Three Day Split RPT Routine

Martin Berkhan RPT

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

This article tells you how to train when the time comes to split your training into a three day split. The primary focus is reverse pyramid training, but I have also included advice for other set-rep patterns (5×5 for example) to be used with a three day split, as this is what I find myself using more and more often with clients rather than RPT nowadays.

The Common Ways Athletes Split Their Training

There will come a point in your training career where you will need to split up the compound training movements in order to be able to recover in time for the next workout and keep progressing. (We talked about why this in more detail in the article on appropriate training program choice so we won’t dig into that here.)

Common training split examples:

  • Push/pull – Splitting your training by categorising the movements broadly as pull or push movements. (Example: chest, shoulders and squatting done on day 1, rows, deadlift variations and any hip hinge exercises on day 2.)
  • Upper/lower – Splitting your training based by categorising movements based on whether they target the upper or lower body. (Most commonly done four days a week, as with the push/pull example.)
  • Bodypart – Splitting your training by the main body part that is worked. (Example: chest on a Monday, back Tuesday, shoulders wedneday, etc.)
  • Compound movement – Separating your training days by the compound movement that you do. (Example: Monday as your squat day, Wednesday as your bench day, Friday as your Squat day.)

The three day split I introduce in this article is an example of the latter type of training. It can be used with any set-rep pattern, but the one I mainly talk about in this article is Reverse Pyramid Training.

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 (the squat, deadlift, bench press, etc.).

It’s a very time-efficient training style, but it requires very high intensity. It was made popular by Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com who you can see picture above.

Who is it for?

Very high intensity is required to get the desired training effect from the, usually, abbreviated routines. It is not suited to novices who are at greater risk of their form breaking down when pushing close to failure. A straight-set routine (where the weight is kept consistent across all sets) like 5×5 will me much more suitable and effective for these people. If this is you, my suggested routine is The Big 3 Routine or one of it’s variants.

When can it be used?

It can be effective in either a cut or a bulk. The low volume makes it more suited to a cut. The theory on that is as follows:

The goal of the experienced trainee when cutting is merely to maintain muscle mass while they are burning the fat off. -> Under calorie deficit circumstances recovery capacity is lower. -> Training volume is best reduced to match the reduction in recovery capacity. This helps avoid the negative systemic stress effects of too high a workload, which prevents you from experiencing undue soreness and regressing in your training. Yes, I’m talking about getting weaker and potentially losing muscle.

Unnecessary accessory work is therefore not used/removed.


RPT How-To Guide

RPT 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.
  3. Drop the weight, rest and do the second working set.
  4. Drop the weight, rest and do the third working set.
  5. Rest and move onto the next exercise.
  6. Push HARD. Do as many reps as you can without reaching failure.

‘Failure’ is defined as the point at which a rep can no longer be completed with good form. You never want to go to form failure with the compound movements because that is where injuries happen, though occasionally it may happen without your planning. – That is what the safety pins (or a spotter if you have one) are for when squatting and benching, or the bumper plates and padding on the floor for, when deadlifting.

What Does it Look Like?

RPT is a set-rep pattern, not any specific workout. However, RPT does have popular routine incarnations. One such incarnation is this three day split.

Example 3-day RPT 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 With RPT

RPT uses a double progression system. So that means the target is to increase either the weight or reps, if you can, at each session. There are rules for doing so.

  • For the first workout you likely need to guess at how heavy you should load the bar so that your maximum effort is within the target rep range.
  • Let’s say that this week you get 7 reps with 100kg and your target rep range was 6-8 reps. 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 at any point in time, reduce the weight.
  • For your second and third sets, your target rep rage will be a couple of reps higher. Because of this, and the cumulative fatigue of the previous set(s) you will need to reduce the weight on the bar. 10-15% is a ballpark figure for this.
Example RPT Progression

Target rep ranges 6-8, 8-10, 10-12:

  • Week 1: 150 x 6, 135 x 9, 120 x 12 – increase weight of 3rd set next session
  • Week 2: 150 x 8, 135 x 10, 125 x 10 – increase weight of 1st and 2nd sets next session
  • Week 3: 155 x 6, 140 x 8, 125 x 11
  • Week 4: 155 x 6, 140 x 10, 125 x 11 – increase weight of 3rd set next session
  • Week 5: 155 x 8, 145 x 8, 125 x 12 – increase weight of 1st and 2nd sets next session
  • 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.

Tips

Adjust all sets independently of each other. The ~10-15% reduction that I’ve suggested is just a guide for your first workout. (If you need to reduce it more or less that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong!) From that point onward you want to adjust your subsequent sets independently as you would for that top set.

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

For the chin-ups, 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, as is jumping up and holding yourself in the top position and fighting gravity until it takes you down for as long as you can. – This way you will train both ends of the rep range. Eventually you’ll want to add weight. See my Full Guide To Progressing Your Chin-ups.


The Pros and Cons of RPT Training

What I Like About RPT

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

The Drawbacks of RPT

  • It is not sustainable and will eventually cease to provide enough training stress to drive progression. Training close to failure at very high intensity is bad for recovery. This means that the workouts can only be performed with a low frequency. Volume is also low, as it’s not possible to train to failure for a high amount of volume. As volume is one of the key drivers of progress, eventually RPT will cease being effective.
  • Not suited to the beginner. Training too close to failure is bad for proper motor learning. Form needs to be very good to avoid injury when pushing close to technical failure for rep-maxes.
  • Your ‘maximum‘ is highly influenced your gym atmosphere/surroundings. One of my best squat workouts ever was with six time Mr Olympia Dorian Yates sitting on the leg press machine six feet behind me, staring at me, waiting for his rack to become available. Maximum is relative and variable, and it’s too easy for people to pussy out before they truly can’t do any more reps. Think about it this way – if I put a gun to your loved one’s head, you could probably do a couple more, right?
  • 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 work better. And I find myself recommending these more and more, regardless of the level of trainee.

A Better Way To Do A 3-Day Split?

Due to the drawbacks mentioned above I most often find myself using a fixed set-rep pattern without the use of failure instead of RPT with clients. As the cumulative fatigue will be lower, additional exercises can be added to each day and have been in the example below.

Example 3-day Split Using 5×5 and 3×8 Set-rep patterns

Monday

1. Deadlift

  • Warm-up sets
  • 5 sets of 5 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • 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)
  • 5 sets of 5 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • 3mins rest (or however long it takes you to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)

3. Additional compound movement (Example: Front squats 3×8)

  • Warm-up set(s)
  • 3 sets of 8 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

Wednesday

1. Bench

  • Warm-up sets
  • 5 sets of 5 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • 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.

3. Additional compound movement (Example: Seated Cable Rows 3×8)

  • Warm-up set(s)
  • 3 sets of 8 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

 Friday

1. Squat

  • Warm-up sets
  • 5 sets of 5 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • 3mins rest (or however long it takes you to warm-up and be ready for the next exercise)

2. Overhead Press

  • Warm-up sets
  • 5 sets of 5 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

3. Additional compound movement (Example: Romanian Deadlifts 3×8)

  • Warm-up set(s)
  • 3 sets of 8 reps – 2mins rest between sets
  • Cool-down: 5-10mins cardio, foam rolling, stretch out any tight places.

See here for a progression example for 5×5

.


RPT-Specific FAQ

Do I have to stick to those exercises above?

No, that is just an example. Front Squats, Rack Pulls, Pull-ups, Row variations. Basically, multi-joint/compound exercises that lend themselves well to incremental loading are all fine.

Can I add in more exercises?

If it helps you progress quicker. If you’ve come to this page from a google search or forum recommendation, I’d highly recommend that you read my article, The Core Principles of Effective Training, so that you have the background knowledge to know when adjustments are appropriate.

What is a good warm-up?

You 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 in the section, WARM-UP: What should I do?

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 their efforts (or lack of) are more public.

Is the omission of dips from Martin Berkhan’s original template purposeful?

Yes. Dips are a great chest and tricep developer, and it feels awesome to have a couple of plates clanging between your legs as you knock out a few  sets of 8, but the risk-reward ratio is skewed in the wrong direction I feel. What I mean is, it’s very easy to cause yourself an injury with this exercise, especially as you start adding a lot of weight. (It puts the humeral head in a position far past neutral).

When there are safer alternatives that are equally effective (pushups, the close-grip bench press), I see no point in taking the risk with dips. I no longer do them myself, and I no longer recommend them to clients.

Got any lifting videos/resources?

Yes, recommendations are covered made in my article, The Core Principles of Effective Training.

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. It’s not suitable for all people, at all times. Though different coaches have their own preferences and reasoning, the principles of effective training routines remain the same.

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

 Great question, this is covered in the article, Which Routine Is For Me?

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

That’s what I specialise in and do professionally, and you’ll find everything you need to do this on this site. This includes, How to Calculate Your Calories, Macros, Optimal Meal Timing, Calorie & Carb Cycling, Supplements (which I’m not a fan of), and How to Track your Progress.  The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet 


*******

Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always. – Andy.

Next: What To Do When You’re Done With Your Linear Progression Strength Training Program →

About the Author

Andy Morgan

I'm an online nutritional coach and trainer. After seeing one too many people get ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled, two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard, riding a motorbike, or staring at watches I can't afford.

905 Comments on “Three Day Split RPT Routine”

  1. Hi, for 5×5 you recommended, if I could only do 3 sets of deadlift at 180kg for example, do I drop the weight for the last two sets as long as I can achieve 5 reps?

    1. For novices I’d suggest waiting till they can get all 5 sets with the same weight before increasing. So, were you a novice, I’d suggest dropping the weight down. However, given how heavy you’re lifting that is a better progression pattern.

  2. Great information here Andy! It’s great to see simplistic and relevant training advise. There’s so much crap on the internet. I wish there was more people like you, Greg Nuckols and Helms around ten years ago.

    A lot of coaches reduce Deadlift volume relative to other exercises. I see you program it the same as others at 5×5. Whats your reasoning for this? and have you found your intermediate lifters able to recover from the volume/intensity? Furthermore, do you prescribe deloads?

    Also, to you generally reduce volume from the 5×5 down to say 3×5 on a cut?

    1. Jay, thanks for the comment and questions.
      1. This is a minimalist training template, talking about Martin Berkhan’s style of RPT. It’s not that the deadlift volume is high, it’s that everything is low volume, high intensity.
      2. I very rarely program like this.
      3. Absolutely. Every 4 weeks for intermediate lifters is a good guideline.

      Consider checking out our training book as my latest thoughts on training programing are there, these articles need an update, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  3. Hi, I wanted to know if I were to follow the sample RPT guide you have provided above, is it sufficient to cover all the cores of my body? Also, what if I want to exercise in between days on some other parts of my body that is not covered, for example: traps, biceps, triceps, or abs? Thank you, this guide has been really helpful.

  4. Hey Andy, you’ve got a great collection of articles here. I understand you have begun to recommend 5×5 training over RPT to your clients. How would you direct those clients who cannot linearly progress on a 5×5? Would you direct them back to an RPT? I ask because I find myself barely able to reach 5 sets of 5 reps of the same weight for well over 6 months now. Any more weight, and I’m lucky to get 3 sets of 5 before total failure. What’s your perspective?

  5. Hi Andy,

    What are the pros and cons for somebody skipping the Big 3 routine, Big 3 modified, and a A/B routine and just starting off with the “5×5, 3 day split routine” that you’ve outlined at the end of this article and sticking to this routine until he is advanced?

    I would guess one of the cons is that strength would take longer to develop with the lower volume. If this is true, do you know how much longer?

    For me, I feel like with less volume, there’s less time required to be at the gym, and I dread working out less and thus greater adherence.

    Thanks,
    Gordon

    1. Hi Gordon.
      Volume is the key driver of progress over the long run, and needs to go up over one’s training career. The routine with less volume will cease working sooner than the one with less.

      An inappropriately high volume setting for your training can hamper growth in the short term, and it is possible, but few people truly do that. If you can go with the higher volume routine, recover and progress, do that.

      1. Thanks for the answer.

        What I don’t understand is that we’re moving towards lower volume since recovery capacity is the bottleneck. ‘Big 3’ Routine > ‘Big 3’ Modified > The A/B split > Three Day Split

        But you say volume needs to go up over one’s training career.

        How do these two concepts work together?

  6. Hi Andy,

    thanks for the awesome article. If we start off reducing the weight by approx. 10% between sets (RPT-style) and then apply independent set loading (i.e. treating each set independently when upping the weight) it seems like the weight reduction between sets might become significantly lower than 10% over time. It seems to me like that would undermine the RPT principle in the long run. Maybe you can help clear up my confusion… Thanks!

  7. hello Andy,

    thank you for your valuable information I do spend a lot of time reading and learning from you here..
    I have a question if you don’t mind it ..

    I used to train with a lot of volume (bro split 5-6 exercises per muscle group 3-4 sets 4-5 times a week) i had good results until last year and a half..

    as I have a lot of work stress (a lot of deadlines and brainstorming sessions + sometimes working more than 9 hrs a day) my gains stopped and started to gain more fat than muscles even though i reduced my cal intake ..

    i reduced my volume to have two of the major lifts 3 times a week and 2 days as full body workout .. started to see gains again..

    my question will moving to a workout like the 3 days split RPT with two exercises per workout as starting point affect muscle gain negatively or positively ..
    do you suggest i start with something like what you’ve illustrated above and see hoe it goes ..

    my goal to start losing fat as in the last year and half i went from 10% BF to 20% BF

    what do you think?

    thank you

      1. thank you for your answer..

        I read that article while ago and yet can’t analyse my level of stress/load from it and where to start

        let’s say.. i need more volume that the basic workout above..
        If i am going to add another chest exercise for example to increase the vol little bit .. shall I add it in the bench day? or keep it in one of the two other days ?

        how long shall i wait to see if it working or i need more vol..

        thank you

        1. 1. You could do either of those, though I’d try adding it to one of the other two days first.
          2. Here’s my decision tree:

          – Recovering and progressing? > Keep things as they are.
          – Recovering but not progressing? > Add more volume.
          – Not recovering not progressing? > Reduce volume.

          Where and how the volume is placed is both simple (anywhere as long as it works) and complicated. Consider checking out my book or the free videos by co-author Eric. http://muscleandstrengthpyramids.com

  8. Hi Andy , im having a a difficult time understanding this. ok when exactly do you train to failure ? if im not mistaken so the whole workout for one day is 2 exercises , 3 sets on the first exercise- and then the 2nd exercise is 2 sets? am i understanding it wrong ? if so how is it intense,my work
    out will prb be 45 mix max.

  9. Hi Andy, You are doing an amazing job here. Thanks for the knowledge you are offering us.
    I initially followed stronglifts 5*5 during cutting phase .I lost around 18.7 lbs. I weigh around 126 lbs at a height of 171 cms.
    Now I am trying to bulk.
    Lately switched to the split:
    A – squat, bench, rows
    B – deadlift, shoulder press , barbell curls , power cleans.
    Started rpt style with reps count 4,6 & 8 . only three sets with decreasing weight load every set seems to be less mentally taxing.
    Exceptions –
    For deadlift , 1*5 & For power clean – 5*3, as instructed by rippletoe.
    Also , I do neck exercise with weight and forearm extensor exercise once in a week , as I could see these muscles are underdeveloped in proportion to other parts for most people in any forum.

    Is my rep count OK.
    Is the exercise pattern , including the accessories I have mentioned , OK . ? Fuckarounditis
    Can I increase my fat percentage to 40 % of my diet to avoid bloated face due to increased carbs intake.
    And finally, my right knee caves inward during rising portion of squat. I don’t find a right solution. Can you help me.

  10. Hey Andy,

    What do you think of doing the RPT methodology with a 2-day split? I’m starting to do Muay Thai 4 days a week, and I can’t go to the gym as often as I used to. I know I can always make it 2 days a week, but not always 3-4 as I used to.

    Day A:
    1. Squat
    2. Bench
    3. Weighted Chin Ups

    Day B:
    1. Deadlift
    2. Press
    3. Weighted Pull Ups

    This is really just my 6 favourite exercises split into two days. I do a lot of push ups at Muay Thai, so I don’t really need to do them at the gym, and I’ve always felt more growth going on in chinups/pullups than in rows.

  11. Hi! I just finished reading your set -up guide that you graciously provided for free! Thank you! My question is that I have noticed that when I use whey protein it tends to slow down my weight loss, have you ever heard anything like that? I have never found anything to support that when I look, but, it seems to be the case for me. Do you think I’m making connections that don’t exist? (I’m a woman who trains 3-4x a week. I’m 5′ 8″ and 138lbs)
    Thanks so much for your time.

    1. If you added in protein without reducing your other food intake, your calorie intake will be higher and that will slow down the fat loss.
      If you adjusted for the additional protein intake and reduced fats or carbs by an equal calorie amount then you are indeed imagining it.

  12. Hey Andy,
    Just curious about when your training and nutrition books are going to come out.
    I think I saw somewhere you were shooting for them to be released by the end of the year, is that still possible?
    Thanks

  13. When you do the 10% drops, are they from the top set? Ie 100lbs top, second set would be 90lbs, and third set 80lbs.

  14. Hi Andy,

    Firstly, i’ve followed your’s and Martins principles for many years, and cannot tell you how much it has changed me, and the the way i teach, so thank you for all your continuous effort.

    I have always had amazing progress with Leangains, however i am a full time fashion model, and have often struggled with being too big to fit clothes.
    This being said, i am still required to maintain a high level of aesthetics, so to put it simply, no bigger than a 40” chest and cut like Edward scissor hands.

    I love to be strong, and enjoy lifting heavy, so i have always stuck with the 3 day split, almost exactly as you have it written, with a couple of added exercises, and some low intensity cardio in there.
    I haven’t bulked since i played pro rugby, and often do cuts of around 6 weeks, if leading up to a big job.

    My question to you is, if size is a problem, how would you suggest going about my training/nutrition, whilst staying in IF?

    Many thanks,
    Franky

    1. Franky, thanks for the question. If you are too big and struggle to fit in the clothes you need, the answer generally is to lose fat. Most people simply underestimate the amount of fat they carry, and so shredding down is the answer (and also a humbling experience).

      You’re in a special position as your work demands that you look a certain way. If you’ve already shred down and are still too jacked to fit into the clothes you need to model, and aren’t at the level where you have them tailored for you, then you’re going to have to lose some muscle.

      Reduce your calorie intake and training volume slightly. – This is not about any one particular diet or training style.

  15. Andy,

    I love your site! Very thoughtful and well presented it has helped me and my students immensely. My problem is I have about 30-40 minutes each day to get to the gym here at the school where I teach. It allows me enough time to change clothes, stretch, 3 warm up sets and 5X5 for my first exercise but often the second exercise is rushed or I simply run out of time before I need to get to my afterschool obligations.

    Would it be alright to split my training so that I only do one exercise 5X5 each weekday? (i.e. Monday -bench, Tuesday- Chins, Wednesday- deadlift, Thursday- OHP, Friday – squats)

    1. Chris, thanks for the comment, glad to hear you’re finding the site helpful.

      In a sense, the weekly load performed is the most important thing. So if you break your training into pieces across the week, as long as you’re recovering then it won’t really matter. However, you probably just need to get your life a little more organised. The US president can find time to work out each day, I’m sure you can. The reason I mention this is that a lack of organisation in this area hints that there are likely going to be other holes or short-cuts made in your set up – good sleep, low stress, quality meals, etc. – which will undermine your results.
      Get yourself organised and reap the rewards – priorities will need to be made and things may need to be cut.

      1. Hello form Russia, Andy:) I’m an 21 years old guy, training for 1,5 year. I’m endomorph, now 78 kg weight and approximately 16-17% of body fat (2 top cubes of abs is visible, but there is fat lower). What type of diet can you reccomend? Body recomposition or cut? I’m using the 16/8 mode. And please, orient me about calories, because i think that 1percentage calculator give me more than i need (1700 rest day, 2300 training day). 180 centimeters is my height, 78 kg weight. Sorry for my English and thank you in advance. Alex.

    1. Also:
      – bringing the feet closer together,
      – raising your feet in the air,
      – one leg,
      – one arm*.

      Combinations are of course possible.

      *This is a very tough transition if attempted on the floor, so, you can perform them in a raised position (hand position higher than feet) by putting the barbell in a low position on the squat rack and performing them by gripping the barbell.

  16. Nice updates! On the “progressing from” training page you have cable rows as part of the split. Here you have just about the same thing, but push-ups instead of the rows. What’s the reasoning, which is better? Thanks!

    1. Hi Nathan.
      It can be either depending on the person, or both, really depends on what you need / what helps you the most. If in doubt, pick one and stick to it for four weeks and then assess how it went.

  17. Hi Andy,

    Dropping my comment/request here, I would love to see more in the way of bodyweight or light dumbbell workouts if you get time while you’re doing all of your updating to the site.

    We recently had a baby and due to time and daycare cost I’ve switched to the office gym over lunch. Place to do chins, and up to 50lb dumbbells.

    In the example routine you’ve already posted…would you do that same workout all 3 training days for the week?

    As always, thanks for your time and effort in this awesome resource (your entire site)

        1. Sure no worries Danny.
          – No, that’s just an example. Some people will be fine with it as it, but you’ll need to change it based on recovery and progression, as with any routine. I probably won’t be writing more detailed examples in the near future on this, sure there is plenty around the web. The principles you want to look out for remain the same though:

          The Core Principles of Effective Training

  18. Hi Andy , hope all is well… good stuff here… can you share any experiences from clients with switching from RPT to 5X5 , curious so see how rate of progress tracks , if at all any different. oddly enough I see a bit of decrease in mental stress using 5X5 after backing off the RPT like you mentioned in article…I figured it would be opposite..

    1. Hi Ed.
      “Can you share any experiences from clients with switching from RPT to 5X5..?”
      – Sure, any combination of the points listed above in the cons section tend to slip away. If I think someone might benefit from switching, then we’d try it, and see if it works better. Tough to be more specific. Make sense though?
      Oddly enough I see a bit of decrease in mental stress using 5X5 after backing off the RPT like you mentioned in article…I figured it would be opposite.
      – Overall set numbers are higher, but volume is around the same. You’re not pushing maxes, so recovery is easier, and it’s less mentally taxing also. So what you said makes perfect sense.

  19. I’ve been doing this split for about a year with great success (former happy client here :))

    However, I’ve injured my knee last month in such a way that I can no longer do squats below, let’s say, quarter the full movement without pain.

    Will there be any significant muscle imbalance problems if I adapt this RPT scheme to:

    A) Bench – incline db press / shoulder press (alternating)
    B) Deadlift – weighted chins

    3x/week (ABA-BAB) for the future to accomodate my fucked up knee? The only leg excercises I can do in the next few years are walking and cycling, so leg day is out… Is this variation to RPT fine?

    1. Patrick! Sorry to hear about the knee.
      Will there be any significant muscle imbalance problems if I…
      – I wouldn’t think so. Perhaps alternate the chins with some rowing variation.

  20. Hey Andy I have been going through your site for a while now. The amount of time and information you have put into this site is just amazing. I am very glad to have come across this site and I just wanted to thank you. Much respect.

  21. Hi Andy,

    Since switching to RPT, I have been ill twice and not recovering as well.

    Do you think it would be wise to switch back to 5×5?

    1. Hi Kierran!
      Have you not been recovering well because you have been ill twice? Or is that non related? If the latter then consider switching and see how you go. (I mention the former cause it’s easy to miss the obvious when it comes to assessing the right move for ourselves.)

      1. Hi Andy,

        It’s hard to tell but it seems too much of a coincidence that since I’ve switched to RPT I have been ill twice and a lot more tired.

        I also noted your point about stressing when going to the gym knowing you’ve got to really give it your all, I’ve been feeling that too.

        All in all, it seems to me that I would be wise to go back to my 5×5 A/B Split..?

  22. Hello,
    I’m 185cm and 77kg, trying to reach te 75kg before starting to clean bulk. I’m trying to lose my belly first for the summer.
    I’m following this routine now for a while for cutting and it goes quite well for losing weight while maintaining strength, except not able to reach the 10-12 range with chin-ups and dips, and not forcing myself at deadlift the first set as I feel it is a risky exercise.
    I’m eating 1g protien per pound of body-weight, low-carbs on rest-days and high-carbs on workout days. Vice versa for fat. My calories are 2000/2500 rest/workout-days. My goal is to lose 0.5kg per week.

    Besides the fat I feel like some muscle parts of my body are decreasing as well, for example chest. Should this be the cause of doing only compound exercises and not varying? I’m starting to think only two exercises is on the few side as I still feel like I haven’t done quite much during the workout while I’m pushing to the max on each set. Should I add more exercises on each day?

    For example,
    Monday: Deadlift and chin-ups. Adding seated cable rows, bent-over rows and biceps curls. Also switching every week between chin-ups and pull-ups for variety.
    Wednesday: Bench press and dips. Adding incline barbell press, dumbbell flies and cable triceps push-down. Switching between inclines and flies for variety.
    Friday: Squats and OHP. Adding calf raises and exercises for other parts of the shoulders, like the posterior and lateral.

    Should I do those extra exercises on reverse pyramid 3 sets as well? Or are those exercises too much?

    Also what I’m wondering, isn’t training a muscle group two times a week better than one? As is the case with a upper/lower routine. I’m looking forward to your reply.

    1. Hi Umoo. Your chest measurement is decreasing in size because you are (and have been) losing fat there as well. Take your right arm and reach round your left armpit to pinch the fat on your back – all of this will be burned off. My tracking guide will be helpful for you here:
      How To Track Your Progress When Dieting

      Regarding the training questions, have a read of this article where I talk about training principles:
      Training Effectively – Core Principles

  23. Hi Andy,

    I have recently switched to an RPT A/B Split. Is it possible if i comment with a few statistics you could advise if i am on the right track?

    Thanks, Kierran

    1. Hi Kierran. Are you in a calorie deficit and if so, are you progressing? – If yes to both then keep doing it.
      If there’s something more specific then please feel free to fire away.

      1. Hi Andy,

        Yes & Yes. Just wanted to make sure I was doing the right rep ranges and exercise for each day.

        Currently doing 4-6 reps top set, 6-8 reps and then 8-10 reps for the RPT for the compound lifts and 3 x 10 for dumbbell and pull downs etc…

        “A” – Deadlifts, OHP, Pull downs/Chin-ups

        “B” – Squats, Bench, Dumbbell-Rows.

        Sound about right?

  24. Hi Andy great article, I would like to know what activity level I should use for my macro and calories calculation using this routine,

    1. Hi Oscar. The activity level multiplier used for calorie calculations is a function of your overall activity for the week. So, if you’re just doing this, routine three days a week, then that would put you in the ~1.375x category. This is all covered in this guide:
      How To Set Up Your Diet: #1 Calories
      All good? Feel free to hit me up in the comments there if anything isn’t clear.

  25. Hey Andy, there’s an alternative setup for RPT. It’s posted on Anyman Fitness and states that 2 sets are superior to 3 per exercise. For example, bench press x 2, dips x 2, skulls x 2. He suggests adding an exercise and dropping the third set and that it should be more effective. Currently, I’m doing the setup posted here…it’s definitely been working. How do you feel about doing 2 sets instead of 3 sets per exercise? More effective? Or do you feel it’s a useless modification with no real benefits?

  26. How often do you recommend taking time off from the 3 day split RPT? Maybe 1 week off every 12 weeks? Also, I do single-leg leg presses instead of squats because of an old knee injury. I’m assuming the RPT set up for the leg press should be the same as squats explained in your example above?

    1. Hi Steve. Only when people feel they need it, or their stress/sleep/recovery factors, or lack of progress indicates they should. This is highly individual. I’d never arbitrarily recommend that people have a break every x weeks. Though I know full well why some programs will suggest it in this way – it’s because people simply don’t know when to give themselves a break.

  27. hey andy! how are you?
    I am a medical doctor by profession and have been following your blog in a while. (I was a fan of berkhan’s rpt and am still a follower of bojan).
    During the past few months ive done bojan’s program LIZA. Considering I was process-oriented then (I loved working out and wasnt after body recomp and thus, no diet regimen was followed), I could say the results were great! Then, as I moved to another clinic with busier sked, I did your diet suggestions and did RPT based on your program, this time with a stricter regimen in terms of weekly weight/rep progression. Again, i got great results!
    Now, i am still doing RPT with your diet suggestions (currently on aweek long break though). Soon,ill be going into another training program. At best I can work out for 1hour, 2x/week. More realistically though, I can workout once a week for an hour at most. What do you think is the best program for me? is it an RPT of DL, bench, and squat? is it a 5×5 of those exercises? Should my gym time be focused on other exercises? what do you think?
    Hope to hear from you. More power! Thanks!

    Ramon

    1. Hi Ramon, thanks for the question. Your work volume is going to be the primary driver (and limiter) of progress. We can only lift so much weight in one session. One session a week will only be enough to drive adaptations and progression in a novice, and may be enough to maintain adaptations in an advanced novice or intermediate. This will need to be a full body workout.
      Twice a week will be enough to drive adaptations in a novice and advanced novice, and probably enough to stop the regression of training adaptations in an intermediate trainee. More on this here:
      Stress: In The Gym, Out of The Gym, and How it Affects Your Program and Progress

      How you split the training with two training days depends on your recovery capacity – if you can do two full body sessions and still progress then do so. If you have to split things in order to recover then do it. From there adjust the variables (volume in terms of sets and reps) to see whether you get a better response. I’d forget about RPT for now and go with the straight set model as you will be able to get more volume in. More on the key principles here:
      Training Effectively – Core Principles

      1. Hi andy! Appreciate the reply. Then I guess I will be focusing on muscle/strength maintenance now more than size/strength progression/development. Alright. Thanks for this. Will continue visiting your website when I have time as your articles have been very helpful. Thanks!

  28. hey is it possible to do the rpt with fewer reps?
    I train mainly for strenght and I have very limited time during this times of the year so I want to keep workouts short.
    Maybe rpt with 4-6 6-8 8-10 will keep it a bit more powerlifting oriented?

  29. I’m at 229 in weight and I want to cut my fat. I have the typical belly nothing too big but enough to not go shirtless. I read your article and I’m just curious, what if I do 3 lift sessions a week and do a 6by 6 lift is that okay. I like lifting heavy. Also since cardio isn’t that important how do I warm up for a lift. Dumb question but I am curious. Your clients look great that’s my goal.

  30. Hi Andy,

    I feel I am ready now for a switch to RPT to keep progressing,

    Would you be able to offer advise as to whether you think i am based on what you have seen?

      1. Thanks Andy, i think i will stick with my A/B split for now then, and try it with the RPT pattern and see how that goes. Don’t think i’m ready for a full 3 day split yet after reading that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *