Martin Berkhan RPT

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:

Monday

1. Deadlift

  • Warm-up sets
  • Top Set 4-6reps – 3mins rest
  • Set 2 (-10-15%) 6-8reps – 2mins rest
  • Set 3 (-10-15%) 8-10reps
  • 3mins rest (or however long it 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.

Wednesday

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.

Friday

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, How to Progress from ‘The Big 3′ to Split Routines


Got it, now how do 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

Andy Morgan‘Three Day Split RPT’ Routine

775 Comments on “‘Three Day Split RPT’ Routine”

  1. Ark

    Hi Andy,

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I am loving it. Just a question on the choice of the exercises.
    Is it good idea to substitute conventional DL with the trap bar DL?

    Thanks,
    Ark.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Well, this really depends on the context of the question. I need you to be more specific so I’m not left guessing, or writing paragraphs unnecessarily.

      1. Ark

        Hi Andy,

        Sorry for not being specific. I want to start RPT as you listed the schedule. I’m 44, and I weight lifted for years on and off. My last program is Brawn type 2 days a week slow progression.
        My back is not my best friend lately and giving the age I am thinking to use trap bar for DL on Mondays.

        Please share your thought. I’d appreciate that.

        Thank you,
        Ark

        1. Andy Morgan

          Ark, thanks. If that is the right thing to do for your back, the exercises are similar enough so that you could consider it a one for one swap. If. Don’t guess it, get an expert opinion from a sports doctor.

  2. Kody

    Hey Andy,

    I am anticipating being ready to switch from cutting to slow bulking in 2-4 weeks or so. I am wondering about switching from a 3 day split to a 4 day split. I want to do this so that I wouldn’t have to do squats and overhead press on the same day. My legs need the most work (in terms of aesthetics) so I would like to add a little volume to that day but not be too tired to do any shoulder work.

    To clarify, I know that I can do this if I want to. I understand your concepts enough to be able to adjust my calorie and macro cycling to have 4 work days and 3 rest days and still hit the right averages. My question is really just; In your opinion, would this actually be as beneficial as it seems in my head?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Kody.
      I have no way of seeing into your head, so I cannot answer whether that will be better or worse then how it seems in your head. All I can do is point you to the guides on the site and with the context of the principles there, you’ll be fine with any changes you make.
      To set up with 4 days training a week in terms of macros, see this post.

      1. Kody

        Ha ha… Man, I didn’t want to be one of those people that asked a stupid question that can’t be answered. Anyway, thank you! Your site is super helpful. I’ll just give it a shot and decide if it’s worth it to spend an extra day in the gym or if I’m wasting time.

  3. T4Sc

    Hi Andy,

    First off; Big fan of your site – I recommend it to anyone who asks about my diet and training. Quick question:

    Friday is back day, so deadlifts, weighted chins, and shrugs. Thinking of replacing shrugs with face pulls as I’m not feeling them. Am I in danger of contracting “f**karounditis” or…?

    Cheers
    Tristan

  4. josh

    Hey Andy, would you recommend the three set RPT over the two set RPT ( as described by 31minutes ama on reddit) where you do more movements but for two sets instead of three? Thanks ahead of time man.

  5. Kierran Clarke

    Hi Andy,

    If you are having a “bad day” in the gym, and are struggling to hit your standard rep and weight range, would you recommend to do as much as you can at your top set, or drop the weight and make sure you hit the desired rep range?

  6. Jaime

    Why are you using 4-6 reps for deadlifts on monday, and 6-8 reps for all of the other big lifts on the other days’ top set?

  7. Alex

    Hi Andy!

    I’m sticking to this updated RPT routine since you published it. I’ve also added some steady state cardio(~50 min walk) on the rest days, so now it looks like: Su – Back, Mo – Cardio, Tu – Chest, We – Cardio, Th – Legs, Fr+Sa – Rest.

    I use recomp macros and train fasted first thing in the morning. After reading Starting Strength and since I don’t have a big caloric deficiency I consider to add a Power Clean exercise to this routine.

    And here are the questions I have:
    1. Should I add the Power Clean at all? Is it a sound idea?
    2. If it is, on which day should I add the PC? I think about Tu(chest day) as a least loaded, but wouldn’t it affect my recovery from DL and impair my squat performance?
    3. If I add it, how many sets/reps? Should it also be done in the RPT fashion?

    Thanks a lot,
    Alex.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Alex.
      1. If you have someone to coach you, sure. If not, it poses an unnecessary injury risk to the physique focussed trainee.
      2/3. Save me reaching for my copy, see Rippetoe’s advice in his book bud.

  8. steven

    Hi Andy,

    Is there any easy way to tilt RPT towards one particular muscle group? I’d like to prioritize legs over the upper body. Is it as simple as just only doing the bench work out every other cycle of three?

    Cheers.

  9. crr1114

    not sure if this is a macro adjustments question or a training question, so i’ll fire away here first.

    as i transition from cut to bulk, i feel like i’d love to lift an extra day, so basically 4 days in 10 (every other day times four, then two days off). on the other hand, i’d be willing to be that i probably don’t really need to increase frequency, and that three days are just fine. i just enjoy lifting so much i’d rather do the extra day.

    any recommendations about adding another day? i only ask because i also recognize this represents another 300-500 kcal per week on intake and i’d like to stay as lean as possible during the bulk. should i:

    (a) not worry about it and just add the extra day
    (b) not worry about it and lift three days per week
    (c) increase frequency to 4 days per week without adjusting macros, then adjust macros after a week or two of doing this frequency
    (d) take the 4th derivative of the natural log of the number of training days, times pi, divided by the degree to which i’m over-analyzing this (nth), plus sine 67 degrees…and increase macros by that amount
    (e) none of the above

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Chris.
      “i feel like i’d love to lift an extra day”
      Don’t program based on feeling, program based on how you progress. Be systematic. Try one thing, then the other if you prefer. As you’ve noted, the overall difference in calories throughout the week with an extra training day will be small relatively, so you can make that change without worrying about it.

  10. Anubis Lockward

    Hi Andy, I don’t know if this has been answered anywhere else, but I got this question:

    I’m currently doing RPT, I’m 5′ 9″, 157 lbs, 32 years old male, and my routine looks like this:

    [The next 2800 characters deleted. Reason below. - Andy]

    1. Andy Morgan

      Anubis, thank you for the comment. Clearly you’ve put a lot of time into it, but it was 2957 characters long.

      If you have a question please know you’re welcome to ask, but if it takes such a lengthy post then I think it’s beyond fair use of the comments – which is to clarify points that are unclear in the articles.

      I’ve deleted the majority of it so that the page is kept tidy, load times are lower, and smartphone users don’t have to endlessly scroll.

      1. Anubis Lockward

        Sorry! Didn’t feel that long tho, it’s just that I had so many questions, lets try again.

        I’ve been doing RPT for the last 4 months, and although I feel I’m making progress with it, I was just wondering if I should change to the Big 3 routine until I reach a decent weight, and then continue with RPT.

        Currently my max are: 185 lbs for the Deadlift, 120 lbs on Squats (had to reset, that’s why is so low) and 170 lbs for the Bench.

        The other question was related to the weighted Chin-ups, but I’ll wait until you answer this one to ask again.

        Thanks in advance, and sorry for the long post.

        1. Andy Morgan

          Anubis, thanks.
          The squats need more frequency and volume so that you can work on form, which was the purpose of the reset (I assume). RPT for this exercise is not suitable at this time – mentioned this above.¥
          You’re asking whether you should do ‘a’ or ‘b’, which ignores any middle ground tailoring things to yourself. Every exercise doesn’t have to be either RPT or straight sets, some exercises can be performed more frequently than others.

          1. Anubis Lockward

            well, right now, I’m not doing RPT style for the Squats, but still I’m only doing them once a week on Fridays, I do 5 x 5 with the Squats to practice form, should I do the Squats two or three times a week until I nail the form? right now I can do 5 sets of 5 reps with 120 lbs and it feels easy, that’s why I’m upping the weight to 135 lbs for the next session. But I guess that you’re telling me that I can do them more frequently until I reach a decent weight.

            The other question was related to the Chin-Ups, I increase the weight everytime I can get 8 reps for the top set, with 20 lbs hanging from the belt I can do them, but since I got to 25 lbs, I’ve been stuck there for 5 weeks straight, I can do 7 reps since the first time I used that weight, but I can’t get past that, what should I do?

            thanks for your reply, hope that I’m not bothering you.

  11. Zlatko Knudsen

    Hi Andy. I have read like almost every articel on this site – thank you for all the insight!

    But one question i gotta ask, even though i feel very dumb asking it:
    If i go on a slow bulk using leangains and reverse pyramide, should i eat over maintenance every day?

  12. Michael arrieta

    Andy, keeping in mind the necessary recovery times when training with RPT, you keep it to training 3 days a week. You also mentioned at most days in the gym train 4 days a week for a lean bulk. How would you design an effective RPT program for a 4 day a week training on a lean bulk?

  13. sam132

    Hey Andy,

    In Deadlifts I find on my first rep I get wobbly legs, rep 2-4 they seem fine.

    Today I ended up taking a step forward to settle them down (once the weight had been pulled to the top).

    What can I do to stop this?

    FYI:
    – I do 3 mins on incline at 6.5 on the treadmill, followed by two warm up deadlift sets.

    – Due to running twice a week, at the moment I’m not squatting and my squat would be around the same weight as my deadlift.

    – The wobble seems to becoming from my quads.

    – I use sumo lift as I find I have a much better form.

    Many thanks,

    Sam

      1. sam132

        Thanks Andy, I will try a new warm up routine:

        – x 8
        2 min rest
        – x 5
        2 min rest
        – x 3
        2 min rest
        – x 1 (80%)
        Rest at least 3 mins
        – max effort

        If no luck, I’ll get a personal trainer to take a look at my form.

        Thanks again,

        Sam

        1. Andy Morgan

          Sam, I think you’re going about this the wrong way. A warm-up should be what you feel you need on that specific day, to perform your best. This doesn’t lend itself to a fixed pattern. Fine to go with the above, but listen to your body and adjust on a per session basis. More notes in the FAQ

  14. roman

    hey Andy. What would be a good 4 day split. I have been doing 3 day split for a cut. Want to try to add another day and give a bulk a try. Would alternating push/pull days work? Thanks
    BTW. Could not be happier with the results of my online coaching program. Thanks again

  15. Mehul

    Hi Andy

    Just wondering whether there is a massive difference in standing overhead press and sitting overhead press.

    Thanks

    Mehul

  16. Pike

    Hi Andy,

    Have you ever experienced deadlift kicking your ass? My 1rpm is 170kg, I generally work out in an RPT from 150kg-ish, but, sometimes I can barely handle 100kg, it’s like I just don’t have it in me… Is this CNS fatigue?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Pike. Heavy deadlifts will kick everyone in the ass.
      If on some days you can’t handle “even 100kg”, and this happens frequently, then you have a recovery issue and need to make adjustments to either energy intake, frequency, total work (sets, reps)… .

      1. Pike

        Thanks Andy,
        I’ve been in a serious cut, so maybe that’s been affecting my lift. I’ve only just recently started deadlift, and then started dieting, so it’s hard to establish a baseline. Today I was back up to 160 in my top set, and 110 with fat gripz.

        The “off” days, my rational mind says I can lift it, but my body says otherwise :/

        Cheers

  17. steven

    Hi Andy,

    I’ve been using the RPT split for a few months now, and along with taking your advice on diet and where the biggest marginal gains are to be made I’m making decent progress. Or at least progress I’m very happy with.

    I train for BJJ and so some element of speed and endurance is necessary for the sport. I used to do a body weight workout one or twice a week to supplement my training, but I left this when I started on your RPT example workout to concentrate on strength.

    The body weight workout consisted of 5 rounds of 10 single leg squats, 12 ring dips, 15 chins and 10 body blasters. For time. I’m aware of what Martin thinks about crossfitters, but I know you’ve worked with several of them in the past so I wanted to put a question to you.

    I tried this workout for the first time a few months because my gym was closed for a few days. I thought perhaps my time would have slipped, but I was much much slower than I used to be.

    I’ve put on a few kilos since I started the RPT but I don’t think any of it is body fat. So my question is whether there are definite sacrifices to be made in terms of you ability to complete this type of body weight endurance tests when you concentrate on RPT for bulk?

    I know it could easily be that I was tired, coming down with something, stiff from a leg day workout three days earlier (my last workout). But I thought it would also be good to know just what to expect to happen to my performance in these other areas.

    Thanks loads for the great site and all the free advice you pass on.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Steven, thanks for the comment. On this one, unfortunately I simply don’t know.
      My guess would be that you’d improve your endurance, as each bodyweight rep represents less of a one-rep max the stronger we get. Clearly some of those exercises have a skill element that needs to be practiced (pistol squats, no idea what body blasters are).

  18. Dany

    Hi
    Is it possible to get good results without the squat? (the reason is an injury that allows only deadlift, bench and chins).

    Thank you.

      1. Dany

        Can you give an example to what you mean?

        Adding more sets/reps/dead lift days? What to do with the “squat day” in order to keep it intensive enough?

        Thank you.

        1. Andy Morgan

          “Can you give an example to what you mean?”
          Covered in the article I linked to Dany. There are many ways to go about it which I why I linked to an article on the principles so that you can make decisions. I appreciate you wish for a single answer, but such personal programming questions are kind of beyond the scope of the comments.

  19. Lewis Reche

    Hi Andy.

    Isnt this a very low frequency routine? Or do you find it is okay because you work close to failure in the first sets. I really think beginners and intermediate lifters can progress better with upper-lower routines 4 days a week. And Im talking about natural lifters, people on roids is another term.

    Am I wrong?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Lewis.
      What is ‘better’? This depends on the individual, not least how you define better. I’ve covered this question in the opening of this article. Let me know what you think.
      A beginner has no place with the above routine – I’ve covered this above.
      Whether it can be used with bulking or cutting is also covered above bud.

  20. John

    Hi Andy,

    I have been following the above program for some time on a cut which decent results.

    I recently discovered by accident that having more days rest in between each session has resulted in signifigant strength gains. Average of 10 – 12 days training each lift. Strength has gone up the past 5 training sessions where previously I was just maintaining or even loosing ground on some lifts.

    My recovery is less than optimal, I’m almost 50 and I don’t sleep well and have life stresses, jobs, kids, etc., I like a static schedule but am considering making this a permenant schedule given that it’s working so well. I would have never believed in the past that training a lift on such a infreqent basis would merit such results and maybe it’s because I was over reaching in the past. Do you have any thoughts/experience with others on this?

    Thanks! -John

    1. Andy Morgan

      Not sure what I can say here John. Sounds like you’ve found a good recovery balance and are doing well, which is great. Everyone is different in this regard though.

    2. Tom

      Your comment interests me as I’m 58 and don’t seem to be getting much stronger. I can’t tell what you mean by 10 -12 days training each lift. Do you mean you have that many rest days between squats for instance?

      1. John

        Correct, following the 3 day split above, 10-12 days in between each session instead of the 8 days above or once per week.
        Example:
        Monday: deads, chins
        Thursday: Bench, Incline DB
        Sunday or Monday: Squats
        Wednesday or Thursday: deads chins
        Etc.,
        I thought detraining would be an issue with that many days between, but turned out to be the opposite for me.

  21. Dean Shah

    Andy,

    Are forearm and calf sizes genetically pre-determined and that is why they are hard to develop or am I wrong and they can become as big as we train them to be as long as we do it right?

    Thank you, sir!

  22. edward

    my current routine is similar,
    day 1
    dumbbell bench 3 sets
    chinups 3 sets
    t bar rows 3 sets
    tricep rope 3 sets and then 1 or 2 sets of hack squats or front squats about 3 reps from failure
    2 sets for abs
    day 2 rest
    day 3
    front squats 3 sets
    romanian deadlifts 3 sets
    leg curls 3 sets
    calve raises 3 sets and 1 or 2 supersets of bench and chins about 3 reps from failure
    2 sets for abs
    day 4 rest then repeat, i do the same rest periods and rep goals would you suggest any changes?

  23. DarrenA

    Hi Andy

    Question on coming back after a break, after 2 months of continuous training.

    Generally the recommendation is to drop the weight after a break and build up the weight say from 70/80/90 then 100%

    What about instead dropping the reps and building up. So 100kg at 10 reps, and starting at 7 reps, working back to 10 reps over a few weeks.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Not sure. My gut says that dropping the weight, not reps is the best move, as the same weight at lower reps would still be more taxing on an unprepared CNS.

  24. Jimmy

    Hey man ! lets say im using this for aesthetics and im on a bulk, do you think this program would best fit me even if i am on a cut? and also is using only 2 exercises per workout session really enough? how long does it usually think to complete these workouts because it seems as if this could be done in less than 30 mins. if beneficial should i add maybe one or two exercise into these?

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Jimmy. If you are advanced enough to be considering the above routine (see the notes at the top) then this will be enough. See the site FAQ for answers to your question on additional exercises.

  25. Sam

    Hey Andy,

    I’m currently basing my workout on a Reddit post from a former client of Martins. The routine is slightly modified as follows:

    A: Back day
    Deadlift 2×3-4
    Overhead Press 3×6-12
    Pull ups 3×6-12
    BO Rows 3×6-12
    C.G. Chins 3×6-12

    B: Chest Day
    Incline Bench press 3×6-12
    Dips 3×6-12
    Push ups 2 sets

    C: Leg day
    Squat 3×4-8
    Calves 1×12-16
    Ab work 2 sets
    Barbell curls 3×6-12

    Have I strayed too far from the basics? Or will I burn out doing the above?

    What do you think? I’ve been working out on/off for the past six years.

    Thanks,

    Sam

      1. Sam

        Thanks Andy, was that guest post written especially for me!? Haha! Great read. Did you use only six exercises during your before and after photos you published?

        I’m just a little shocked here as it appears to go against everything I’ve ever been told! It’s just going from six exercises per workout (including directly working out with isolations) to say two big compound exercises is a big psychological shift to what I thought was the principles of an effective workout..

        I do now see the significance of this is that it allows one to focus on just a few pillar exercises, progressively increasing loads to achieve set goals. As this would of been lost during my previous workouts.

        Thanks,

        Sam

  26. steven

    Hi Andy,

    I’ve been using this routine for a while and quite happy with the progress. Sorry if I’ve missed this question elsewhere on the site, but why does the rest time decrease from 3min to 2min. For strength gains guys like Martin seem to say 3min – 5min. Again, apologies if this has been answered before but I couldn’t find it.

    Cheers!

    1. Andy Morgan

      I don’t think it makes a huge difference, as long as the interval is fixed to retain the workout variables. It was Martin’s recommendation originally so you’re best off asking him bud.

  27. John

    Andy, me old bean…

    What do you think to Hypertrophy specific training? Load of old tosh or a valid scientific basis for building muscle that looks badass? Unsure if I’m allowed to post links to other sites here…but it’s pretty easy to find some articles with a bit of Google work.

    John

  28. Ryan

    I just found this site – I have to say its fantastic! I have spent over three hours pouring over the pages and this week I have switched to a 3 day split with RPT. I have always trained with RPT in some form or the other for the last 10 years. I’m currently looking to bulk. I have the ability to follow a great diet so the macros are not the problem. My question is which routine works best for bulking on the intermediate to advanced lifter. I am 6ft tall and at the moment weigh 180lbs with around 10-11% body fat (its been winter here for a long time ;) anyway my deadlift is 315lbs. My bench is 225lbs and my squat is 315lbs. These are my 5 rep numbers. I have not tried to max on dl’s or squats. I have done one rep 300lb bench in the past just to see. Anyway if you could point me in the right direction that would be nice as the vast majority of the articles I see here are for begginers or for cutting specifically. What does an intermdiate lifter who is already pushing limits for strength and due to age (30) doesn’t really want to push the weight that much higher or risk injury as I have had a few due to the heavy amount of sports I play. So I guess what I’m asking is if I want to clean/slow bulk to 190lb – 195lb but don’t really want to add much more weight to my lifts what program will work best. the big 3 or a modified version of 3 day split RPT? Sorry if the above is a bit rambling.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Ryan. To cut through your self identified ramble I’ll quote the key question:
      My question is which routine works best for bulking on the intermediate to advanced lifter?
      There is no single best routine, it depends on individual circumstances and experimentation. Kawamori’s article on, “The Principle Of Progressive Overload” should help bud.

      1. Ryan

        Yes what an awesome article and actually one I did read prior to posting my question above albeit not thoroughly enough. I now understand the concept better and over the years I have introduced progressive overload if not as scientifically laid out in the article by Kawamori. This is how I went from a scrawny borderline ectomorph at 150lbs at 17 to 180lbs with intermediate – advanced lift numbers. That being said my one question after pondering the suggested article is this: What would be the most effective way to introduce overload if I don’t want to increase weight? For example in the article he mentioned how ineffective it would be to do 17 reps at a certain weight even though that would essentially meet the ‘principle’ of overload. Is it adding sets? That would seem to be the only option but yet in your training guides you mention 3 – 5 sets is plenty and what the body can recover from. Any more is unnecessary. I already go as deep as I can on squats and touch my chest with the bar on every press and rest only 60-90 seconds between sets. Again I’m probably rambling and have answered my own question as you will most likely say its a combination of them all and trial and error for what works for me. I get that but the frustrating part is i’ve been stuck at my weight for quite awhile now with no gains. In the past i’ve been 190 but it was fatty. Trying to do it the ‘lean bulk’ way just doesn’t seem to work. If you can add anything it would be much appreciated otherwise I think I’ll add a set and a small amount of weight and eat more and be patient. Thanks again for a fantastic site.

        1. Andy Morgan

          Hi Ryan, glad you find the site helpful.

          “What would be the most effective way to introduce overload if I don’t want to increase weight? For example in the article he mentioned how ineffective it would be to do 17 reps at a certain weight even though that would essentially meet the ‘principle’ of overload. Is it adding sets? That would seem to be the only option but yet in your training guides you mention 3 – 5 sets is plenty and what the body can recover from. Any more is unnecessary.”
          Increasing the workload, which can be through any of the methods Naoki has listed above. Sets with reps past 12 have diminishing returns.
          The comment regarding sets of 3-5 being plenty a general guide. It is not set in stone.

  29. Jack

    Hi Andy,

    I’m a fairly experienced lifter (5+ years). Due to sporting commitments I am only able to go to the gym Sunday, Monday, Wednesday. I have used Martin’s RPT principles in my training in the past and achieved great results.

    My question is: would it be possible to do a 3 day RPT split training Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday? I generally recover quite well, but it is imperative that I have 2 days rest before playing football on Saturday. I have football training on Tuesday and Thursday evening. So I avoid weight training these days because it makes it to difficult to adhere to an IF eating schedule.

    Thanks in advance,

    Jack

    BTW just wanted to let you know that you’ve done a fantastic job with the blog and I’m a huge fan!

  30. Khuyen

    Hi Andy, I’m not sure if you have seen my previous post, but can I ask you again about increasing the weight?

    What is the rationale for prioritizing meeting the rep goal first before 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). Adding 2.5lbs with same 5 reps feels easier than going to 6 reps.

    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?

    Thanks,
    Khuyen

    1. Louis XIV

      Hi, Khuyen: speaking for myself, the 3 rep ranges offer more opportunities for *progression* (this is more satisfying on days that maybe the top set does not increase but you can add weight or reps on the other sets) than just having say, a micro-loaded approach in one rep set range.

      I also like prioritizing the rep goal first because it shows you “own” the weight and that can also help safety.

    2. Andy Morgan

      Is the whole point of having the range to make sure we can have small increments?
      Yes that’s right. If an increase in weight comes easier than an increase in rep number then do that.

      The lower the rep number for any given set, the harder each extra rep will be.

  31. John

    Andy

    Apologies if this has been answered in the q’s above.

    In our last communication, you advised to change over to a split, including dips. I’ve always had issues with dips in that it causes pain in my right shoulder. Have you any other exercises to replace it? Is it mainly for tricep work? (I realise it hits chest a bit as well) If so, I’m strong on skull crushers and just about any other tricep exercise other than bench dips.

    Thanks!

    John

  32. Greg

    Hi Andy,

    I am on the fence about whether or not to use the ‘Big 3’ of ‘RPT’ for my cut. I have used ‘RPT’ during my cut with you before with very good success but I have since threaded water”, so to speak, and taken some time off (been back at it for a couple of weeks now). I am now weaker than I was at the end of that cut. Saying that, I know strength wise, I would most likely be consider an experienced (advanced) beginner at best but my recovery times are not the greatest. Based solely on recover, I may be considered an early intermediate.

    Here are some stats that may help in giving me some advice. I am ~178lbs and ~18-20% Bf with the following lift stats, currently using RPT 3 days/week. Squat 240lb x 5 reps, DL 295lb x 5 reps, Bench 155lb x 5 reps, OHP 105 x 5 reps.

    Any help would be great!!

    Thanks

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Greg. You’ve had time off, go straight sets of 5 and work your way into it. Consider an A/B split. Rather then a full split or the same each day. Change it up as per recovery needs.

      1. Greg

        Thanks for the response Andy. I was leaning towards something of that nature. I will do an A/B type split.

        Another question though, since I am on a cut, should I go straight to 3 sets per exercise or go with 5 sets and reduce per recover needs?

  33. louisXiV

    Andy (others):

    Deadlifts

    Deadlifts are my best lift but an all-out set of 5 leaves me depleted enough such that I need to remove about 30% of the weight to manage a second set with more reps (say 8-10 reps). A third set would be with the same weight as the second set but then fewer reps than the second set. Thus, I am doing just 2 sets–a set of 4-6 and then another set of 8+ after removing 30%. (My overall routine is pretty much as per the basic 3-day template and I’ve been lifting for many years.)

    Perhaps I can benefit from a third set of deads and would like to know but the very idea of it seems daunting to me unless the top set had lower intensity.

    Perhaps I’m answering my own question and simply doing 2 sets of deads is enough. But
    would love to know how you Andy and you others are managing the recommended 3 reasonably hard sets of deads assuming the first set is truly demanding. Thanks.

    1. Andy Morgan

      Sure, two sets may be enough.
      Perhaps I can benefit from a third set of deads and would like to know but the very idea of it seems daunting to me unless the top set had lower intensity.
      Lower the weight till you can hit the rep range with good form for all reps. It will be very hard, yes. But this is big boys training now. A minimalistic routine needs to be balls to the wall to work effectively.

      1. Louis XIV

        OK. So you are saying THREE sets of deads mean more than one very hard one and perhaps a backoff? You yourself did/still do the 3 sets?

        If YES, I will drop the top weight a tad on the initial set and after that top set drop as needed to get into the two higher rep ranges for the two subsequent sets.

        Does that sound about right?

        1. Andy Morgan

          A ‘back-off’ set refers to a set that has been dropped in weight, this is not a description of effort. Every set in RPT needs to be pushed very hard. This is a benefit and disadvantage which I listed above.

          1. louis XIV

            I think I understand what you are saying. To clarify, I push all sets “hard”–the top set til I cannot get one more rep in good form.

            For me a back-off set is a second set with lighter weight than the first (to me, the 2nd and 3rd sets of RPT are “back-off—even if pushed til close to failure).

            I’ll just go with one set in the 4-6 range done hard as possible (so another rep cannot be done properly), followed by two sets (stopping, say, one rep shy of failure) with lightening the loads (considerably if need be) so I can get 6-8 and maybe 8-10 reps on the deadlifts.

            This is what I do on all other moves. But on deadlifts this must entail a reduction of much more than 15% of the load in my case– and more like 30% from the top set–in order to get the requisite reps.

  34. Pike

    @pcpc:
    It hasn’t been possible to do floor presses since it’s almost impossible to get the dumbbells into a pressing position.. I don’t have the strength to curl them to my chest with my back on the ground or the balance/desire to lift them up, squat down and roll onto my back… thinking of doing it makes me cringe.

    Weighted push-ups have worked, but it’s really hard to get a good load on your back in a nice position, and until today my biggest plate was 10kg, stacking 4-5 of them and trying to do pushups with them is extremely challenging, since they move as my back muscles bunch, shoulders flex and angle changes — still, it’s not the same since it’s more like an endurance work rather than setting the weight to a 6 – 10 – 12 rep weight.

    I can do wall assisted handstand push-ups, but I do OHP on squat day, so I figure they’re about the same, why do them on different days?

    Anyway, I did the weighted dips on Wednesday, and the question is, can I use them in the place of bench? I.E. tie enough for a 6 rep max, then work back from there?

      1. Pike

        Thanks, after reading up and looking at other related exercises, would it make sense to do dips – push-ups and single arm dumbbell floor presses for Wednesday, using dip or floor press as the “main” heavy lift? (bench is pretty much out until I finish building one)

          1. Pike

            Definitely working, up to 52kg for dumb-bell 1 arm floor press from 42 in April… only increased weighted dips by 4 in my top set though. Push-ups are stupid easy these days, with +20kg, I’m doing sets of 30-40.

  35. LouisXiV

    Andy,

    Question on Wednesday (Day 2): What do pushups provide that 3 sets of RPT Bench Press did not?

    Put differently, why would you not put some other complimentary upper body work (some pulling perhaps–even daresay BB curls) on that day? But Pushups seem to do what the Bench Press just did, especially if varying rep ranges were used. Just curious as to your reasoning. Thank-you.

    1. Andy Morgan

      I could and do put different exercises in there. It all depends on the individual. Cable rows are another frequently used option. The above is just an example. If you feel you’d benefit from something else in there then go for it.

  36. Greg

    Hi Andy,

    I would love some feedback on my question I posted earlier. 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 better to use a rep range of 3-5 for all lifts or is 6-8 preferred (4-6 for deadlifts)?

    Thanks

  37. matt

    Andy, I’d still love to hear your answer to the questions I posted (especially the first one, regarding the utility of the extra drop sets on a cut vs just one work set to maintain strength). Here was my previous post:

    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?

    1. pcpc

      1) I would guess that 1 set isn’t enough to get the proper stimulation most people need. But I’m sure *some* people could be fine with one set. Also, depending on your diet, the extra sets will set you up for any potential muscle gain, and probably help with muscle maintenance.
      2) Maxing out on the first work set is not for beginners. (one) Beginners might not have a good idea of what warming up entails and not do enough, or do too much. (two) Any program that requires maxing out is less advisable for beginners, because it’s not necessary for them to progress and it requires good/awesome form, which most beginners don’t have yet. Starting Strength starts light for both of these reasons. Beginners won’t be maxing out until well into the program, when they stall and already have some experience/muscle memory under their belt.

    2. Andy Morgan

      Hi Matt sorry I missed your first question.

      1. Three sets works better to recruit all muscle fibres. One set it’s difficult/impossible.
      2. I covered this above in the “drawbacks” section. Louis covered this question in his reply to you also.

      Better to take the articles here as guidelines rather then absolutes. If you know better for your specific situation then it’s perfectly fine to adjust things. A beginner doesn’t know better though, and they are better off just sticking with the advice until they have developed enough experience to form an opinion.

  38. Marco

    Andy,

    Please give me some advise here; I want to start with this routine, I am experienced, but I don’t want to do deadlifts anymore. I have had a injury last year when something in my back shifted (sorry don’t know the English word for it). I did started deadlifts again but only very low weight (110kg), I just don’t have the confidence anymore in heavy deadlifts, please don’t try to pursue me with this ;)

    When I look at this routine, it really doesn’t maken any sense to deadlift, without going all the way of curse. Could I implement something else instead of the deadlift, it seems like a basis to start of?

    Thx in advance

    1. Andy Morgan

      Marco, thanks for the comment.
      Yes, you most likely could use other exercises and train around this issue. However it isn’t my field to say what or why. You need to see a sports specialist doctor. Further advice in the FAQ here.

  39. Rick

    Hi Andy. Love the site. Thanks for all the info. I have a two quick questions…
    1. Bench press and overhead press work the triceps quite hard. What are your thoughts on adding the overhead press to the bench press day and allowing the triceps a full week to recover? Am I correct in thinking that you have these exercises on separate days as there are no ‘direct’ tricep exercises and the triceps would not need the same recovery time?
    2. If someone was to include weighted dips, would they replace the bench press or would you recommend doing both?

    Thanks and apologies if questions are silly.
    Rick

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Rick.
      1. You can do that yes. You’ll want to put the OHP after the bench though. Forget about what the triceps can recover from, the important thing is what you need to recover from those movements.
      2. Dips cannot be loaded with the same level of ease and safety as the bench, so it would never replace it.
      Have a read of my rules for accessory work in the FAQ.

      1. Pike

        @Andy
        I couldn’t safely do bench due to plates not fitting on the dumbbell handles and really… I shouldn’t be doing such heavy weight on a swiss ball (I weigh 95kg, and I’m doing 2x60kg), so I loaded up a bag with plates and started doing dips.

        Mechanically can the dips replace the bench? Will it help me get past this spot where I’m using a 5kg, 2.5kg, and 1.25kg so I can consolidate? I did 30kg in the bag last week x 6 and followed like a standard RPT

        1. pcpc

          SWISS BALL? This must be a joke. And if it’s not, with all due respect, you need to go out and buy yourself a copy of Starting Strength and read the whole thing through. Ditch the swiss ball.

            1. pcpc

              Tough love. Seriously, swiss ball bench will get you no where fast. Try floor presses or figure out how to set up for a floor bench. Or maybe weighted push ups, banded push ups, even hand stand push ups.

  40. Richard Gibbs

    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.

    1. Alexandru

      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 :)

      1. Richard Gibbs

        I do it for all three exercises, however with Deadlift it’s less..

        Example

        60kg x5
        100kg x3
        120kg x3
        145kg x1
        155kg x5 (my work set)

        I don’t train RPT anymore, I believe in a higher frequency workload. However, I used RPT when cutting down when I was new to this and I cannot fault it. However, I am heading toward making this a profession, as a powerlifter, so I require and now prefer alternative methods. But RPT cannot be faulted, neither can Andys methods/advice.

  41. George dutra

    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

  42. matt

    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?

    1. LouisXiV

      Matt:

      Good questions. My guess is that it is set up this way because the man that popularized it (Berkhan) did it this way and he looks darned good—however unsatisfying an answer that may be. Other reasons would be arguments for multiple sets being better but an overall low volume that facilitates recovery. Likely Andy has better explanations, though.

      You are right. Indeed, in Starting Strength only one set of deadlifts is done and I have also progressed with one top work set on other big moves.

      Some argue that beginners *might* requite more practice with the lifts, hence the argument for multiple redundant work sets of a weight that can be managed across the board. And also a true top set of say 5 reps might be a bit risky for beginners who are not as practiced in the basics.

      That said, I also agree RPT is easier as the resistance drops on subsequent sets–an effect possibly due to Post-activation potentiation, which has been studied in the literature.

  43. Khuyen

    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?

    Thanks,
    Khuyen

  44. Greg

    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)?

    Thanks

  45. jonnie

    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..

    1. Louis XIV

      Jonnie: I’m in your boat. I find that some changes make a big difference in the mature trainee.

      I use Front Squat and not Back Squat. I still use Overhead Press. But closed the grip a lot on Bench Press–pinkies right to the smooth. I also pause the bottom position. This helps the shoulders a LOT.

      I still deadlift but use Rippetoe’s approach.

      IF can work well over 50, but so can any intelligent method devoid of junk.

  46. Louis XIV

    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.

  47. Alexandru

    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!

  48. Josh Walsh

    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.

    Cheers

  49. crr1114

    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…

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

      1. crr1114

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

        1. Andy Morgan

          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.

  50. Milco

    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?

    Cheers.

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

      1. Milco

        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!
        Cheers.

  51. Jesper

    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?

    1. Jesper

      Palms facing each other is an alternative as well, so either out or facing each other. Facing me is not doable at the moment.

  52. Sonny

    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.

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

      1. Sonny

        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.

  53. Pike

    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?

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  54. firesteel

    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.

  55. Abel

    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.
    Abel

      1. Abel

        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?

        1. Andy Morgan

          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.

  56. Ej

    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?

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  57. Jahan

    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

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  58. Pike

    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…

    1. Andy Morgan

      Hi Pike. Goblet squats can be a good hold over, but it really depends in what position you are in currently as to their effect and their limitation.

      1. Pike

        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.

        1. Andy Morgan

          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.

          1. Pike

            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.

            1. Pike

              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.

  59. Denny

    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

  60. Dragos

    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

    Thanks

  61. Pete

    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,
    Pete

    1. Andy Morgan

      Pete, appreciate the question, but it’s too open ended for a comment answer. Better to look up some detailed articles from well known strength coaches.

  62. Daniel Glassman

    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.

    Thoughts?

    1. Andy Morgan

      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”.

      1. Daniel Glassman

        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!

  63. Mike Arrieta

    Andy what would you recommend for increasing a vertical jump while still maintaining a program similar to RPT

  64. Steve

    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.

    Cheers,

    Steve

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  65. Dean Shah

    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!

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

      1. Dean Shah

        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?

  66. Joe G

    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.

    Thanks,
    Joe

      1. Joe

        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)..

        1. Andy Morgan

          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.

  67. JJ

    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.

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

      1. JJ

        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.

  68. Joe G

    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

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

      1. Joe G

        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!

  69. Ali

    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?

  70. Ali

    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

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  71. Ally

    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!

    1. Rodrigo Vaz (@rodrivaz)

      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!

  72. Solo,om

    Hi andy

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

    Best regard.
    Solomon

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.”

  73. Ian Dorrity

    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.

    Cheers!

    Ian

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  74. Rob

    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

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  75. Jake Ferrara

    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

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  76. Ben

    Hey Andy,

    I am a little confused.

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

    Squat
    Bench
    Deadlift

    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

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  77. AJ

    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.

  78. Jon G

    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? ;)

    Cheers

    Jon

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

  79. Austin Wilder

    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?
    Thanks

  80. Tom

    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

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

      Example:
      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.

  81. Roman

    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?

  82. Mark Edward Ellul

    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.

    Cheers.

    1. Andy Morgan

      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.

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