Why I Love Pyramids

Posted: January 29, 2014 in Fitness
Tags: , , , , ,

This week for me has been all about the pyramid.  I frequently change up my routines and rep schemes to maximize either strength, endurance, or power.  Enter, pyramids…with this classic workout scheme, you can get the best of “all” worlds.  Simply put, pyramids follow either an upward or downward scheme of reps, weight, or sets.  If you’re creative, there are an endless number of ways you can create your own pyramid.  The most popular variations are

  • Ascending:  This is where you increase the weight but decrease the reps with each successive set
  • Descending:  You decrease the weight but increase the reps with each successive set
  • “Triangle”:  This will include both ascending and descending

Here’s why I love it:  You can set up pyramids to include as few or as many sets as you want.  The higher reps can increase muscular endurance, the moderate reps/weight can focus on muscle hypertrophy, and the super low reps/heaviest weight can enhance your maximum strength and power.  These rep schemes are mere guidelines for their “intended purpose”…any resistance training you do will build muscle and time under tension is one of the greatest determinants.  Again, another reason to love pyramids.  If you do the triangle version, you can have as many as 7 +sets….increased volume = increased time under tension = gains!

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Here is an example of a higher volume pyramid set that you can do:

  • Set 1:  Light weight: 15 reps
  • Set 2:  Light/medium weight:  12 reps
  • Set 3:  Medium weight: 10 reps
  • Set 4:  Medium/heavy weight:  8 reps
  • Set 5:  Heaviest weight: 3-6 reps
  • Set 6:  Medium/heavy weight:  Aim for 8 reps
  • Set 7:  Medium weight:  Aim for 10 reps
  • Set 8:  Light/medium weight:  Aim for 12 reps
  • Set 9:  Light weight:  Aim for 15 reps

Notice for the descending portion, I wrote “Aim for” with the reps.  If you’re working intensely (as you should be!) during your workout, you may be fatigued and not quite able to complete all the reps with good form/safety.

And here is an example of a lower volume “Ascending” Pyramid set:

  • Set 1:  Light weight 12 reps
  • Set 2:  Medium weight:  10 reps
  • Set 3:  Heavy weight:  6-8 reps
  • Set 4:  Heaviest or attempting PR:  2-4 reps

So you see, the only limitation is your imagination.  If you’ve never tried pyramids before, add some to your next workout!

Comments
  1. Tammy says:

    Thanks for this Kris! I had been wondering how to do pyramids correctly! As always you are just amazing!!! :-). Roxanne1966

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