We’ve all been there. Training seems to be going nowhere and you feel like you need to change things up. Enter pyramid training.
Pyramid training is a great way to keep your workouts interesting as well as to help you push through any training plateaus you might be experiencing. It’s also a great way to help you bring structure to your workouts if you often walk into the gym unsure of how many sets or reps to do.
What is pyramid training?
Put simply, pyramid training is building up the amount of weight (or number of reps) you’re lifting per set for any given exercise. Usually, the amount of weight and number of reps will be related: when one is high, the other is low. You can do this in a few different ways.
Ascending: Start light, get heavy
Firstly, you can increase the weight with each set you do. For instance, if you’re doing squats, you can start your working sets relatively light and with each set, add more weight. This is called an Ascending Pyramid. If you’re doing pyramids this way, you’ll almost certainly need to be lowering your number of reps as the weight goes up.
If you’re wanting to build strength, ascending pyramids are a good way to do it. Pyramids are one of the basic ways strength athletes such as powerlifters structure their training, building up to one or two all-out sets of maximum power.
Descending: Start heavy, get light
Another variety of the pyramid is to do the reverse of the ascending pyramid, called a Descending or Reverse Pyramid. In this case, you would (after a good warm-up), pick your heaviest weight and do a few reps, then strip some weight off for your next set and so on until you’ve hit the number of sets
In this scenario, as you might expect, your rep numbers should be increasing as your weight decreases. This type of pyramid is a little more advanced, as you start with your heaviest sets first and you will likely hit muscular failure more often. This is ideal if you’re training for muscle size.
Triangle: Go up and back
The Triangle Pyramid is essentially a combination of the ascending and descending pyramid styles. The idea with the triangle is, you build up the weight to a point and then, when you’ve hit your target weight, you pyramid back down again by decreasing the weight. (You can also try this variety with building up reps and then decreasing them too.) This is very popular with bodybuilders, who are looking to reach muscular failure to spur new muscle growth.
Adjust your reps
Another way to pyramid is to increase (or decrease) your number of reps with each set. So in the squat example, you’d pick a good working weight, and a target rep number. Let’s say you start with 10 reps. In your next set, you might aim for 15. Keep adding sets until you can’t hit your target rep number anymore.
Benefits of pyramid training
Pyramid training is a great way to structure your workouts and make you feel that you’re getting something out of your training. They can be used for basically any exercise, from free weights to machines to even some body weight movements.
Pyramids also build volume in your workouts, which can help you gain muscle size as well as build muscular endurance. They are also very versatile and can help you bring some variety to certain exercises in your workout plan.
Why not give pyramid training a try next time you come in to Hammer’s Gym?