Pyramid training is one of the most recommended types of exercise when you are experiencing a plateau in your training sessions. No, it doesn’t require you to hike a pyramid even if it’s an adventure that will definitely challenge your workout routine. Learn more about what it is and how it’s done here.
Pyramid Training Defined
Pyramid training refers to a stepped approach wherein you change the number of reps you do for a variety of weights. For example, you can start with a light weight doing 12 reps and gradually increase the weight while reducing the number of reps you do.
The concept of pyramid training comes from the pyramid, hence the name. It follows the pyramidal structure in order to pattern how sets and reps are arranged during a workout routine. However, this kind of exercise is not just limited to a standard pyramid size. It can also be done using a reverse pyramid or a diamond pyramid.
Types of Pyramid Workouts
There are many kinds of pyramid structures that you can use for workouts. However, each kind gives a different benefit.
1. Standard Pyramid
The standard pyramid workout follows an increasing pattern. It starts with a lighter weight and then you gradually increase the heaviness while decreasing the reps that you take.
For example, you will carry 30 lbs in the first set and you lift these weights for 12 reps. For the next set, you increase the weights to 40 lbs but decrease the reps to 10 and so on.
This workout is the most common because people usually use the lighter weights as their warmup. It also helps condition their body towards the heaviest weight they will carry after a certain number of sets. Most of the time, the standard pyramid is recommended for beginners, but this does not necessarily make you bulky.
2. Reverse Pyramid
The reverse pyramid is the opposite of the standard pyramid structure. You start with the heaviest weight first with a few reps and then gradually decrease the weight and increase the reps. For example, your first set will be 50 lbs with 8 reps. The next set will then be 40 lbs with 10 reps.
Although the reverse pyramid sounds unconventional, it is known to be the best structure if you want to be able to build a lot of muscle. Since you’re starting out early with the heaviest weights, you still have the energy and strength that can push you to carry those heavy weights.
The reverse pyramid is ideal for those who want to bulk up and to push their muscles to the limit. This is because if you start out with light weights, you could already use up all the energy in your muscles that are best reserved for the heavier weights.
3. Diamond Pyramid
You can also mix both standard pyramid and reverse pyramid. This is called a diamond pyramid wherein you start with light weights and then increase weights. Once you’ve reached the heaviest weight you can carry, you then gradually decrease the weight again.
An example would be starting out with 30 lbs for 12 reps. You move on to 40 lbs for 10 reps and then go up to 50 lbs for 8 reps. After the 50 lbs, you then go back to 40 lbs for 10 reps and down to 30 lbs for 12 reps.
Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs
Even if some pyramid structures mentioned above allow you to do warm-ups during the heavy lifting, trainers still encourage people to do warm-ups at the start of their workout.
Warm-ups are essential in conditioning the muscles, bones, and joints before blasting a lot of energy afterward. Doing warm-ups also lessen the risk of getting injured.
The most common warm-ups are stretches and a few cardio moves. However, you can also use very light weights for your warm-up routine. Just make sure that it doesn’t start adding stress to your muscles.
Likewise, it is also highly recommended to do cool-downs. Cool-downs are done so you can gradually decrease the energy you use. It will also help return your heart rate and breathing back to normal. Without cooldowns, your body can ache and you could struggle with managing your