Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably one of the best known bodybuilding figures for the general public. He is still considered to have one of the most aesthetic physiques that ever took the podium. So, what was the secret to his training?
“When I trained, I tried to do all rep ranges in the same workout,” Schwarzenegger has said. “I’d lift heavy weight with low reps, light with high reps, and moderate with moderate reps. It gave my muscles an extremely well-rounded workout instead of letting them get used to one particular resistance. I’d even take it a step further and perform all these rep ranges in the course of a single exercise by using one of my favorite training principles: pyramids.”
Schwarzenegger refers to the pyramid principle that involves decreasing the rep range as you increase the weight for each set in an exercise. Time will prove that he has been absolutely right in choosing his training principle. According to the most recent research coming from Iran, pyramid training is very effective in increasing the size and strength.
This conclusion is based on the results of a controlled training study lasting 8 weeks, focused on establishing which loading pattern has the best impact on strength and muscle mass – the double-pyramid loading pattern or the reverse-step loading pattern. In the double pyramid you start with lighter weights, but you do more reps. As you progress, you add weight but at the same time you lower the reps. This routine is identical to the single pyramid up to this point. However, in the double pyramid you continue with the exercise by reducing the weight and increasing the reps. In the reverse step loading you start the workout with the heaviest weight and fewest reps, and with each next set you decrease the weight and increase the reps. Hence the term reverse pyramid.
The study has shown that although both groups had an increase in strength, those that were using the double pyramid training technique marked a 2% greater increase in muscle mass at the end of the eight week period. There you have it. If you want to increase your size and strength, try Schwarzenegger’s pyramids. If you don’t trust the scientist, trust former Mr. Olympia.