The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
    Gym Member Dereksolo's Avatar
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    Start heavy then pyramid down?

    Hey everyone, when I do my workouts I start off with the heaviest weights I can do first and then slow decrease the weight (pyramid down) as a move on in sets. I heard this is how the Russians train, which to me, makes common sense. The American way is to start off light and then pyramid up to your heaviest weights as you go through your sets, but this dosn't make sense to me. Shouldn't you do your heaviest weights first because you are "freshest" during the first set and can accomplish more with this weight during this time rather than saving the heavy weights for last when you will be more fatigued. I also heard that some people from around Swedin start off medium, light, then heavy or something like that.
    I like starting heavy and then pyramiding down; I won't change that because it works well for me and I train till failure as well. Anyways was just wondering what you people do.

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  3. #2
    Wannabebig New Member HahnB's Avatar
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    I usually light to go light first, especially if it's the first exerise I'm doing for that workout. I find that I can do my heavier weight more times if I do a medium set or two before I go heavy.
    My brother and I were brutal. I once chased him around the house with a spoon that I put on the burner. I burned that little pricks leg. -sharkall2003

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  4. #3
    Senior Member shootermcgavin7's Avatar
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    I will use drop sets on occasion to finish off a workout, but I certainly don't do them for every workout, every time.

  5. #4
    AM MMA Fighter crazedwombat's Avatar
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    unless you do a little cardio for warm up, if you start on fresh mucles and pushing heavy weight you can injure your muscle. studies have found that to start light and go heavier then back to light is the best way.

    for example:
    Bench:

    Set 1: 135
    Set 2: 185
    Set 3: 225
    Set 4: 225+
    Set 5: 205
    Set 6: 135 until failure

    This is based on an average builder, adjust to your own skill level
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  6. #5
    Senior Member geoffgarcia's Avatar
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    start off with the heaviest weights
    then slow decrease the weight as you move on in sets
    are you referring to something like this:
    set 1 = 10 reps @ 90-100% of your 10 rep max
    set 2 = 10 reps @ 5-10 pounds less
    set 3 = 10 reps @ 5-10 pounds less

    if thats the case I could be wrong, but I believe that from a muscle fiber hypertrophy standpoint this is not ideal.

    Its my understanding that you want to decrease reps and increase weight, something like this:
    set 1 = 10 reps @ 95% of your 10 rep max
    set 2 = 8 reps @ 105% of your 10 rep max (95% of your 8 rep max)
    set 3 = 6 reps @ 110% of your 10 rep max (95% of your 6 rep max)


    Quote Originally Posted by crazedwombat
    Set 1: 135
    Set 2: 185
    Set 3: 225
    Set 4: 225+
    Set 5: 205
    Set 6: 135 until failure
    to me this looks like sets 1&2 are warmup, then you have 3 working sets, and a cool down step. I think everyone advocates doing a warmup, I always just assume its a given...after sets 3+4 I dont see any benefit from set 5. Set 6 is just a cool down set to activate blood flow and possibly stem off lactic acid.
    I would only count this as a 2 or 3 set routine.
    Last edited by geoffgarcia; 09-09-2004 at 09:01 AM.

  7. #6
    always hungry
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    I try to mix up reps and weight,
    it just works for me.

    higher reps puts more emphasis on your tendons which need to be strengthened along with the main muscles.
    where as low reps and heavier weight is important for hypertrophy and strenght gains.

    i so i do 1 warm up set of 8 very light reps (50% weight)

    then for worksets

    8-10 reps medium
    6-8 heavier
    4-8 heavy

    sometimes 1 more set V heavy aiming for 4 reps.

    it makes it more interesting and lets me guage more accurately what im going to get out of my w/o.
    I can set the weight up for each set more accurately and avoid failure, or stopping on 5 reps of an 8 rep set.

    mentally it teaches u to climb with weight which is also a good thing.
    Last edited by Digitised; 09-09-2004 at 08:56 AM.

  8. #7
    AM MMA Fighter crazedwombat's Avatar
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    yea thats what i meant, just didnt type it all out...good job filling in the blanks...heheh
    HT: 6'3 / WT: 265lbs 16%BF

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  9. #8
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    no.. bad idea...

    youll be seeing alot less gains and the "heavy" your starting with probably wont be your max since you probably wont warm up, you look like your warming down.

    This will push your muscles but allow them to have more endurance, adaptation will go very slowly and you will probably hit a plateau.

    Your turning muscle building into an endurance session. Dont do that unless your cutting.

    Just my educated guesstimate....

    try it if you want, but all i have learned is this is THE worst idea...

    Hope it helps

    - Shad

  10. #9
    Strength & Protection Kiaran's Avatar
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    Hmmm, I've actually tried this both ways a few times. I've always come back to the ramping up:

    1 - warm up set (15+ reps 50% max)
    2 - 10+ reps more weight
    3 - 8+ reps more weight
    4 - 6+ reps more weight
    5 - 6+ reps same weight (optional)

    When starting heavy, I never lifted as much weight, muscles were not greased up and couldn't handle it. Tendons and sh*t seemed to be strained too this way. Mentally things sucked too because your mind becomes less excited throughout the exercise since the weight is dropping and you are saying "oh goody, this will be easier..." Just my experience...

  11. #10
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    I always start with my heaviest set first, and I've been making good gains for a long time

  12. #11
    Frank Zane-ification
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    Pyramid-ing from heavier weights to lower weights is one routine that Arnold Schwarzenegger liked to do. He would start at say 80 for bicep curls, would do those to failure, and then move down the rack of weights without stopping.

    One thing that I like to do on the bench press is have 2 spotters. I would pyramid up to my last set, and on that set I would go to failure and have the 2 spotters take weight off both sides and I do that to failure without stopping, and so on uintil I couldn't even do the bar without help. Those always give me the best pumps I can't do this one too often anymore, cuz I'm not in high school anymore in weight class...
    Last edited by EviscerationX; 09-09-2004 at 03:37 PM.
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  13. #12
    Formerly Nick Hatfield SW's Avatar
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    In this routine here's how it goes for bench (for me)

    1. 200
    2. 225 (3 sets) Easy as that.

    If I was doing 275 (which I will do when I switch programs)
    I would do
    1. 200
    2. 225
    3. 275 Never got hurt going up 50lbs, works for me.
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  14. #13
    Bodybuilding Mythbuster
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    Quote Originally Posted by EviscerationX
    Pyramid-ing from heavier weights to lower weights is one routine that Arnold Schwarzenegger liked to do. He would start at say 80 for bicep curls, would do those to failure, and then move down the rack of weights without stopping.

    One thing that I like to do on the bench press is have 2 spotters. I would pyramid up to my last set, and on that set I would go to failure and have the 2 spotters take weight off both sides and I do that to failure without stopping, and so on uintil I couldn't even do the bar without help. Those always give me the best pumps I can't do this one too often anymore, cuz I'm not in high school anymore in weight class...

    What you described Arnold doing was drop sets actually. Reverse pyramiding (where you go from heavy to light) is somewhat different. For one thing you rest between sets. For another you (usually) don't go to failure.

    I think that pyramids are superior to reverse pyramids in terms of safety if nothing else...but that's JIMO.

  15. #14
    Magically delicious Shane's Avatar
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    I wouldn't say pyramiding up was the way the Americans trained and pyramiding down was the way the Russians trained since that's way too much of an oversimplification. But in my experience, pyramiding down is generally better than pyramiding up provided you do a good warm-up. I don't usually use either method though.
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  16. #15
    Frank Zane-ification
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtremeAnabolic
    What you described Arnold doing was drop sets actually. Reverse pyramiding (where you go from heavy to light) is somewhat different. For one thing you rest between sets. For another you (usually) don't go to failure.

    I think that pyramids are superior to reverse pyramids in terms of safety if nothing else...but that's JIMO.
    Yeah...that's what I meant...I just couldn't think of it at the moment. It's also know as the "stripping method." Only do that on the last set though...
    "Hey skinny, I can see your ribs!" - Arnold Schwarzenegger

  17. #16
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    Reverse pyramids are a great way to train. Pushing your heaviest weight when you are fresh makes a great deal of sence to me. Just make sure that you do a few warm up sets before diving in to your working weights.

  18. #17
    Strength & Protection Kiaran's Avatar
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    Do whatever gets you results the best for you bodies

  19. #18
    AM MMA Fighter crazedwombat's Avatar
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    i find that if its a max night...which is often, i start low, pump out a lower medium then pump one hard and then go for hardest..

    Example:

    135 - x8 1 min rest
    225 - x8 1 min rest
    255 - x1 no rest
    285 - reach max
    185 - burn out
    HT: 6'3 / WT: 265lbs 16%BF

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  20. #19
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    That's how I've been doing it (pyramid down) for a while now. My chest routine is
    Bar: two sets
    90: 1 set
    135: 1 set
    then My heaviest
    190: 1 set
    180 : 1 set
    170: two sets, then two set of 70 db, and two sets of 60's
    Seems to be working ok.
    Last edited by Rygar; 09-11-2004 at 06:37 PM.

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