Pyramid Workouts can be extremely effective if you go through workouts lifting the same heavy weight for a fixed number of sets every week. Pyramid training basically has you pyramiding up in weight during your working sets while switching between certain rep ranges. Pyramiding your sets in such a way is a great way to add variety to your routine and bust through a plateau. Don’t mistake pyramid workouts being used purely to overcome weight training plateaus however, pyramid workouts can build valuable muscle mass to your frame as long as you continue to progressive in weight when possible and stick to a solid diet. To give you a quick idea of what pyramid workouts may look like, take a look at the below chest and tricep routine:
Flat Barbell Bench:
Reps x Weight -20 x Bar15 x 50lbs12 x 90lbs < Pyramid Set10 x 120lbs < Pyramid Set8 x 150lbs < Pyramid Set
Incline Dumbbell Bench:
Reps x Weight -12 x 25s < Pyramid Set10 x 35s < Pyramid Set8x 45s < Pyramid Set
Incline Dumbbell Flyes:
Reps x Weight -12 x 10s < Pyramid Set10 x 15s < Pyramid Set8 x 20s < Pyramid Set
One arm Overhead Tricep Dumbbell Extensions:
Reps x Weight -12 x 15s < Pyramid Set10 x 20s < Pyramid Set8 x 25s < Pyramid Set
Pyramid sets can be performed in any rep range you desire, popular rep ranges used are usually 5-8 or 8-12 but reps on a pyramid styled workout routine can vary. If attempting an 8-12 rep range then do not worry if you manage 3 sets of 12, 11 and 8 reps for example. They do not have to be lifted for a specific number of reps such as 12-10-8. Attempt to lift within your chosen rep range while pyramiding up in weight to make the program successful. Lifters often start their first pyramid set with higher reps and end up performing fewer reps for their final pyramid set. This can be as extreme as the lifter wants it to be. Take the bench press for example. An experienced lifter may pyramid up in weight like this:
12 x 135lbs
8 x 185lbs
6 x 225lbs
4 x 275lbs
1-2 x 315lbs
Pyramid Workouts – Main Principles
Here are the main principles of a pyramid workout that need to be followed to make this training routine effective:
Perform as many warm up sets as is required before attempting your first pyramid set.
After your first working set, you should always pyramid up in weight for however many working sets you plan on performing.
You should aim to reach muscular failure during your last working set. Other pyramid sets should be challenging but should not require you to reach failure. In general stop at least 2 reps short of failure if you have yet to reach your final pyramid set.
Choose adequate weights in which you can pyramid up comfortably within your desired rep range. Sometimes its hard to judge the amount of weight you should use for your pyramid sets. Remember that its always best to underestimate the weight than to overestimate them and blow any chances of linear progression you may make on this kind of routine. Rest between sets should be between 1-3 minutes. Rest between warm up sets are generally around 30 seconds or however long it takes you to reload the bar.
So that just about wraps up pyramid workouts. The idea behind pyramid workouts is to involve both high reps and low reps into your routine while constantly warming the muscles up to lift heavier loads. This is a great way to prevent injuries and get the blood flowing into the muscle. A combination of high reps and low reps can also help stimulate more muscle fibres and increase the potential of muscle growth. A number of professional bodybuilders use pyramid workouts to add size and strength to their frames. Give this routine a go once your current one becomes ineffective and you will enjoy the results and variation it brings to your training.