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Trying to find the origins, benefits or disadvantages of this:

10 sets, starting with 10 reps in the first set decreasing down to 1 rep in the last set, 30s rest between sets.

I've heard this somewhere for pushups however I've recently seen someone follow it for weights also, including squats.

Any idea where this came from? What effect does it have on muscle building vs strength, presuming 10-20 reps is at or near your max reps for an exercise?

  • Piramid set...some people call it One rep maxing preparention. Also you can try weighted push ups with this. – Ekaen Apr 8 '18 at 14:09
  • @Ekaen: thanks, you sent me on the right path and I eventually found this stellar explanation: fitness.stackexchange.com/a/7148/13669 – Crescent Fresh Apr 9 '18 at 17:59
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    also known as Drop sets – mobcity zkore Apr 16 '18 at 0:22
  • @mobcityzkore: after reading, that seems more like what I'm talking about than pyramid sets. – Crescent Fresh Apr 16 '18 at 20:16
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    as @mobcityzkore wrote, it is dropset. However, the main thing which builds strength and your muscle size is progressive overload. Whatever scheme you use, aim for progressive overload in volume/frequency/intensity/volume load. – Michael C. May 26 '18 at 20:34
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As many people have mentioned in comments already - you are looking for a pyramid set, namely "increasing/decreasing rep range during different sets of one movement". It is not a hard definition, and people use that to apply to weights as well.

Dropsets is another similar strategy. In drop sets, you generally perform a heavy lift in a certain rep range (generally low), then quickly deload 10-20% of the weight, and perform a lift again. It continues until you are working with something super light.

The idea is probably nothing new and came from all over the world. Bodybuilders were definitely using pyramids and drop sets for ages. link

Pyramid training is often used to pass plateaus, when a trainee is unable to add more weight on traditional sets. It could add benefit to hypertrophy (size increase), because you stay longer under load, pump more blood into the muscle, etc.

Honestly, don't over stress about it. If you want to do those pyramid sets for fun - do them. But at the beginner level (and unless you participate in strength competitions - you are a beginner) you can progress with straight sets by simply adding more weight to your lifts, or more reps to your body weight movements. If you ever reach a point when you are unable to add more weight to your lifts, or add more reps to your body weight movements, assuming you are doing something really heavy, then pyramids or drop sets or other movement patters could be useful in your training.

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    Thanks! Helpful answer, all makes sense. The impetus for my question was: I own very little equipment so was hoping I could utilize pyramid sets with 30s rest between to increase my volume, seeing as I do not own the needed weights (yet) to add more weight to my lifts. – Crescent Fresh Jun 12 '18 at 21:12

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