just worried this is not nearly enough exercise to put on a good amount of muscle when bulking.

    • If you are gaining in strength in the main compound movements then you are gaining muscle, generally speaking. Look at powerlifters. Obviously I am not saying this is the only way.

  103. Hi Andy,

    You’ve got a great site. Thanks for all that you do. I started IF on 11/19, feeling great so far. My concerns are regarding training- I am a collegiate athlete and we currently lift full body 2-3 times a week and do sprint work twice. However going into winter break I will have some say in the training that I do from now until the end of January. How do you think I can best use the next 9 weeks to gain strength and improve composition? If it helps, I am 6′ 1″ 193 pounds, my best guess is 13-14% bf, currently consuming 2600 calories including 190 grams of protein in a 12-7 eating window.

    Chris D

  104. Hi again Andy!

    Where do you stand on Chin Ups? Do you agree with Jason Ferruggia that a neutral grip is superior to palms facing you??

    And when warming up for chins (or dips) do you warm up with the percentage of total weight (weight + bw) or just the weight you are using?

    Hope you can clear these up for me :)

  105. Andy – Big fan of your site, I’ve been following the program here and there (i travel a ton for work, so being consistent has been very difficult). Anyway, my bench and squat has improved consistently (squat has increased alot). But for some reason my deadlifts have not been seeing the same type of gains, in fact I am regressing. I have lost about 7lbs while going through the program which could be the issue, but I’m not sure. Any advice here?

  106. How essential are BCAA’s? I train fasted in the morning (10-11) then break my fast at 12pm.

    I’m a student and have a limited budget, do you think I really need to get them?


  107. Hi Andy!
    ….Damn, I had a question on diet break but actually searching through the comments answered all the concerns I had :)

    Well, seems that you have managed to develope a nice community here. Nice job

  108. I started IF 6 weeks ago and going to incorporate Martin’s training principles tomorrow. I have an alright physique however I am really weak. Martin says after two years I should be able to bench 1.2 bodyweight and do 8 chinups bodyweight. However my chest is extremely lacking compared to all other areas of my body. I can do 10 chinups with no weight and perfect form fine however I can barely bench my bodyweight let only 1.2x. Do you think I will be overtraining if I try the following split:

    Monday – Deadlifts, pullups
    Tuesday – Bench, dips
    Thursday – Squats, leg extensions
    Friday – Bench, pushups, chinups

    Martin says there’s no need for more than 3 days a week at the gym so I’m a bit worried but I really think my chest needs work. Also should include some shoulder press in there somewhere? My shoulders are naturally big so would bench be enough to work them?


    • “I am really weak.”
      If that is the case then you should not be squatting only one day a week. Huge mistake. Your chinning number isn’t really relevant. Do the big 3 routine three days a week. Growth takes place outside of the gym when you rest it.

  109. Is the RPT still what you would focus on with a body recomp? Also, is this basically the entirety of what you do? I’ve been at it for a month or so now, and wondering if I should add some “accessory” lifts (tri-extensions, dips, bent over rows, etc..)

  110. Thanks! Gonna leave them out. I was so beat the after day one of the split listed above that there would be no way I could add in accessories.

    Side note: Your appearance on the Jack-n-out connection podcast was awesome. Learned so much.

  111. Hi Andy!

    I’m on a cut, doing IF and starting the 3 day split
    listed below tomorrow. I was hoping that you help me
    with something. Can I do 1 or 2 light accessories while
    on this program? P-pls respond lol thanks so much!!

    Day 1 (Monday)
    Deadlift 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid style -2
    sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set weight
    Rest 5-10 mins.
    Chins – Same as deadlifts
    Pendlay Rows – 3×5 x 3 sets

    Day 3 (Wednesday)
    Bench press 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid style
    - 2 sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set weight
    Rest 5-10 mins
    Weighted Pull-ups 2-3 sets of 3-5
    Rest 5-10 mins

    Day 5 (Friday)
    Squats 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid style – 2
    sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set weight
    Rest 5-10 mins.
    Overhead Press 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid
    style – 2 sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set
    Rest 5-10 mins

  112. Hi Andy, I had a decline in power while doing yesterday’s training, deadlift and chinup. I did 70×8 kg last week for deadlift. Yesterday I could not exceed 70×6 and I did decrease the following RPT sets too.
    I have two resons in my mind to that:
    (1) Sleeping. I had bed sleeping in the last 5 days.
    (2) Overtraining. I’m afraid that I’m overtrained due to increasing weight every week.
    In both cases, What shall I do in those cases while following a strict schedule?
    And is there any suggestion to follow to avoid those cases?
    Thank you.

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  114. Great website! I just recently been introduced to I.F and implemented it 2 months ago, I love it.

    I just got myself down to 8% body fat and I plan on doing a LG Slow Bulk. Only thing I have a question with is training: Can I use this format on a bulk and just increase the rep range? Or leave the rep range and reduce rest time? I noticed on my cut I was getting sore all the time using RPT and I’d like to just keep that same format going, but focus on muscle growth and strength gains.

    Thanks so much, any advice is greatly appreciated

  115. Andy – I hope all is well. I am working my way through the two-week diet break right now. I know you do not recommend to de-load during a re-comp or cut, but I have been noticing some increasingly achy joints (including a sore elbow) and fatigued lower back (which concerns me given my injury history). A few questions:

    1) Would it be okay to de-load for the final week of my diet break?
    2) If so, should I back off on weight and volume?
    3) Would it be more effective to simply take an entire week off from training?
    4) Finally, in general, how often would you recommend a de-load while using the RPT split routine that you espouse?

    As always, thanks for your help.

    • While on a diet break we will be eating at maintenance or above, thus the risk of muscle loss is minimal. Taking a week off is perfectly fine. A de-load will depend on the individual, but I would never recommend one in a cut. Cutting volume – either by reducing the frequency of training, number of exercises, or sets of an exercise – but keeping intensity high is a better initial option than reducing weight I think.

  116. Hi andy, Love your website and thanks for posting great stuff. I emailed you before aswel when i just started doing IF about 2 months ago n i was 23% body fat and now i have cut down to 12% and im so happy but im still not happy with the shape of my chest and cant see the abs yet. My chest still bit flabby n not in shape.ATM im doing 3 workouts/wee, Mon, wed and sat(full-body). just curious and wanted to know how soon will i be able to overcome these problems. stats- 73kg, lbm-60.8kg, bf-12%, age-22. Thanks n keep us educated :d

    • Can you send me an e-mail on the personal consultations page. Fill out that form please mate. If you have done that before then the high likelihood is that your mail address was filled out incorrectly. People do it about 1 in 20 times, despite me writing “write your address, carefully” next to the box.

  117. On squat day – only do squats? How does that make up 1 hour of training? Where do I add arnhold presses, bulgarian lunges etc?

  118. hey andy,
    for some f’d up reason, i’m going to get transferred to a region with NO GYM! any exercises you can recommend to get me through until I get back to civilization? thanks!

  119. Hey Andy,
    I’ve just finished WK01D02 (Incline Bench / Decline Pushups). 5 minutes on the treadmill, 5 minutes joint warmups,workout and 5 minute cool down and I’m done in less than an hour.

    This got me to thinking (overthinking?) am I on point to only be doing 3 sets of bench total? I was pushed to my max on my top set then one short of max on the remaining 2 sets, but somehow feel I should be running through the whole routine again once or twice.

    Maybe I’m just used to more? Waiting for that big burn…maybe my strategy has been off with my previous workouts (prior to your method) and I need to have faith ;) Maybe I missed a key instruction or I’m just over-thinking this.

    Can you let me know?

    On my pushups (2 sets total with 3 min in between) I pumped out 20 with legs elevated and then 30 for the second / final set and could have done more reps / felt like I should do 3 or four sets instead of two. Should I be looking at a weighted vest here? I just don’t want to be under-training.

    From what I can tell from reading the post on the ’3 day split’ it’s one time through each exercise, 3 sets total for each (not counting warm up sets).

    I’ve been waiting for muscle fatigue, pumps, some muscle soreness a day or two later (maybe because I’ve come accustomed to believe this is a sign of hard work), but not getting much of this to speak of.

    Thanks and my apologies if this has been covered to death.

    • The goal of training is to increase in poundage in that session, or (for those more advanced) to facilitate the build up to an overload event that will lead to you getting stronger, not the feeling of the burn or anything else.

      • I hear you Andy – just want to make sure it’s one time through (3 sets total). I do understand that the goal each week is to increase the weight, be it the top sets, back up sets or all three as one is able.

        I just want to insure my short workout was done correctly and that on push-ups, for example, I shouldn’t be doing more (i.e. max reps vs 15-20 as noted, or adding a weighted vest, for example, to the push-up sets.)

  120. Hi Andy!
    I see that everyone using the IF method do the 3 day a week workout plan, and no carido.
    I am training monday, tuseday and friday/saturday at gym. Tuesday and thirsday I have soccerpratice. So, my question is:
    Can I still do squats, deadlifts, chins etc as I do, or does the soccer practice somehow interfere?? How would u recommend me to workout? What plan would u advice me to go after?

      • ok. Nice to hear that. If you have anything to ad please feel free to e-mail me.
        The soccer pratice is pretty late, so I (for the most) fast for about 14h/day (due to work breaks etc). Do you have any advice that I should keep in mind while training this way?

        FYI: Pretty nice website. Leangains.com is very useful, but I think that your site is more clean and easy to read. So keep up the good work ;)

  121. Hi Andy,

    I’ve been following the training for about 6 weeks now and I have noticed signifigant improvements in strength. However, I am not noticing the fat loss as I was expecting. Which I think is due to the intermittent fasting, because the window for eating is smaller I have been eating less and therefore less protein. In addition I am unable to eat after my workouts as they are late in the evening. In my office the set lunch break is about 12:30pm, so that is the only time I am able to duck out and get food, because of this my last meal is scheduled to be at 8:30pm. This happens 2 times a week (during weekdays). I’m good on my weekend lift day.

    My work schedule only allows me to lift after 8:00pm (i get off of work around 7:30pmish and by the time I get to the gym/changed and ready to go its at least 8:00). Even with a quick 1:30hr workout (warm up, lifting, stretching) I don’t usually get out of the gym and either home or have access to food until about 9:30ish. (assuming I get out of work on time). That being said is it better for me to eat my big meal after the 9:30pm and break the 16hr fasting window OR should i go ahead and eat the big meal earlier in the day and eat less (or not eat) after working out and maintin the fasting window? OR is IF just not fit for my schedule and I should stick with a more traditional plan of diet where I eat all the time but limit calories.

    I really don’t know what to do.

    Thanks for the help.

  122. I hate to be a pest, but I have one question.

    I abe a bad lower back so can’t do deadlfts and will be doing pullups in replacement. Should I do chin ups first or pull ups on the back day?

    So far I have my routine as follow/( for cut)

    Monday, pullups, chins, kettlebell swings

    Wednesday, dips, handstand press, few pushups

    Friday, squats

    Thanks alot for all your help thus far, I really do appreciate your time.

  123. Hi Andy,
    FIrst, just wanted to say thanks for building such an informative site. I’ve been interested in lean gains for a while but never took the plunge because I just couldn’t stomach the thought of spending hours upon hours calculating the macros in every piece of food I was even thinking about putting in my body. Your advice for simplifying the process tipped the scales and I’m ready to take the plunge.

    Quick training question. You mentioned in a commend above that you did some extra work on rotator cuff strength. Could you tell me what you did? I’m in the middle of rehabing a torn rotator cuff myself and I’m really interested in strengthening exercises I can do once the doctor clears me for light lifting.

    Thanks again for the great info. Your site is now in heavy rotation.

    PS. I live in Tokyo so it’s doubly great to find diet plans and meals consistent with what you can find here in Japan. I love Marks Daily Apple but am frequently dismayed by how much of the diet/meals rely on ingredients that are either unavailable here or just too damn expensive.

  124. Hi Andy,

    I can do body weight chin ups, but I can’t do 15 of them yet. Should I do them assisted until I can get to 15 reps or just do as many as I can (not failure) using my body weight until I can do what’s outlined in the article?

    Also, after benching I can’t do 15 push ups either. I can probably only get about 5 to 7 push ups. Should I do them on my knees and get 15 reps or just stick to as many as I can do until I hit 15?

    Thanks a lot. Get site you have here.

      • Hahaha, oh my gosh. Don’t know why I put 15 for chin ups. I meant what’s outlined in your article. I can only do only 4 reps on the 1st set, 2 reps on the 2nd, and another 2 reps on the 3rd set. Should I stick to it to progressively get to the amount of reps outlined or just do it assisted?

        For the push ups, I noticed if I just do a total of 30 reps (not all at once) that my chest is sore for 4 to 5 days. To get the reps in, I normally do the push ups on my knees. If I didnt’ do them on my knees, I can get only 5 or 7 push ups on the 1st set and maybe 3 push ups on the 2nd set.

        • The only reason you are sore for 4-5 days is because you have either, 1. Just started or, 2. Just started higher volume. You will adjust, but I’d raise your feet up off the floor and go for a 6-12 range. Same with chins but use bands to assist you.

  125. Hi Andy,

    Great site, thanks for sharing all of this info. I was skeptical about a workout where I was squating and deadlifting 3x a week but, it is working well so far. After 2 weeks I have increased weight in squat and DL every workout and have added 15 lbs to my bench going RPT style. I am 37 years old 6’4″ 240 and am currently at following;

    Squat 195×5
    Bench 175×8
    DL 260×5

    My question is you mention getting sore for 3 days as being a good time to switch to a split routine. I really don’t get sore right now. Should I expect that to happen at some point? If my lifts start to stall I just plan to switch to 2 days deadlift a week, then 2 days squat 1 day deadlift a week, then switch to a split routine. Can you see anything wrong with this?

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!


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  127. i have been in a circle of trials and errors about RPT / big three / SS.
    I could not figure out why. It seems to me that the thing was about back off sets which are, hmm well, back-offs set. I used to do those sets like the first one but with a deload.
    If i understand correctly, which may be unlikely, RPT is HIT added with two relatively speaking easy deloaded sets.
    That is what i understand from Martin’s blog JC’s upcoming book, Roger and off course you.

  128. Andy,

    Are you familiar with touch n go deadlifts? I just recently discovered that is what I do at my gym. My gym only has hex plates and the touch n go style seems to work best. Do you have any thoughts on the touch n go vs. regular from the ground deadlifts?

      • Hi Andy, I’m sticking hard to the recomp programme you prescribed. Quick question relating to training, have managed to add reps and a little weight on leg press, deads and pull ups. Really struggling on dumbell press however, not moved in 3 sessions despite giving it EVERYTHING. Dropped the dips and overhead press this week as thought I might need to throttle it back – am unsure on the appropriate approach, would appreciate your suggestions.



  129. Andy, I’m looking of doing this for training during the cut. Then once I’m done and switch to a slow bulk hit Wendler’s 5/3/1. What do you think?


    • Top Set 4-6reps
    o 3mins rest
    • Set 2 (-10-15%) 6-8
    o 2mins rest

    Weighted Chin ups
    • Top Set 4-6reps
    o 3mins rest
    • Set 2 (-10-15%) 6-8
    o 2mins rest
    • Set 3 (-10-15%) 8-10
    o 3mins rest


    • Top Set 6-8reps
    o 3mins rest
    • Set 2 (-10-15%) 8-10
    o 2mins rest
    • Set 3 (-10-15%)10-12
    o 3mins rest

    Dips and/or Push-ups
    • 3x Near Failure
    o 3min Rest



    • Top Set 6-8reps
    o 3mins rest
    • Set 2 (-10-15%) 8-10
    o 2mins rest
    • Set 3 (-10-15%)10-12
    o 3mins rest

    Seated Rows

    • 3 Sets x 6-8reps
    o 3mins rest

    • Dave, I find it amusing that you’ve spend a good 5 minutes writing pretty much the same routine as written in the main article except with tiny moderations and you assume this may be ‘wrong’ somehow. Let me tell you straight buddy, there is not one answer. The important thing is the principles. Take time to lean them. Buy a copy of Beyond Brawn.

  130. Hi Andy, great guide! Just a couple of things I’m not clear on.

    If I hit 8 reps on the top set do I put the weight up then and aim for 6-8 or do I put the weight up the following week?

    On deadlifts should I tap the floor and go straight back up or should i put the bar down and reset for form between reps?


  131. Hey andy, I’ve been on IF for the past 2 weeks, lost around 2kg’s.

    Now here’s the problem, I’ve been doing madcow’s 5×5 for the past 4 months or more, and I still am.

    Most of my lifts are suffering, specially the bench.

    These are my stats and lifts

    Squat 2x150kg’s
    Deadlift is stuck at 5x140kg’s.
    Bench is at 4x90kg’s
    Press is at 4x60kg’s
    Row is at 5x85kg’s
    Chinup is at BW+26kg’s x 6 reps
    Dip is at BW+27.5kg’s x 7 reps

    I’ve been looking for some kind of RPT spreadsheet I could follow, since I’m used to work on them ever since I started lifting.
    I’m kinda lost in what program or routine I should do right now.

  132. 1) So is this 3 Day Split, plus 2/3 assistance exercises per day, a way to get bigger?

    See, my main goal was to lose some more body fat so I can have a defined 6 pack. I started intermittent fasting 3 days ago to help out with this. The problem I have is while I want to lose this fat on my stomach , I would also like to get more muscular. If I decided to gain mass, would obtaining the defined 6 pack look be possible still?

  133. Hi Andy,

    4 weeks is not yet up for our review. However, I would like to ask some questions about training. I’ve started doing 5 sets x 5 reps this week from what you’ve suggested after the Progressive Loading Weight training. For past 3 weeks, I’ve been able to progress heavier weights for all lifts by 5lbs, every workout.

    However, I’ve started stalling or lifting slightly lighter than previous workout. Like today (Friday) I did:

    - Squats (70lbs 5sets x 5reps, same as Wednesday)
    - Bench (50lbs 5sets x 5reps, 55 lbs on Wednesday)
    - Deadlifts (105lbs 3sets x 5reps, 100lbs 5sets x 5reps on Wednesday)

    As you can see, it’s getting lousier i guess? What should i do?

    Also, I’m still not able to do Chin-ups at BW. And have been using Chin-Ups assisted machine like this one: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_jE8NmSu7iyA/TGwVVDXk2fI/AAAAAAAAAS0/-UpMQ88blbQ/s1600/Pioneer-BWS115-assisted-chin-dip-2_s.jpg

    And with a assisted weight of 60lbs (2 sets x 5 reps of Pull-ups, 2 sets x 5reps of Chin-ups).
    And I’m still stuck with 60lbs, not able to use less assist. Is it because of my diet that i stalling too?

    Thanks Andy.

    • P.S. Can i start switching to RPT style training? Or do I have to continue with 5 sets of 5 reps?

      Thanks! Apologies for double post.

    • Daryl there are too many factors to be taken into consideration for these questions. We’ll have to wait until the reassessment point I’m afraid. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

      • Thanks for your reply Andy. I understand, I’ll wait for reassessment point then. Btw, about the chin-ups I’m asking above. Is the machine alright? Or are there any other way I can train it.

        Thanks once again

  134. Would I be correct to assume that any workout program would suffice given that it’s abbreviated/short/intense/etc. If so, what do you think about the workout program of the late John Christy (http://realstrengthrealmuscle.com/)? He was all for abbreviated-hard training very akin to Stuart McRobert. The only thing is he incorporated a lot of eating to get big. The following is an example of his recommended routine that I’ve modified:

    Monday (sets x reps)
    A. Incline Bench Press 2-5×5-15
    B. Row 2-5×5-15
    C. Rear Delt Raises 1-3×5-15
    D. Crunch 1×5-20
    E. Wrist Curl 1×15-20

    A. Squat 2-5×5-15 or Deadlift 2-5×5-15
    B. SLDL or Back Extension 1×10-15
    C. Deadlift Alternative (e.g., Lunges) 2-5×5-15
    D. Calf Raises 1×5-20
    E. Static Grip 1×60-90

    A. Military Press 2-5×5-15
    B. Chin 2-5×5-15
    C. Close-Grip Bench Press 1-3×5-15
    D. Side Bend 1×5-15
    E. Reverse Wrist Curl 1×15-20

    Thank you in advance for your input and help!

  135. Interesting routine. 3 days per week doesnt seem enough thought. especially since there is no shoulder/press exercise incorporated into this example.

    • Honestly I’ve had more strength gains using this routine (even on a cut) in 6 months then the previous 2 years when I was in the gym 6 times a week – it’s pure efficiency – glad when it’s a training day and glad when it’s a rest day!

  136. Is 6, 8, 10 reps too much for deadlifts? This is the rep range that I do for everything. Martin Recommends 2 sets of deads with 3-5 reps and one more for the second set. Jason Ferruggia wrote that deadlifts should never be done with more reps, because form goes to shit. In the last set with 10 reps, it does get quite hard to keep good form, so would it be better to do what Martin suggests?

  137. I’m doing the RPT program that you have listed here, but I want to add the overhead press in as well to work my shoulders. Would it make more sense to add it my bench day or to my squat day? I would do it after those exercises of course.

  138. Hi What about some Cardio? While I want to get lean, I do want to maintain my cardio as I play basketball on a regular basis and enjoy the occasional half marathon,

    • I certainly don’t want you to not enjoy a basketball with your friends, even while cutting. As for the marathons, it’s better/ (quicker/more effective) to focus on one thing at a time.

      • Great – Is Yoga once a week is ok? In addition to the above. I’ve been trying to increase my body flexibility on my off days.

          • My chin-ups currently really suck. I can maybe do 4-5 max. I was wondering if i should substitute inverted rows or something, until I can do more chin-ups. Or should I stick with the assisted chin-up machine (which I personally hate).

  139. Hi Andy was wondering if you could put me out of my misery on something? They’ve recently got rid of the chin up bar at my gym and the 2 other options are to switch to hammer pull ups or use the top row of the squat rack to keep doin chin ups. The only problem being that it’s quite low so I have to cross my ankles on the way down before my arms a straight – are either or neither of these options ok? Thanks a lot mate, Liam

  140. Minor quibble here-I personally have found that chinning to failure (assuming low frequency) has led to my greatest muscular/strength gains. Perhaps it’s an individual thing, but I wouldn’t throw out a blanket recommendation to avoid chinning to failure. Helpful post though.

  141. Hi Andy. Great site.

    I’m on a cut (-35%/+10%), 6’2″ and 167lbs, probably 15-17% bodyfat. My squat is max at 150lbs; bench max is 135lbs; dead lift at 185lbs. Not too stellar.

    Would the Big 3 be best for me? I’ve been doing barbell work for about 6 months, but a different program. I’m not really looking to bulk up, just get more dense and lean.


  142. Hey Andy,

    Since my first workout, I’ve been letting my backoff sets progress independently, as per this article. For the most part, they have been progressing at the same speed as my top set, and at this point, the sets for most of my lifts are with weights that are not that far apart, like at this point <5% difference. Is this normal/okay? On the one hand, I'm not feeling too sore and things haven't slowed down progress wise. On the other hand, the backoff sets are getting harder to get through. Should I try to spread them out a bit? Maybe spend a week or two only letting my top sets increase and focusing on form with my current backoff set weights? Or is this irrelevant since I feel ok?

  143. Hi Andy,hope your well. I’ve suddenly started to get issues with my back whilst doing deadlifts. This has never happened to me before,my lower back seems to twinge / pop when I’m trying to complete my top set. Obviously I stop. My back never goes completely but it does stop my deadlifts. This may be due to me not eating properly. I’m not going to ask for you to diagnose me as I know its pretty impossible,but I would like to know what other exercises I can do instead of deadlifts for a while? I’m doing the big 3.

  144. Hey Andy, long time no see!!
    Listen, I have recently done a thorough weight-to-failure form check on my squat with a trainer and a friend and, well, it seems I need more hamstring development :) (who doesn’t).
    So I was thinking about adding glute hamstring raises to my squat day, as a last exercise. The gym doesn’t have a dedicated machine though, and although I guess I could try doing them on the lat pulldown, I was thinking about using the swedish ladder we have in the stretching corner. Do you have any references or how-tos or just tips on how to start off with them? It’s squat day tomorrow and I’m aching to give them a try!!

    Thanks man, looking forward to your answer!

    • I have no idea how you’re going to do that on the pull down machine but glut ham raises are a very good idea I agree then. You can train them every training day if you wish. Google is going to be your friend here.

  145. The simple answer to most of these questions (Tony et al) is that ANY reasonable routine (one that focuses on big lifts done hard with good recovery) will likely produce similar results. Genetics and a solid eating plan determines the rest.

    Excellent board, Andy.

  146. Which routine should i use to bulk?

    1) Starting strength
    2) Stronglifts
    3) Your RPT routine here
    3) Routine A below
    4) Routine B below

    Routine A
    Mon, Wed, Sat: Squat, Chin Up, Bench Press, Deadlift

    Routine B
    Mon: Squat, Bench Press, Chin up, Overhead Press
    Wed: Deadlift, Bench Press, Chin up, Overhead Press
    Sat: Squat, Bench Press, Chin up, Overhead Press

    All 3 sets RPT same as your 6-8, 8-10, 10-12.

    Which routine should i use to bulk?

    • That depends on your lifting status. All will work given the right situation. Read the section on recover in the “progressing from…” article on training mate.

  147. So I was doing the SS and I agree it is taxing on my body when cutting (which is what im doing) so I will do the RPT. I’m about to go in the gym and today is Wed so that is bench. So I only bench press today and then push ups? Doesn’t seem like alot but I think youre going to tell me if I do my warm up sets itll be enough, can I add my weighted dips in my routine for today?

    Btw, amazing site, it has helped a beginner in IF to learn alot.

    • If you read the comments above you’ll find there’s several people already asked similar things before. Sure, add them if you can recover from them.

  148. Greetings. I understand the role genetics plays in the development of ALL bodyparts. But it seems that the sample Reverse Pyramid workouts discussed look seriously underpowered for the Legs compared with the frequency and exercises done for upper body (which hits the upper body with greater frequency or volume). I’d like to hear views from those of you who tried this method (leangains plus the reverse pyramid training as described on his site).

    Now, I know the quads are “involved” in deadlifting but not nearly to the same degree as with a deep squat because the knee flexion is not nearly even closee. So that leaves one focused day for thigh work, using mainly the squat as the main movement, per each week or 8 days.

    Has anyone ever seen any pics of the site owner’s legs (Martin?)? If so, could you post those pics. I usually see only his upper body photos, but that is true of most of the guys in those before/after cell phone shots. Makes it hard to assess the complete effectiveness. The reason I ask is Martin’s deadlift video suggests a rather thin set of legs, despite superior lifting capabilities in the deadlift and a respectable squat, and an obviously refined approach?



  149. Hello Andy, i have one question
    if i train from 09:00 to 10:30 – 11:00 with 10g BCAA before, i need to take another 10g after workout if i have protein and post workout meal at 12:00 ? thx

  150. Andy – what are your thoughts on grip for deads…I’m getting to the point where my body’s strength is beating my grip strength (wt 150lbs, 1rm 385, 345×4). Ok to cross grip to pull it? or stick with standard and try to hang on?

  151. Hi, many times on the comments you recommend hill sprints. Why did you select this exercise as an alternative for some people? Thx

  152. Great website! Really appreciate what you’ve added to Martin’s LG & RPT foundation. One thing I’m confused with is how to progress with the “back-off-sets.” I was hoping you might be able to help me understand.

    I’m not getting why in your example you increased the weight from 145 to 150 on the second set of week 6 when you only got 8 reps at 145. You got 8 reps of 140 on your second set of Week 3 and did not increase weight. I’ve been trying to figure out the progression on the “back-off-sets” but am not seeing consistent rule applications on Leangains or here. I’d appreciate any and all help to clarify. Thanks.

    Here’s what you wrote:
    “An example of a squat progression with target rep ranges 6-8, 8-10, 10-12:

    Week 1: 150 x 6, 135 x 9, 120 x 12
    Week 2: 150 x 8, 135 x 10, 125 x 10
    Week 3: 155 x 6, 140 x 8, 125 x 11
    Week 4: 155 x 6, 140 x 10, 125 x 11
    Week 5: 155 x 8, 145 x 8, 125 x 12
    Week 6: 160 x 6, 150 x 6*, 130 x 10″

    [*typo which has been edited in the main post to "145 x 9" -Andy.]

    I’m just focusing on the second set, i.e. the first set AFTER the top set. Note the discrepancy between hitting 8 reps and not moving up in weight on Week 3 and yet hitting 8 reps and moving up on week 6 after only hitting 8 reps on week 5.

      • Thanks for your prompt reply.

        But it wouldn’t even be within the recommended rep range (8-10) for the second set. Pushing so hard on your drop-sets seems counter to what Martin recommends when he says to stop at reps in top-set+1 for your second set. Combining the messages of: a.) push yourself hard to avoid fuckarounditis and b.) avoid maxing out on your drop-sets — create a bit of cognitive dissonance for me. It makes it difficult to know when to increase weight by some metric other than “when you feel like it”.

        • Thom, I’m sorry I don’t understand mate. If you hit the top of your target rep range, you increase. Very clear rules, nothing is “when you feel like it”. Have another look and see if it’s clearer. I’ve edited the example as I said.

  153. I see that cooldown cardio is named on every workout day, but I can’t see any examples of cooldown cardio. Is walking on the treadmill with elevation enough as cooldown cardio or is there any better alternative?

  154. Hi Andy, in your opinion is it more beneficial to squat ATG with less weight or parallel with more weight? Just wondering your perspective, personally I’ve been doing ATG for a while now

  155. So… this is a good choice?

    Monday: Deadlift / Chin-ups / Front Squat (Light)
    Wednesday: Bench Press / Dips / Hyperextensions BW
    Friday: Squat / OHP / Hanging Leg Raises

    2 first exercises of each day with low reps (3-5 reps p/set).
    I’m in a cut (-30/+10), but I want to make strenght gains (or minimize strenght loss).

    Thank you

  156. Hey Andy great tip on chins and not going to failure. My chins have plateaud while my other lifts increase, so you may just well be my saviour :)

    Out of interest what’s your opinion on close grip chin-up for someone who’s reasonably proficient at standard grip (6 x 25kg). They are mentioned a lot in lean gains circles and if you were to include them (if at all) would you alternate them between workouts or simply add them as a set to your standard chin day?

    Keep up the sterling work!

  157. Do you think adding a shoulder movement such as shoulder DB press would be beneficial on squat only days?


  158. Hey Andy,

    Just wondered in your thoughts with throwing in some stretching and flexibility with a two day split. I’m looking at yoga or pilates classes in Birmingham, but wanted some guidance on how it sits with you. I’ve got friends going to Hot Yoga, which just looks like a dehydration room to make people feel like they’ve lost weight when in fact all they’ve done is sweat. I’d rather sweat over my barbell.

    I would like to be more flexible though…

    Your thoughts, as always, are massively appreciated.


  159. Being short on time-can you just clarify, it is just 1 set on the pyramid yes? as stated:

    1. Bench

    Warm-up sets
    Top Set 6-8reps
    3mins rest
    Set 2 (-10-15%) 8-10
    2mins rest
    Set 3 (-10-15%)10-12
    3mins rest


    2. Push-ups (2 sets, 3 mins rest. Raise feet off floor when too easy. 15-20reps)


    Sorry if this is already in here somewhere but whenever I get chance to check your site I have around 5 mins spare so appologies if its contained somewhere in here….


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  161. Ooops! I meant to quote you on Bench for comparison!

    “1. Bench

    Warm-up sets
    Top Set 6-8reps
    3mins rest
    Set 2 (-10-15%) 8-10
    2mins rest
    Set 3 (-10-15%)10-12
    3mins rest”.

    Those rep ranges are even higher than the 3 sets of 4-6 listed on the FAQ for the bench example. Especially in light of the formula from the FAQ

    “X # of reps for Z weight. Next set, do (Z-10%) weight for X+1 reps. Next set, do (Z-20%) for X+2 ”

    Following the above formula using your numbers for bench would put you at:
    Set 1: 6 reps
    Set 2: 7 reps (1 rep below the 8-10 range you suggested)
    Set 3: 8 reps ( 2 reps below the 10-12 range you suggested)

    A follow up question.

    Assuming increased strength is the goal, would it be safe to say that the following rep ranges would be best for the top set on the following exercises?

    Deadlift: 3-5 reps
    Squat: 3-5 reps
    Bench: 4-6 reps
    Weighted Chins: 4-6 reps
    Press: 5-7 reps

    I apologize for being so anal about all this Andy. I am not a novice to weight training (40 years experience), but I am new to the leangains approach. As you and I have discussed both here and on your Facebook page, I lost strength on my first attempt at a cut. I’m just trying to dial this all in so that I can have a successful experience with this as I go forward.

    I do realize that, short of hiring a trainer, this is going to require experimentation and fine tuning on my end.

    I hope I’m not bothering you by seeking clarification on some issues. I do try to read as much as I can of what you have posted before asking my silly questions! ;)

    • John, minor minor details. If you’ve been training for 40 years then you know that lower rep ranges have a more strength focus, and higher rep ranges more of a hypertrophy focus. So make a choice and just do it.

      • that is true. It looks like the routine was a bit of a hybrid to me and was just curious as to your reasoning for incorporating various rep ranges. Your answer is what I was suspecting.

        Make choice about whether to use the routine that incorporates both, or a choice to go with higher or lower reps?

        The doing it part I have no problem with ( 40 years worth of training logs). But if I mess around with something I like to make informed decisions. Thanks again.

  162. Hi, Ive been following the guidelines set by your website for a few months, with moderate results. As far as workouts are concerned, I’ve gained much strength but hardly any mass. I do all of your compound excersizes (except press which I can’t do for medical reasons), and I throw in some other more conventional excersizes.

    What I wanted to ask you is: Given that I train every morning, is it just as effective to split my routine into 2 parts and do each of the two programs every other day, or is it better if the program is split into 3, giving 2 days of rest between each specific workout?
    The goal being allowing just enough recovery time before excersising a muscle group again.

    Additional data that might affect your advice: Im 18, have medium experience in lifting (very shaped for my age, but I’m no bodybuilder), and I also do archery training 3 times a week

    Thanks for your advice

    • There’s no single answer to that question mate. Firstly read this article I wrote specifically noting the points on recovery. Then go to amazon and buy yourself a copy of Starting Strength and Beyond Brawn. Thirdly thank me in a month when you’re happy with your new awesome purchases.

  163. Hi Andy,

    First, to echo everyone else, many thanks for putting such a detailed and exciting website on IF and LG type training and lifestyle!

    I have some questions on your warm up sets, if I count correctly you squat 46 times before you start your top set? Ok 25 times is just with the bar… but still that seems quite a high number which might impact your top set performance?

    Do you warm up on chins with bodyweight and again does that not negatively impact your top set?

    Many thanks,

    • Alex think about it mate:
      Squatting with an empty bar, in the majority of men’s cases is likely to be less than 25% of 1RM. In my case less than 15%. This is not going to impact performance.
      Chinning bodyweight will be certainly be more than 50% of even superman’s 1RM. For the average RPT loving trainee this will likely be 70-90% of their 1RM.

      I warm up with chins yes, but sparingly. Just a few reps for a couple of sets and I usually don’t have it as the first exercise of the day.

  164. Hi Andy and thanks for a very interesting webpage and complement to Martin’s blog !

    I’ve taken the LG method to heart and started out on my journey, but the thing I find more note of here rather than what i did on Martin’s blog is that you really, really, try to apply the 3 day split training per 7 day cycle.
    My problem with this is that I really LOVE hitting the gym as I do now. I have a workout schedule for 6 day cycles. Weight-lifting 5 of these and going for cardio(intervals) on the 6th day.
    I’m at the stage where I’m at approx 12-13% bodyfat but I want to get ripped.
    Would you say that it’s not possible doing it the LG-style with this heavy workload or is there somehow a way for me to keep my schedule and still getting ripped using this diet method?

    Many thanks in advance for your assistance, and I bet some others might find this useful as well :)
    Best regards

      • Hi and thanks again.

        So If I understand the article correctly, the main reason I should not keep doing this is because of my CNS?(Just ta make sure I really understand your opinion correctly) It will not matter how well I split my schedule and if I let my muscles recover, since my CNS is taking a little beatup from the diet as well ?

        • That, and you won’t be able to cycle your carbs as per the usual LG set-up (to time them with your workouts) as this will give you too many consecutive surplus days. You could cycling but putting two of your less taxing training days on a “rest day” in terms of the diet.

          • I see, my thought was to put the low carbs days on cardio day and another day where I also have lower carb needs, but might not be enough.
            Will try to cycle the carbs 3 of the days and listen very carefully to my body in terms of recovery and see where it takes me.

            Thank you soo much for some really good advice and a great blog/webpage!

            Have a good one!

  165. Hi Andy,

    First of all, thank you for a great site and for filtering down the pretty complex science from Leangains.com. I personally think that your site is easier to comprehend, as I’m not being an expert nutritionist.

    I do however have a question for you regarding the three day split which I am using (and following almost to the letter). It’s working very well and I have good progress.

    But I do lack progress on my chins. After a set of deadlift on Mondays, I’m pretty fatigued when I start the chins. So I am wondering if it would be suitable to change the chins on monday for push-ups and vice versa? On the other hand, I’m just as fatigued after a set of bench-presses on Wednesdays…

    Monday: 1) Deadlift 2) Chins
    Wednesday: 1) Bench Press 2) Push-ups
    Friday: 1) Squat 2) OH-press

    Change to:
    Monday: 1) Deadlift 2) Push-ups
    Wednesday: 1) Bench Press 2) Chins
    Friday: 1) Squat 2) OH-press

    I see an advantage in changing because then I will have one push and one pull exercise on Monday/Wednesday as opposed to now where I have only pulls on Monday and pushes on Wednesday.

    So…I’m kinda confused here because I don’t want to tamper too much with the routine. I’m hoping that you maybe could help me out.

    Again, thanks for a great site and keep up the good work.

    • If all the rest of your lifts are improving then firstly, good work, don’t get down about it. As for whether you should switch, this is simply a case of try it and see. There will be elements of fatigue that will carry over from the deadlift day and possibly hinder chins on your bench day. So there’s pro’s and con’s.

      • Thank you very much for a quick answer. I guess you´re right; as long as I’m improving on the big three lifts there’s really no need to worry. But I can’t help thinking that there must be a thought about putting chins on deadlift day. And if so; what and why?

        Bet regards

  166. I’m considering using this program for my LG diet. But can you explain the push-ups? I’d already be doing the bench for the pecs, why add another exercise? Would replacing them with something for the side delts be wise?

    • If you feel you don’t need the pushups then there is no need to do them, it’s just an optional finished. Whether you need to/should hit the side felt really depends on the rest of your program, your current condition, and priorities. It’s not a big deal either way, as it’s a very small muscle group so won’t add anything to overall CNS fatigue really, so feel free to put it in there if you decide that’s what’s best.

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  168. Andy is calf work worth it or not in you opinion? My leg day looks like this Squats, Stiff Leg Deads, Shrugs, Standing Barbell Calf Raises (thinking of dropping)

    • That’s completely up to you mate. Some people care a lot about their calves. I know Arnie did, as he got in a shouting match with the owner of Mr U’s gym just down the road at one of the 1970′s Mr Universe competitions. Arnie asked him what the secret was to his big calves and wouldn’t believe him when he told him just something very ordinary. -But then again he was a professional.

      The real answer, calves are stubborn as shit to training stimulus and will give you a lot of pain when walking for very little growth in return so I don’t bother, but his Japanese genes are/were the reason for his huge calves.

  169. Andy,
    I’m starting a pretty aggressive cut (-40%/0%) and I’d say I’m an advanced beginner/beginning intermediate trainee (been training intelligently for about 9 months now following a slightly modified “Starting Strength”, my 4 RMs are .8xbw on the bench, 1.4xbw on deadlift, 1.2x bw on squat). I’ve just decided to change to RPT to lower the volume/frequency for the cut, and posting my planned routine below. Basically I’m doing the “big” lifts reverse pyramid style, and the “assistance” exercises in 3 sets of 5 reps at a fixed weight, and progressing whenever I can complete the 3 sets. I’m fortunate enough to have fairly good recovery capacity even with lower calorie levels, as a result of being an 18 year old boy.
    Would you be able to point out any potential flaws with my routine in terms of lifts selected or rep ranges? I’d really appreciate it.
    Monday: Deadlifts 4 reps, 6 reps. Chins 6 reps, 8 reps, 12 reps. Bench 6 reps, 8 reps, 12 reps. Calves 3X5.
    Wednesday: Overhead press 6 reps, 8 reps, 12 reps. Front Squat 3X5. Dips 3X5. Dumbbell rows 3×5. Romanian Deadlift 3X5.
    Friday: Squats 6 reps, 8 reps, 12 reps. Bench 6 reps, 8 reps, 12 reps. Chins 6 reps, 8 reps, 12 reps. Rear Delt Fly 3X5.

    Thanks for your time!

    • What you’ve got there is good, but too much volume. -But you knew I was going to say that. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of Beyond Brawn.
      Definitely drop those dumbbell rows.

      • Huh, I was actually worried about the opposite (not enough assistance). I’d still like to keep in some type of rowing, but I’ll probably drop them down to 1 max effort set.

        Thanks for the input!

  170. Andy,

    Firstly may i praise your fantastic efforts, knowledge and straight forward, no nonsense advice to anyone and everyone who has the privilege to be a member here. And i would like to thank you for all you advice…

    I am trying to get my girlfriend into a similar routine and get her to ditch running for 3 hours on a treadmill! Luckily she hates going to the gym so the minimal time in the gym line worked well!
    She has never done any heavy lifting, where should she start…
    She works 4 days on (12hours) 4 days off, which is also a problem. My thoughts are…
    First day off:- light deadlifts, leg extensions and chins. (highER carb low fat)
    Second day off:- Press Ups (until she can bench), assisted pull ups. (highER carb low fat)
    Third day off – rest (low carb highER fat)
    Fourth Day off:- Squats, walking lunges and overhead press (highER carb low fat)
    (This routine is off Leangains!)
    First and second day at work:- rest (low carb highER fat)
    Third day at work:- rest (highER carb low fat to maintenance calories)
    Fourth day at work – rest (low carb highER fat)
    Your thoughts would be appreciated as i am only guessing here…

    • Starting strength and the diet set-up advised in the diet sections. Nothing changes because she is a woman in the context of this general set-up. At the moment you are complicating things unnecessarily, which is not only sub-optimal, but will lead her to say “wtf?” and quit in confusion.

  171. Hello Andy,

    what about doing this training routine in FASTED STATE ? For example after 15-16 hours of tasting ? 10g BCAAs is enough before training ?

    Thx a lot :)

  172. Hi Andy,
    Im in that stage between beginner and intermediate and I want to shed some body fat before I start a leangains style slow bulk.
    Would you suggest the above split for a cut or a modified big 3 routine?

  173. Andy, I love your website. Really helped me make sense of all the LG stuff. I am currently on week 12 of Stronglifts. Do squats everyday, then alternating one day of bench/DL, two days of DL/bench every week. Great progress, havent stalled, lifting more than I did in high school when I played football, and have lost about 30lbs(currently hovering around 250lb), but a lot of fat left to cut. Even though I continue to make gains every sessions, after reading your stuff, I feel like switching to a RPT style would hopefully provide a better aid in my fat loss. My question is after reading your articles on “The Big 3″ and “Three Day split” would it be more beneficial for me to switch to “The Big 3″ first, adding bench and DL to each work, for 12 weeks, then transition to a “3 day split” or is one more beneficial than the other?

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  175. Hey man,
    thx for awsome website.
    I have few question about the training.
    Iam on leangains a iam searching for some trainging to it.
    This looks like nice but…
    As u wrote above :
    Day 1 : deadlift and weighted chin-ups
    Day 2 : Bench and push-ups
    Day 3 : squats
    Now my questions:
    Is it enough to whole muscle progress ? I know u said is it, but anyways if iam not a novice what exercise i may add and when.
    What u think about one more exercise ones a week for my weak parties like biceps,triceps…?
    What do u think about crossfits, complexs, tabatas at non-workout day ?
    Thanks for awswers.
    Sorry for my bad english i hope u understood all. :)

  176. Hi Andy,

    Cool website, I found you through fitocraty.

    I’ve been doing reverse pyramid for a while and on the big 3, my second (and sometimes third) set is catching up with my first.

    Ex: Say I started like :
    set 1 : 200 x 4-5
    set 2: 180x 4-5
    set 3 : 165x 4-5

    10% difference between each. However after a while, by keeping in mind to “move up” when I hit the end of the range (5 in the example), I arrive at something like

    set 1: 300x 4-5
    set 2 : 290x 4-5
    set 3 : 285x 4-5

    Is that to be expected, or should we always try to keep the -10% between the different set.
    (I have not yet hit a plateau in strength progression with this progression but I’m curious)


  177. andrew just wondering what you think of this for an intermediate/advanced split (for bulking/bodybuilding):

    A back and biceps day: deadlift (RPT), chins (RPT), a row (SS), a biceps curl (SS)

    A chest and triceps day: bench (RPT), an incline or dips (RPT), dips or an incline (SS), a tricep extension (SS)

    A legs and shoulders day: squat (RPT), standing military (RPT), leg press (SS), a calf raise (SS)

    SS = starting strength progression system, all sets with same weight

    • Take out the leg press and row, concentrate on progressive poundage increases rather than pain and DOMS, and it looks fine. More fundamentally though what you have there is a full body day, an upper body day and a full body day. You’ll do better in the long term to think of your body as a unit rather than pieces.
      Just for fun I’ll give you one of my favourite Rippetoe quotes:

      My opinion about barbell rows is as follows: f*ck barbell rows. Really. F*ck them. Stop wasting time worrying about barbell rows and get your deadlift up to 500. By then you’ll have your own opinion and you won’t have to worry about mine.

      More wisdom can be found here.

      • I will take your word for this, however Martin recommends rows on his blog… Which I find contradictory

        In ‘Reverse Pyramid Revisited’:

        “Ok, done with chins and time for some Pendlay Rows; here, do not use the RPT set structure, rather take your 7 RM and do sets of 5 using the Starting Strength principles. At this point you should be fairly fatigued, so no more RPT.”

        Although I have tried Deads and Rows in the same workout, and you become significantly weaker on the rows because your lower back is just torched… so I’m not arguing your point

  178. Andy,

    I am not that strong yet, but i can do good form by doing bench press, and my top set is 125lbs. Should my warm up sets would be like this:
    70×5, 85×5,95×5,115×4 = is this correct?


  179. Not including warm sets or 5-10min cooldown…this RPT routine seems to take 10-15 minutes…is that right?

    • The actual ball busting main sets will take that long if it’s just one exercise yes. But if you’re advanced enough to just be doing one exercise (like squats for example) per session then you’re going to be needing plenty of warm-ups, stretching etc.

  180. Should i be doing the same weight each week or increase as the weeks progress? I did not see anything on hear about it or just stick to the top set, -10, and -10?

  181. Andy is one warm up set enough or should I add more warm up in front and take volume off the RPT? see below example:

    Monday: BP (115×6, 205×3, 195×5, 190*x6) IBP (115×6, 185×4, 175×5, 170×6, 165×7, 135×10) Dips (BW+65×4, BW+55×4, BW+45×5

    Wednesday: Deads (135×8, 230×5, 255×4, 270×3, 310×2, 330*x1) Chins (BWx6, BW+60×2.5, BW+50×3, BW+40×5, BW+30×6 ss=8) Rows (95×10, 110×8, 125×6, 130×5)

    Friday ATG Squats (45×5, 115×6, 210×3, 200×4, 190×5, 180×6, 135×11)

    • It depends on the individual. Generally those newer to training need less. I’m not particularly strong, but I am creaky for a 28 year old, so I have a lot of warm-up sets. The key is to keep the number of reps low so that you don’t tire yourself out before the top set. Always do the minimum that you need.

  182. Hello,

    I have been following RPT for a few months and have been achieving fantastic results but I am in a bit of a dilemma right now. This past weekend, I pulled a tendon in my finger while playing basketball. Because of this, I have to wear a splint in my left middle finger for the next 6-8 weeks. The problem is that now, I cannot fully grip anything in my left hand which makes deadlifts and OHP impossible. I do not know if I can still bench but squats are not an issue. My question is, do you have any suggestions as to what I can do in the gym? The problem is if I go too heavy, my grip becomes and issue. Should I just focus more on dumbbell type exercises? I guess my biggest concern is that I don’t want to lose the muscle I have worked so hard to achieve.

  183. Andy, great stuff. Thanks for your efforts. Quick question, if you don’t mind. Osteoarthritis in my shoulders makes bench press very painful. Are floor presses an acceptable substitute?

  184. I guess I am looking into this too hard and I do understand what you have to say.

    There seem to be a debate all over the web on chin-ups vs pull-ups. I have always regard chin-ups as more of a biceps exercise than pull-ups.

    Would you agree?

    • The average person doing a pull-up will cheat on the range of motion because it’s hard. They’ll get a better range of motion on the chin-up. I’ve seen this hundreds of times in the gym.
      I think Martin’s explanation of why he recommended it was that overall muscle activation is very similar with correct technique, yet the tendency to cheat on range means the chins win out in most cases. (I might have read that somewhere else though.)

  185. Andy – you are the man! Will play around with schedules a bit. Maybe I’m able to do one workout during the week in the am and one in the evening on non-consecutive days. -Cheers!

  186. Andy,

    Your site is amazing, so much additional helpful information not found on LG (or only through hours of reading through hundreds of comments etc.). Thanks for putting it together, it’s a gem!

    Question: My weeks are busy, hurts my flexibility with training schedule. Mo, Wed, Fri is just no option, I’m going 6am-9/10pm on weekdays. What’s your take on doing Bench and Squat (and consequently carb load) on consecutive days? That would allow e.g. Wed, Sat, Sun schedule for workouts/carb cycling.

    Plus: I’ve never stretched – should I?

    Would be great to hear your take on this.


  187. Hi Andy,

    Had a question for you regarding my current workout regiment which I based on this article.
    Currently doing:

    Tuesday: Deadlifts RPT style, 2 sets (ie. 405lb x5, 365 x6, drop weight 10% and 1 rep each set, wait 3 min between sets), Bench RPT 3 sets.
    Thursday: Press RPT 3 sets, Chins 3 sets (going to failure here, which it sounds like I should not be doing), Weighted dips, 3 sets to failure.
    Saturday: Squat RPT 3 sets, Power Cleans 5 sets of 3, some grip work.

    Adding weight next time around if I hit 6 good reps.

    Am currently ~220lb, 17-18% BF and doing a “cut” (-35/+10). Is there anything you would recommend taking out, or maybe I should add some more in? I know you recommend 6-8 reps, but I am very comfortable with 5, does this seem ok?

    Thanks for a great site, read every article here and can’t get enough.

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  189. Hey Andy,

    one more question? So i was wondering about the double poundage.
    So i understand i need to pick a number for reps and stick to it…
    But how about sets? For example squats: if i pick 12-20. ( slowly work my way up to 20 then add weight… )
    Shall i do 3 sets of the same weight and reps?


  190. Hi there Andy!

    Am thinking of changing to a bulk in the coming month. In my past (prior to LG) I was doing Stronglifts 5×5. I LOVE the RPT set up, but really liked the heavier top set in SL. Was wondering your thoughts on still doing the RPT in the slow bulk, but changing the rep ranges to 4-6, 6-8, 8-10..

    By the way, this re-comp has been so much fun :)

      • Good stuff!

        Was also wondering if it is still as crucial to stay under the hour on a bulk? or is spilling over okay?

        I only ask as the MMA sessions we do range a lot in time depending on what we’re focusing on. Eg class for an hour and then open mat for an hour. Was thinking I could smash some bcaas in between as well if im training fasted.. Sound about right??

  191. Hi Andy,

    Following my exams I’ve been studying Stuart McRobert’s brilliant book Beyond Brawn. With regards to Intermittent Fasting I was wondering if you could answer the following question;

    Stuart also recommends a ‘less is more’ approach which you have alluded to on your site – what about body part over-lapping though? Would it be a bad idea to deviate away from 3-day-RPT style, and go for maybe two workouts a week with minimal over-lapping?

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  193. Hi Andy

    Started leangains this week and went with your workout schedule. I’m a little bit surprised that if I take out warmups,breaks and stretches..at say 60 seconds per exercise I seem to only be doing 5-6 minutes of actual hard work in the gym.
    Am I missing something or is this what you advocate



  194. Hello Andy,
    compliments for this great site!

    I have a quick question: since I play football twice a week, I decided to follow a 2-day routine instead of a 3-day routine cause I’m scared to overtrain. The routine looks like this:

    Day A: squat, bench press, chin ups
    Day B: deadlift, dips

    I was wondering if splitting lower and upper body exercises could be more productive, something like that:

    Day A: squat, deadlift
    Day B: bench press, chin ups, dips

    What do you think about it?

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  196. Hey!

    Just loving your site! Great source of practical training information related to IF. You inspired me to try out the IF.

    I started to follow the ‘Three Day Split RPT’ Routine. This is my first week. But the problem is that after training day, specially after squats/deadlifts (like today) my leg and back muscles are really-really tired (I almost cannot walk up the stairs). It is not so much soreness but my legs are just really-really tired. So far I have been able to fully recover before next workout day.

    My workout today looked like this:

    - 5min warmup with cardio machines + some stretches mobility exercises
    - Barbell Squats – 32.5×11,62.5×9,62.5×7,52.5×10
    - Standing Military Press 10.0×10,32.5×5,27.5×7,22.5×9
    - 10min cool-down cardio + some stretching
    (i now it is not perfect RPT-style yet, but I am getting there)

    Any tips/suggestions?

  197. Hey,

    i am a big fan! I was wondering what shall i do if i play/train football 5 times/week?
    Still cycle my carbs and fats? Just one day keep it higher than normal?

    • Is you’re training as well then keep cycling and timing things around your weight training. In this case very simply: Don’t make the football days training day macros, use a multiplier for your BMR, monitor progress and adjust accordingly after a month.

      • Even if we are lifting weights ? so i am guessing i just have to eat more higher multiplier. And just leave the football training out and work out 3 times a week and count those as work out day?

        thanks for the fast response!

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  199. Hey,

    Quick question: I’ve used IF recently, and my new school semester’s schedule really isn’t all that IF friendly. I’m starting a cut, I like this routine for its simplicity, sticking to those movements, and when coupled with IF, the better chance I maintain strength. I was wondering if I could still see the strength retention even without IF? My cut isn’t so big, about 5 pounds in 7 weeks is the goal. I still center calories around workouts, cycle carbs for workout days, and may have fasted (BCAA before) workouts from time to time. Think it’ll make a big difference that I’m not doing IF, or should I look for another program?

    • People have been cutting using carb cycling for years, IF is a relatively new thing. Go for it. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t fit it in your schedule somewhere though if you prepare a meal in advance.

  200. Is it worth squatting if the only option is a smith machine? I read somewhere on here that it’s best to stay clear of them.

  201. Andy ,

    Firslty thank you for a great site and also spending the time to reply to these questions.

    For personal reasons at home I only get to train twice a week.

    How would you arrange the above split into twosessions?

    Again , thank you for all of your time and effort.


    • Thanks Matt, it really varies for the individual but as a base, presuming you’re cutting I’d probably try something like this:
      Monday: Deadlift Chins
      Thursday: Squats Bench

      • Thanks for coming back so soon. Im actually skinny-fat. Ive lost two stone though because i was skinny balloon.

        Ive fumbled around in the dark with weights for so long and im only finally armed with the knowledge to do this right.

        Im gonna throw some presses in on squats day too and work my ass off as hard as i can. Hopefully ill have some 12 week transformation pictures worthy of showing.

        Thanks again Andy and good luck in your new endeavours.

        • Andy,

          I wrote the above straight after my deadlifts and I clearly wasn’t as articulate as I normally am. I guess deadlifts take us back to a more primordial way of thinking?

          What I was trying to say was, no, I’m not technically on a cut, but I’m not technically on a bulk either. I’m 11.5 Stone at 17% body fat, and most of that is gut and chest. I have very skinny legs and arms.

          I’m hoping the above exercise split coupled with IF will give me the best of both worlds in terms of strength and muscle gain and fat loss.

          Again, I wish you the best in what you’re doing, and may well hook you up for a consultation depending on how my own results go.


          • I’m definitely not in any condition to talk to anyone 3 minutes before and 1 minute after a top deadlift set. Nor will anyone go near my 160kg friend Karim. I don’t think it is just you. Sounds like you know what you’re doing. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

  202. Hey Adam, I’m looking to try this simplified approach and I was wondering how you progress with pushups. Do you increase the reps or do different variations?
    Any links with more detail on progressing with pushups would be greatly appreciated.


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  204. Hey Adam, thanks for all the great info. There are so many sites with info but your site seems to contain the most easy the access / simplified guide.

    I’ve been trying to lose fat while doing a similar RPT style 3 day split but with a lot more secondary exercises. I’m going to simplify it and go with your layout and really focus on the main exercises.

    I just have 1 quick question: do you program in any planned refeeds or do you think the carb/calorie cycling is enough?


    • The carb cycling is enough to keep away the need for re-feeds. This is not to be confused with a diet break however. People do sometimes need those, but that’s something for google or reading a Lyle McDonald book.

  205. Hi Andy — for someone like me approaching the final phase of their diet, how beneficial/hindering do you think a complete form reset would be? I’m thinking about taking down my weights and getting my form perfect. Maybe this should wait until my lean bulk?

  206. I find it hard to combine weighted chinups with deadlifts on same workout as they are both an intense grip pull exercise…

    I start with deadlifts, and my grip is left weak for the chinups which robs you of strength and progress.

    Do the chinups with bench or squat day.

    my 2 cents

  207. Hi, Andy!
    In SS I should drop 10% from the bar if I can’t add weight three workouts in a row.
    And what about stalling in RPT?

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      • Well, it’s probably my fault for skimming through things.

        I’ve trained with SS and then Lyle McDonald’s bulking brosplit soon 1.5 years now. Might give RPT a try though.

    • There is a huge gaping hole in that method of chins. -You will use your legs, whether consciously or not, to help yourself up when the going gets tough, and thus cheat yourself. Stick to the band-assisted chin-ups, you can’t cheat.

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  210. Hi Andy, decide to ask here since I couldn’t write in your Fitocracy page :)

    First I’d like to thank you for your awesome site. Stumbled here couple of days ago from Dick Talens link if I remember correctly and I’ve read everything. I started LeanGains maybe a week ago but your simple macro counting article helped me alot and I think I know now what and how much I need to eat. So thanks a bunch!

    I’ve been doing StrongLifts 5×5 for about a month now and just now I read in your traingin article that I shouldn’t do that (or SS) because they are not for cutting individual. Previously I wasn’t going to do a cut until later but after reading through your site I guess its for the best. I’m fairly lean otherwise but I got fat in stomach and sides that I want to get rid of ASAP.

    I posted this in Fitocracy earlier today, before reading about RPT or Big 3 here:

    “Thought I’d post some stats from my lifts and ask around for opinions/advice. I’m 185cm tall and weight 79kg.

    My weights are these as of today:

    Squat 62,5kg
    Bench Press 45kg
    Overhead Press 37,5kg
    Pendlay Row 55kg
    Deadlift 90kg

    I’m struggling a bit with Overhead Press, I’m not able to do it with perfect form as I have to push a bit with my knees. Pendlay Row is another where I have problems since I can’t do it with good form either anymore. I basically lift my chest up when pulling and drop it to touch the bar.”

    As you can see, I can’t keep up with the Press and Row and part of that must be because I’m not eating that many calories atm. Now I know that what I have been doing might not be the best thing to do while on the cut.

    I calculated my macros with the Google Doc spreadsheet that someone posted and they are like this:
    T-day: 2 548,90
    R-day:1 506,17

    I eat +180g protein a day and I think I’ve been pretty close to these numbers in the past few days that I started taking more care in what I eat.

    But for my question:
    So I should be doing the Big 3 workout with RPT style but how? In the article on this page you recommend doing Mon DL + Chin up, Wed Bench and Fri Squat. But on the other article (http://rippedbody.jp/the-big-3-routine/) you advice to do them all 3 times a week. So which should I do? :)

    And I don’t have acces to a spotter so I probably can’t do the first set to failure like you suggest. Should I care about this?

    • 1. How do I let people write on my Fitocracy page? Is that an ‘opt in’ thing?
      2. Welcome mate, glad you’re finding it useful.
      3. I’d ditch the press and row and concentrate on the others till you finish your cut.
      4. Do whichever your body can handle. More advanced people require more recovery time. I’ve explained in more detail on the main training page how to choose.
      5. Go to the point of failure of form, then stop a rep short.
      Cheers Olli!

  211. Are the exercises in big split routine enough to build bigger shoulders for somebody who is narrower? Would it be smart to add some extras line lateral rise, plate rises after the shoulder press workout? Again, this is for somebody who has much smaller frame.

      • so in your opinion all those three exercises will create a perfect wide shoulders and no extra effort is necessary? I asked that cause I used to do the Adonis Workouts where the main point was to make sure the shoulders get wide while the waist gets narrow to create nice proportions and look.

        • Google “powerlifter” in images and look at the guys that compete in a weight-class category. (i.e. not the fat guys.) Have a look at their shoulders. If you’re not happy then feel free to throw some presses in there.

          • Hmm, so what is your take on those who say that big 3 lifts will create big butt and big tights and will not build proportional body. Yes the pictures on your site prove the opposite , but I wonder what is your world on ? Also after googling the “powerlifter” I mostly get those huge not attractive phisique photos.

            • I think I’ve stated pretty clearly what my opinion is on this. Throw some direct shoulder work in there if you wish. As with everything, try it and see how your body responds.

  212. Andy –

    In the programming chapter of Starting Strength, Rippetoe writes about an A/B routine.

    A: Squat/Bench/Deads
    B: Squat/Press/Power Clean.

    To quote from page 289 in my copy: “Essentially, you squat every workout and alternate the bench press and press, and the deadlift and power clean. This schedule is for three days per week, allowing a two-day rest at the end of the week. It will mean that one week you press and power clean twice, and the next week bench and deadlift twice.”

    Now, I recognize that the A/B thing is a lot to think about, and that your Three Day Split RPT is much easier to remember and follow consistently. However, how do you explain the difference between your recommendation to train each exercise once a week and Rippetoe’s recommendation to train each exercise multiple times a week (w/ squats at the front of EVERY work out)?

    Believe me, I prefer the Three Day Split, but just curious.



    • Ah the reason for the difference is simple. SS Is a more taxing routine, thus I would not recommend it on a cut.
      Nothing to do with simplicity.

      Squatting 3 days a week when cutting is not a good idea. When you progress to slow-bulk then by all means give it a go Adam.

  213. Hey Andy, I stumbled upon your site reading up on IF. I do not see any “shoulder” workout in the workout you posted. Do you believe overhead press is not needed or is the bench providing enough shoulder workout?

    • Yes it’s generally considered unnecessary to do direct shoulder work and can leave you with healthier shoulders in the long run, if the Deadlift and Bench are performed correctly.

      • Above this someone asks if their workout plan is ok and it includes shoulders and you say it’s ok, I’m a bit confused? Cheers

        • The above statement does not mean that direct shoulder training can/should not be done, the question should be whether it is necessary. This depends on each individual’s situation.

          • If overhead is going to be included, would you recommend doing it on day 3 with squats (as in the example above)? This would mean benching on wednesday and pressing on friday – not much rest between.

            Or would it be better to move the pressing to wednesday? This would give the shoulders more rest between workouts but would involve bench and overhead press in one workout – would this be too much?

            I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks.

            • There are arguments for and against both which you have just stated Chris. The answer is, it depends. Have a read of Stuart’s article and my article on progressing. They both talk about the principles or program design which you will need to understand if you re to answer that question for yourself.

  214. Hi Andy,

    Thanks for all the help and advice you give us. Do you have any substitutions for deadlifts and squats for someone that has lower back pain?

      • Andy I just finished this article and if I’m reading it right, to replace the dead lift do to lower back pain I’m going to be doing RPT style Laying hamstring curls + shrugs??? If you have a better idea please let me know. Dead lift has always been my strongest and favorite lift, I was doing 415lbs x 4-6 reps on my Top Set. But all of a sudden my lower back has gotten progressively tighter the last 2-3 sessions and last night, for the first time in 2 years (since I dialed in proped DL form) it completely failed me and I was stopped cold at 325lbs. My hands were trembling, my back just refused to work, and even through I tried to fight through the tightness with a weight belt, I had to walk away from the bar… This has never happened before, I could always fight through the tightness and get the work done! I feel miserable and I’m genuinely scared, what if this is permanent and I’m only 30. It feels like a six pack may be impossible for me now. Please help.

  215. Firstly thanks for clearing up that warm ups are okay for deads, squats, bench. Since then I’ve been doing warmup sets up to 80% lb x (less than top set minimum reps)… and increasing Personal Record each week.

    Now I might be screwing up the other side of the workout though LOL :)

    Coming back down the pyramid on Benches recently, I’ve reduced by 10% 4 reps, again 8 reps, again 9 reps, again 9 reps, before moving to pushups… so that’s 4 sets after already doing warmups and 2 top sets.

    Same with Squats recently after warmups and 2 top sets, I’ve reduced by 10% 8 reps, again 9, again 7, again 7, before moving to chins… so that’s 4 sets after already doing warmups and 2 top sets again.

    In Martin’s recent post FAI http://www.leangains.com/2011/09/fuckarounditis.html point #3 “You don’t plan for progress”, He uses this example:
    “Squat: 200 x 6-8 x 2.
    Set 1: 200 x 8
    Rest 3-5 mins. Reduce the load by 10% for the second set.
    Set 2: 180 x 8 (however many reps you can get)”

    THE QUESTION: Warmups aside, if I’m doing 4 to 5 reduced sets after my top set, am I doing too much?

    In reading Martin’s the Coaching Paradox, and “HOw people fail New Years Resolutions” http://www.leangains.com/2009/01/how-people-fail-their-new-years.html I felt like he was talking about me in point #2 “Being Impatient…” should I limit the post maximum sets to 1 or 2? Thanks

    • Never mind Andy, I double-checked LeanGains site, and saw the answer:

      No more than 3 sets per core move (not counting warmups)
      - so that’s target plus 1 or 2 reduced sets then stop

      He also mentions:
      deads: on follow-up sets, only go up to target set # of reps +1 (not more)
      squat: on follow-ups, go past target set # of reps as much as you can

  216. Day 1 (Monday)
    Deadlift 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid style -2 sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set weight
    Rest 5-10 mins.
    Chins – Same as deadlifts
    Pendlay Rows – 3×5 x 3 sets

    Day 3 (Wednesday)
    Bench press 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid style – 2 sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set weight
    Rest 5-10 mins
    Weighted Pull-ups 2-3 sets of 3-5
    Rest 5-10 mins

    Day 5 (Friday)
    Squats 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid style – 2 sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set weight
    Rest 5-10 mins.
    Overhead Press 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps reverse pyramid style – 2 sets of warm up with 50-60% of first set weight
    Rest 5-10 mins

    So far I noticed progress with every exercise, I was able to either add weight or add one more rep.
    I also noticed that my sets usually go like this:

    1 – 3-4 reps
    2 – 5-6 reps
    3 – 6-8 reps

    So i guess I am getting bit of everything.
    I also noticed that the warm ups can affect the first real set.
    If I put like 70-80% in the warm up, then my 1st set suffers right away, so I try to do lighter warm ups. So far, I love it. It is short, I see progress, and I don’t have to spend 1H in the gym.
    One day is usually around 35min.

    Thanks again for info. You put it in simple words!!!

    • Andy, do you think the routine above is OK or too much?
      What is you opinion?
      I copied that routine from the fuckarounds post.

        • After two months of doing above I noticed that I got stocked on the squat. I progressed from 215×3 to 215×5 but I have days when I can only do 4 reps. In case of the dead lift I went from 305×4 to 305×6, but once I was able to get that 6th rep all of my other workouts during the week suffered. Is it possible that energy used to do that 6th rep can influence rest. Also, because my squat started to suffer I am thinking if should I switch to 8rep range or do it every 2 weeks? What do you think?

          Thank you again.

  217. Top set – to failure. What if i cant bench for my last 3 rep of my top set, supposedly I am doing 8,10,12? Should i reduce?

    • So you got 9, and your target range for your last set was 10-12 then right? If it’s just one rep don’t bother, you will probably get it next week. If it’s three short of the bottom number in the range then yes, reduce.

  218. Andy, what assistance would you add to the above for mass gains? I understand the rational behind the template for cutting and retaining mass, but it seems a little low on volume for getting bigger?

    • Less is more, I throughly believe that. This is not just my opinion, but that of Martin Berkhan who trains one in three days and also Stuart McRobert -author of Beyond Brawn. Martin says he throws in some calf raises and tricep presses on top of the above, but I think that’s it.

  219. Regarding bench press: At times I am unable to find a spotter to help me during my top set, would an alternative to the barbell bench be the dumbbell bench?


    If dumbell is a good alternative is there anything to watch out for in regard to form?

    • Important point to remember when Benching is this: you fail when you cannot get the last rep with perfect form. This means no butt off bench, no one shoulder higher than the other, all perfect reps.

      A spotter should be there for when you fail that last rep only, and give just enough assistance to enable you to complete it with proper form. Too many times, spotters are used to force out multiple reps that do nothing but give the spotter a deadliest workout. For times that you may not have a spotter, for that last rep, if you do miss it with perfect form, lifting your butt off the bench and using less than perfect form could be used to complete that last rep. (This rep doesn’t count and shouldn’t be written down in your log though.) Perfect form is there to keep you safe and free of injury however, so don’t make this a regular thing.

      No safety rack/pins you can set and use?

      Pro’s and con’s of using DB instead of BB. DBs allow for a more natural path of motion as your hands are not fixed in position (they can be easier on the shoulder and elbow joints), but don’t allow for the smaller % incremental jumps when moving up in weight that the Bench does.

      The DBs are also difficult to get in position when lifting very heavy, and if you don’t have a spotter you may injure yourself by extending the rage of motion too greatly.

      If you decide to go with the bench and have no safety rack/pins, use the power rack. I’ve read advice to don’t use collars. Then if you miss your last rep you can rest the bar on your chest and dump the weights off either side. Not ideal though, and a bit dangerous. A last resort.

    • I sometimes do weighted dips and standing overhead dumbell raises instead of bench press. Scooby’s Workshop doesn’t do bench press at all (and his pecs are massive)… he stresses squeezing over pushing movements, using dumbelll flys, dumbell press, incline versions, and variations of pushups.

      I personally do Bench press followed by pushups or dips. but what Andy said about people using too much weight, losing form, and losing results seems to be ESPECIALLY TRUE with the bench press.

      • In my personal cycle right now, I only do dips and the press. You can substitute these two for the bench and still develop your chest. When this cycle ends, I will probably go back to bench for a cycle.

        Please remember that while Scooby’s site is an awesome valuable source of information, and one that we should be grateful he has taken the time to write, he’s been writing the site for a long while, which means he suffers from the same problem the magazines suffer -how to keep things new and interesting (to sell magazines and keep blog followers coming back), when there isn’t really any additional information that will help people achieve their goals.

        While yes, he may do all those variations for chest, they are not all necessary in one program, and most people would get better results picking two, focusing hard on improving in those specific strength areas, and keeping to that, rather than screwing around half-heartedly in 5 variations.

        Scooby is absolutely right however, the bench press isn’t necessary to build a chest. (But let’s not forget the Bench-Press is not just a chest exercise.) Pushup variations will take you far, and Jason Ferruggia is a big fan of these.

        Just to make this absolutely clear, choose your 3-6 exercises and focus on them and NOTHING else for the time being. Don’t keep changing things from workout to workout.

        My current cycle is: Squat, Deadlift, Chins, Press, Dips. Thats it.

    In your example (again just an exampple I know :) ) you mention 3 days / week Deads on Mondays and Squats on Fridays (4 days from Deads to Squats, then 3 days from Squats to Deads; and 7 days from Deads to Deads, as well as 7 days from Squats to Squats), BUT…

    Martin (again from what I saw on LeanGains and FreeTheAnimal) suggests Dead Lifts be done equal OR LESS THAN once per week. He mentions that his past cycles have included deads/squats once per 8-10 day cycle; and actually states that they should not be done more than once per 8-14 day cycle. SO…

    Was the split you suggested just a snapshot of an 8-14 days cycle, or actually suggesting a 7 day cycle?

    Martin does mention that hitting legs and lower back every 4 days works for his clients, but… that’s in the context of the time between squats and deads – NOT squats to squats or deads to deads, as far as I can tell.

    Right now my workouts are Sun, Tue, and Thu (2-3 days between workouts), but since I don’t attach moves to days, I get 4-5 days from Squats to Deads and from Deads to Squats. That also means I get 9-10 days between my Deads, and 9-10 days between my Squats. This is how it looks:
    Sun Deads, Tue Bench, Thu Squats, Sun Bench, Tue Deads, Thu Bench, Sun Squats, Tue Bench, Thu Deads, Sun Bench, etc.

    Some times I replace Benches with Dips to add more days between repeating the movement.

    So I’m curious if you do similar or are suggesting a 7 day cycle? (If so I would guess, it’s for the same reasons I posted in my REPS question – Beginners, Lower weights, etc.) Looking forward to your clarification!

    • I suggest a 7 days cycle for two very good reasons.

      1. It requires less thinking. As most people do the IF and cycle calories too, a weekly cycle mean that it’s easier for people to keep track (Monday will always be the same meals), gym holidays can be planned around and don’t interrupt the training cycle, and regular weekly events (dinner’s out) can be planned for in a clients diet.
      A longer cycle can be confusing, which can cause frustration and isn’t sustainable. I try and plan everything out to work for the long-term for people.

      2. I think it allows sufficient rest* for most people . Advances trainees may need further rest but less advanced people doing this would just be training possible sub-optimally. An 8 day> cycle is targeted at those people.

      (*For Deadlift and Squat recovery times I think in terms of recovery of the weakest part i.e. the lower back. Squat is less taxing on the lower back than Deadlift, hence the 3 days rest after squats and 4 day rest after the DL.)

      • Tha’ts smart to do what’s most sustainable and sensible for most people. I think I got a good compromise between cycling and resting by keeping my exercise/hi carb days the same every week, while replacing/postponing squat/deads with upper body when needed.

        My hamstring muscles (semitendinosus area) are still aching (from my first non-machine Deadlifts 4 days ago), so I postponed today’s scheduled squats ’til my next exercise day, pretty simple. But to make use of those carbs I did an upper body workout (chins, pushups)

  221. REPS:
    Your example (I know it’s just an example :) is 3 x 6-12 (3 sets: max 6-8 rep, -10% 8-10 rep, -10% 10-12 rep) for deads, chins, and bench, BUT…

    the example I saw on LeanGains was Deads 2 x 3-5, Chins 3 x 4-6 (or 2 x 4-6 weighted followed by 1 x 10-12 bodyWeight), and Bench 3 x 8-12.

    Also Martin says on FreeTheAnimal he had Richard do Benches of 2 x 6-8 (He mentions Benches are higher reps because approaching failure on Bench is not effective as approaching failure on Deads), and he mentions that Chins are best trained weighted in the 4-6 range, SO…

    I’m wondering why you reference 6-12, as opposed to 3-5, 4-6, and 6-8 (I”m wondering if it’s because A. the blog is for Beginners B. 6-12 makes more sense with lower weights C. Viewers are more focused on fat loss than muscle gain D. 3-4 Reps is reserved for breaking plateus after Back-Cycling? (Martin mentions, “up the weight by 2.5% and continue doing that until the 3-4 rep range depending on movement. Back-cycle to the 6-9 rep range and start the cycle over again)

    I’m curious about your perspective on this

    • 3-5 is approaching 1-rep-max weights. I fear that there will be many people that take this to mean “Do Three Reps!” and then get all 3 of those reps with terrible form on a weight they can’t truly handle, risking unjust somewhere down the line.

      If you do a 6-8 rep range, you can’t cheat them all. Personally I use 6-8 for everything as written above. It’s working so I’m continuing with it.

      More experienced people will just go with what they know works for them.

    • Andy I had a similar question shown above. I have been doing most of my training in a low rep range. Deads 3-5, bench 4-6, squat 4-6, chins 4-6, dips 5-7. on the leangains website martin talks about adding weight once you have reached the top of your rep range which I understand, but here you talk about working in a different rep range for each of the 3 sets. For instance If my top set for deads were 300×3-5 reps my next set was 10% less at 280×3-5 reps and when ever i hit the 5th rep in either of the sets i would add weight the next go around. So should i change the way i progress in my sets or the rep range im working in for certain exercises?

  222. I wasn’t doing warmups because of how I interpreted a comment from Martin on FreeTheAnimal “What’s the point of half-assing it with two easy sets which leaves you semi-fatigued so that you can never get one truly good set in?”

    I took this to mean I should just go straight to my heaviest workset (rather than risk being fatigued by lower weight sets), so…

    Why is it okay to do warmup sets, if we want to have enough energy to lift as much or more than the last workout? (I think it’s because the < 90% won't fatigue but curious of your opinion)

    • Certainly this is not what he meant. What he was referring to was Pyramid Training where he argues people tire themselves out before hitting the top set.

      If you’re target is an 8 rep top set (8rep max), do warm-up sets to 70-80% of the 8rep max, with lower reps in those sets (4-5) and then rest 3 minutes before the top set.

  223. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for posting this RPT page. I refer to your page for everything from diet or workout, but previously relied on Martin’s post at LeanGains and FreeTheAnimal. Nice to have it here, too. I’ll post separate questions instead of making one long comment…

    Thank Yous: 1. I got that chinups are better than pullups, but missed the point about not going to failure from JF – thanks for including that.

    2. Wasn’t doing warmups, thanks for mentioning 3-4 warmups approaching 80%.

    3. Thanks for mentioning that sometimes you need an extra day of rest too.
    Questions in my next post…


    • Followed it to the letter.
      I messed around with lunges too on the squat day but just one set of 40 strides. Not sure if this helped or hindered things though. I ended up jacking it in half way through due to soreness, probably unnecessary soreness.

      I did do rotator cuff stabilization work for a slightly injured shoulder. This consisted of medium-weight Turkish Get-Ups once a week as well as a lot of band work and stretching. But insignificant to the overall transformation.

      Thanks for the question.

    • hi andrew, so you want to tell me that doing 1-2 exercises on a workout which is about 20min in total will help me to build some muscle and lose fat? :) i know i would need to push myself to failure in that exercise but coming in a gym at 10am and leaving 10.20pm dont think will really affect me that much. maybe its just a key exercises maybe i can add some more myself? thanks

      • My thoughts on training are clearly outlined in this and other articles on the site. For any gaps then there are several books that I have linked to. I don’t believe in half hearted efforts. The focus on failure in your comment above illustrates a knowledge gap. Have a good read, understand the principles and then enjoy a long, prosperous and healthy training career.

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