11 Set and Rep Schemes for Massive Reverse Hyper Back Pumps

TAGS: exercises for back, reverse hyper variations, back pump, exercises for hamstrings, back strength, single leg reverse hyper, matt ladewski, reverse hypers

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Some things in training just can’t be skipped. The Reverse Hyper™ is one such thing. Despite the horrible back pumps that ruin any comfortable sitting position, I must mount this dreadful machine weekly. The benefits of the Reverse Hyper™ clearly outweigh being uncomfortable. The biggest problem I have with it is that I must use it twice a week nearly year-round. I really hate it but I can’t argue with the results.

As you might expect, having to do hypers twice a week nearly year-round gets boring very quickly. I have to keep things fresh by changing it up frequently. Rather than always following a vanilla standard set and rep scheme, we use many different and terrible ways to avoid boredom and really push up the volume.


RELATED: Whoa, Hamstrings


We utilize the short strap, long strap, roller, and single-leg versions. We even have a different setup for the handle to make it harder. The non-basic set and rep schemes listed below manipulate your volume and intensity. These will vary even further if you choose to do hamstring work before or after the hyper. Pick your poison carefully.

Vanilla (Basic Sets/Reps)

  • Five Sets of 25 Reps (Five x Dynamic Effort Squat Volume)
  • Style: Short, Long, or Roller (with Adjusted Weight)

For those just starting out on the hyper or those who need a baseline, this is where you start. A 600-pound squatter would have 7200 pounds of volume on their dynamic effort speed squats. This lifter would use 300 pounds, about half of their max squat for 125 (5 sets of 25 reps) total reps. This equates to a total of 37,500 pounds of volume. This is the basic vanilla set and rep scheme. This is done 50% of the time.

A Hard 12

  • 4-5 Work Sets, 12 Reps Per Set
  • Style: Any

Work up to a hard set of 12 using any style of hyper. Once you hit your hard set, do three to four more sets at that weight. This may end up being somewhere between six and eight total sets, but we are only counting the top sets. I use this with newer lifters who tend to gravitate to light weights because it is “hard.” When they are using 180 pounds and work up to over double that weight, it shows them that they can handle much more weight than they thought. For those newer to the hyper, start with the long strap when going heavy to learn to control the weight.

Single-Leg

  • Sets and Reps Vary
  • Style: Long or Short Strap

For this version, I prefer to use less swing and more of a flex/squeezing action. Because you are using one leg at a time you will have to do double the number of reps. This version is used less often than the others but it is good for a change when things get stale. Start with a few sets of 15 reps per leg then adjust from there.  Try both a swinging version and a very strict version.

One Minute in Hell

  • 1-4 Sets, Reps for Full Minute
  • Style: Any

This might be the worst version we do. It is both mentally and physically demanding. With reps you know when it will get hard; you can speed it up and get through that last few as you count down to being done. With timed sets, going faster is not going to help you. Time seems to go into slow motion and this will extend your normal sets much longer. Start with a lighter weight than normal. I have had some fighters do this for two minutes. Good luck with this one.

Big Drop Set

  • Sets and Reps Vary
  • Style: Any

Working heavy on the hyper is important but so are high reps. A big drop set will handle both. Work up to a heavy weight doing sets of 10-15 reps. Once you reach a very hard weight you are going to do four or more drops. Try 15 reps, drop some weight, 15 reps, drop some weight, 15 reps, and then 15 more. Find a way to get 60, 80 or 100 reps total between the drops. A 100-rep drop set is a real challenge. Drop a plate every 10 reps. This can take about five minutes to complete. This will bring massive amounts of blood to the area. This will test your mental toughness and make you want to quit. Turn on the seat warmers and prepare to get uncomfortable.

Pre- and Post-Workout

  • 12-15 Reps Pre, 20+ Reps Post
  • Style: Any

This can be combined with any other set/rep scheme I have listed here. I use this for two reasons.

First, Reverse Hypers™ are a great way to get loosened up and warm up your low back for a workout. Secondly, pre/post will help those of you who are not able to use heavy enough weight or attain enough volume at the end of your workout. This will raise the number of sets and allow for more total volume without putting you into the hurt locker quite as fast. As a warm-up keep the reps lower and weight about 50-75% of your normal work weight. When you do them again at the end of your workout push the weight and reps even higher. As your GPP goes up you will have no ill effects from the hypers before your workout.

Mechanical Drop Sets

  • 4-5 Sets of 10-25 Reps Per Strap
  • Style: Short and Long Strap

This is a great way to push up the reps/volume using multiple straps. Because we often do 25 reps per set on the basic version, I prefer sets of 15 or 20 per strap. The short strap will dictate the amount of weight being used. Do your reps with the short strap, switch to the long strap, and finish the remainder of the reps. As you get tired from the short strap the mechanical change will allow you to keep going.

The Race

  • Style: Any

You have one goal: beat your training partner. My training partner and I will choose a style and a weight. We race to get 100 reps in as few sets as possible. Do your reps, let your partner go, then get back on the hyper trying to give them as little rest as possible. Force yourself to get those five extra reps to make your training partner crumble. This is a great option for when you’re pressed for time.

The Song

  • Sets and Reps Vary
  • Style: Any

This is another great version if you're short on time or if you tend to rest too much during your workout. Start doing sets of 12-20, rest 15-20 seconds, and go again. Repeat this until the song is over. The reps might drop as you get tired but it is like one long extended set. This is the perfect finisher for the workouts when you are too tired to load a bunch of plates. Set a rep goal and push to reach it during the song.

Roller Leg Curl/Hyper Combo

  • 3-5 Sets, 10-20 Reps Each
  • Style: Roller

These are not just hypers but will give a one-two punch to the posterior chain. Since you will pre-fatigue the hamstrings, using a lighter weight for the hypers is not a problem. Do your leg curls then without dismounting go directly into the hypers. When you do the leg curls make sure the knee travels backward or stays put. Do not let them travel toward your head. Choose your weight based on the leg curls.

In this video, I do them in reverse order for even more variety.

Alternative Handle

Using the band handle makes doing the hypers extremely hard. You pull against the band and it gives. This makes it so you must flex your low back, abs, glutes and hamstrings much harder. Because of the stretch, you can’t pull yourself into the pad nearly as hard and that makes a world of difference.

Start with lighter weights and work up until you find something hard for sets of 15. Reduce the swing you might normally use. Flex up the weights. You will need to contract your abs much harder — you have been flexing your abs when doing hypers, right?

We use two different grips with the band handle. You can go in the center where the band has more give or outside between the two handles where the band stretches less. Try two sets of each for your next workout.

To set this up, take a long or short elitefts band and wrap it around the handles. I prefer an average band but smaller lifters might need a light band.

Years ago on elitefts, the question most commonly asked was what to do when you don’t have a Reverse Hyper™. My answer is to buy one or get access to one. You can get strong without one but there is no single exercise that can replace all the benefits with such simplicity. Without the hyper, my powerlifting career would have been done already. After knee surgery, my hyper volume has increased by 50% while overall squatting and deadlifting has gone down. It has allowed me to continue to do what I love. Real training is learned when you are injured and must find a way to get stronger. I personally believe the Reverse Hyper™ is just the right tool to help many people do that.

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