Strength Training Pyramid

The strength training pyramid method is awesome! I love everything about it. Changes in repetitions, weights, and intensity will keep things fresh.

The pyramid method is always worth trying out. If you are a beginner to strength training, it may be best to start with the basic 3 sets of 12 reps for now, but don’t forget to add this gem to your tool box.

For those that are ready to bust through plateaus or kick it up a bit, the strength training pyramid method is all for you!

First things first- what the heck is the strength training pyramid method? Does it have to be done in Egypt? Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. I had to add that corny joke :)

The strength training pyramid means starting with a lighter weight and higher reps, then as you increase weight you decrease reps. Lets do an example using the chest press:

Set 1- 12 reps at 3 pounds

Set 2- 10 reps at 5 pounds

Set 3- 8 reps at 8 pounds

Set 4- 10 reps at 5 pounds

Set 5- 12 reps at 3 pounds

As you can see each set requires a different weight and a different amount of repetitions. I would rest for 30 seconds between each set. So your strength training pyramid program for the chest press would look like this:

Set 1- 12 reps at 3 pounds

30 SECOND REST PERIOD

Set 2- 10 reps at 5 pounds

30 SECOND REST PERIOD

Set 3- 8 reps at 8 pounds

30 SECOND REST PERIOD

Set 4- 10 reps at 5 pounds

30 SECOND REST PERIOD

Set 5- 12 reps at 3 pounds


MOVE ON TO THE NEXT MUSCLE GROUP AND EXERCISE

I cannot praise the strength training pyramid technique enough. Of all the strength training I have done, I always find most of my results come from the strength training pyramid method. Why?

One of the problems we tend to have is not lifting a heavy enough weight. We are so afraid to bulk up and look masculine. Let me put your fears to rest… you won’t! It is very difficult for women to get bulky for several reasons. One of the main reasons being that we simply do not produce enough testosterone.

Using the strength training pyramid allows us to exhaust the muscle fibers. It is imperative that muscle fibers are worked at different intensity levels. Too often we find ourselves doing the same old routine over and over and over and over again.

Boring! The strength training pyramid throws your typical routine out of the window and surprises your muscles. They won’t know what hit ‘em :)

The strength training pyramid also provides a warm-up. As a personal trainer I see way too many people skip this extremely important step. It hurts me to watch them come into the gym, walk over to the weights, and pick up a 20 pound dumbbell.

With the strength training pyramid method, your first set is automatically a light weight. It’s automatically your warm-up. Good stuff, huh?

Another perk of this method is the automatic set counter. How often have you been doing your 3 sets of 12 reps and forget if this is your 2nd or 3rd set? With the pyramid strength training style losing track of your set number is pretty hard to do.

Knowing when to increase the weight is easy. Let’s stay with the above example. We used a 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbell. Your intensity levels should look something like this- easy, kinda hard, and exhausting.

When you have been lifting a 3, 5, or 8 pound dumbbell for a while your intensity level will become- easy, easy, a little tough.

When your intensity is not exhausting your muscles, you should move up a weight. From a 3, 5, and 8…you would go to a 5, 8, and 10. So your new pyramid strength training routine looks like this:

  • Set 1- 12 reps at 5 pounds
  • 30 SECOND REST PERIOD
  • Set 2- 10 reps at 8 pounds
  • 30 SECOND REST PERIOD
  • Set 3- 8 reps at 10 pounds
  • 30 SECOND REST PERIOD
  • Set 4- 10 reps at 8 pounds
  • 30 SECOND REST PERIOD
  • Set 5- 12 reps at 5 pounds

MOVE ON TO THE NEXT MUSCLE GROUP AND EXERCISE

So why don’t more people do this? Why is it such a huge secret? It’s really not that big of a secret. In fact most experienced strength trainers are already doing this method because it gives major results.

I won’t endorse any names, but there is a pretty popular weight loss book on the market that charges close to $50 for a book and journal on the pyramid strength training method. You got the info for free. :)

Important Pyramid Strength Training Stuff To Remember

1- Just because I love this method, doesn’t mean you have to. There are so many styles and variations that I recommend doing what you enjoy the most. Pyramid strength training should be enjoyable for you.

2- It’s not quantity…it’s quality- I would rather see you do 12 repetitions at 3 pounds with perfect form than see you do 12 repetitions at 8 pounds with semi-perfect form. It’s all about quality exercises that exhaust your muscles.

3- Rest Days- One downside to pyramid strength training is that it can take a lot of time. Some people find it’s easier to work their upper body one day and their lower body the next.

Between doing 5 sets for each muscle group and a 30 second rest between those sets…well you get the picture. Here is a popular weekly schedule that many of my clients have used successfully:

Monday- Upper Body

Tuesday- Lower Body and Abs

Wednesday- Rest

Thursday-Upper Body

Friday- Lower Body and Abs

Saturday and Sunday Rest

All in all, I recommend trying the strength training pyramid style for a few weeks. Let yourself get used the new flow and give your body time to adjust.

Remember that results are yours to find. Only you can find strength training bliss. I personally think it’s easiest to find by using the strength training pyramid. No need to fly Egypt-Air ;)

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Comments

  1. Its the way to go, warmup, groove sets building sets finito

  2. Thank you for the great explanation of pyramids! I have never done these before, but I’m going to give it a try!

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  1. […] just as much as the next girl. I always do them on my knees and always feel weak. But by using the pyramid method I use for cardio and endurance in the pool and applying it to strength training we were all able […]

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