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Plateau Buster: The Pyramid Rep Scheme

Break through a bench press plateau with this tried and true technique.

The bench press is a staple in most men's exercise regimens, and even a point of pride when it comes to gloating about their max. But what happens when your gains come to a halt, or even worse, your strength decreases? We talked to personal trainer and owner of RomanFitnessSystems, John Romaniello, for a rep scheme method to freshen up any bench press numbers that are going stale.

Smart Pyramiding

SET ONE
True warm up. Light weight. 115-135 pounds. Eight repetitions.

What it does: The true warm up is exactly what it sounds like—it's to prepare the chest and supporting muscles for the workload it will endure. Properly warming up will not only increase blood flow and reduce the chances of injury, but also allow the body to begin releasing endorphins and hormones.

SET TWO
Working warm up. 75% of your heavier work sets (170 pounds). Eight repetitions.

What it does: The working warm up further prepares the muscles for an increased workload without bringing them to full exhaustion.

SET THREE
Heavy set (approximately 225 pounds). Five repetitions. This is your peak set.

What it does: The heavy set is the moment to challenge yourself and assess where you stand in terms of overall strength. The heavy set is performed to complete failure.

SET FOUR
Lighter set at higher reps (205 pounds). Eight repetitions.

What it does: The purpose of the lighter set is to maintain a working load with an increased number of repetitions for muscle size and strength. The lighter set is not to be performed to failure.

SET FIVE
Light burn out set. Use anywhere between 50 and 75% of your heavy work set (115-170 pounds). Complete 15 repetitions.

What it does: The purpose of the light burn out set is to engage more slow twitch muscle fibers as they will be placed under tension for a longer period of time. This set is to be performed to failure for maximum results.

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