Posts Tagged ‘Muscle Building’

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!

What a week!  So I  finally had my contest this past weekend and it was a blast!  I ended with a 2nd place finish in the Pro FitBody division.  Of course I would have loved to take 1st, but I am very happy with my placement and I’m now onto the next phases of recovery and building.

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It’s pretty amazing the things you go through the final week of preparing for a contest.  There are the last minute workouts, keeping close tabs on water intake, small tweaks in the diet, hair appointments, tanning appointments, meetings, final suit adjustments, posing practice, and the list goes on.

What I was NOT prepared for this time around, was catching a nasty cold!  About a week and a half out, my youngest daughter came home from school sick.  Well, since mommy usually becomes the cuddle blanket and the “human tissue”  (and my immune system was clearly a bit compromised from the heavy training and diet)…voila!  I got really sick just about 1 week out.  I rested for a day or 2 and felt a bit better, but when my training resumed, things went downhill AND fast!  I had no energy, had trouble breathing and started coughing anytime I tried to do cardio, and felt like I had no strength whatsoever.  BUT, I did the best I could, rested when I could, and just powered through the last few days.

Things definitely didn’t go as planned that final week but thankfully, I was stage-ready early and just had to hang on to my conditioning.

Now what?

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Well, I am definitely enjoying some (I think well-deserved :-)) treats this week and doing a few low-intensity recovery workouts.  I will also be taking my Top Secret Nutrition Cleanse & Detox supplement this week to help push the “reset” button before starting my building phase next week.  I have the judges’ feedback fresh in hand and my new plan for the remainder of the fall and winter.  So, I will continue to post some of my workouts here on the blog so look for some fun, new, and super-intense training plans coming your way!