How To Pyramid Train

In In The Gym, Magazine by RI Magazine

BY SARA-JANE McSHANE

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If your current fitness routine needs a jolt and you’ve hit a plateau, you might want to give pyramid training a try. Whether you want to burn fat or build muscle size and strength, pyramids are an effective way to further that goal.

Pyramid workouts are simple and relatively short duration, but intense; this makes them great for breaking through training plateaus when the effectiveness of your usual routine has diminished. The pyramid concept can be applied to any form of training; you can use your own bodyweight, incorporate dumbbells, train in a gym, or in the comfort of your own home. Pyramid training is a highly adaptable and effective training method that virtually anyone can use to improve their fitness level and mix up their routine.

So how exactly is pyramiding done? Simply put, pyramid training is performing one exercise or two, for a particular number of reps, say 10, and then working your way down to 1, with the goal of fatiguing the target muscles. Pyramiding can be employed as an upward or downward sequence in weight or reps; so you can choose whether you want to count up or down and start hard or finish hard, making this method of training extremely adaptable to anyone’s fitness level. You can also choose to rest or keep going after each pyramid level, depending on whether you want more or less intensity.

So, if you’re ready to take your training to the next level, turn the page to check out how to build your own pyramid workout.

During this workout, we will be descending only (starting with high reps and lowering as we go down) Take two exercise, let’s use bodyweight squats and pushups as an example for this pyramid, and 10 reps as a starting point:

BODYWEIGHT PYRAMID
Squat 10 reps
Pushup 9 reps
Squat 8 reps
Pushups 7 reps
Squat 6 reps
Pushups 5 reps
Squat 4 reps
Pushup 3 reps
Squat 2 reps
Pushup 1 rep

As stated above, you can pick any exercises you’d like, modify the reps, and set the rest length (if any) to your ability. This type of training can really push the pace and keep you motivated.

WEIGHTLIFTING PYRAMID
In this pyramid, we pair opposing muscle groups for balanced strength and development.
Chest Press 10 reps
Back Rows 9 reps
Chest Press 8 reps
Back Rows 7 reps
Continue until you reach one rep.

Incorporate rest in between exercises if you need to. After doing one pyramid, rest for 60 seconds and do one more starting with the opposite exercise if you are really looking for a challenge!

Try the following pairings, as well:

BICEPS & TRICEPS
EZ-bar Curls, Rope Pressdowns
Hammer Curls, Triceps Kickbacks
Barbell Curls, Skull Crushers

LEGS & SHOULDERS
Barbell Squat, Military Press
Walking Lunge, Upright Row
Squat Jump, Lateral Raise

CHEST & BACK
Incline Press, Lat Pressdown
Cable Flye, Single-arm Rows
Incline Press, Lat Pulldown

PYRAMID TRAINING TIPS
• Pyramids can be used for fat-loss, overall conditioning, and strength gain.
• For an easier pyramid start with a higher number and finish with a lower number of reps.
• Pyramids can be done with any type of equipment or your own body weight.
• There is an unlimited number of exercises and combinations.
• Pyramids can be done in the comfort of your own home, outdoors, or in a gym.
• Pyramids break fitness plateaus by challenging your body in a way it isn’t used to.
• Utilizing pyramids as an advanced training technique with no rest can provide an intense conditioning workout and burn fat fast with as little as 15 minutes 3x’s a week.
• Warm up before attempting ANY pyramid training. A proper warm-up means breaking a sweat during a whole body movement.

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