Anytime you can come across anything simple and effective, grab a hold of it. In bodybuilding and fitness, the objective is to find something simple in scheme, yet effective in results. With so many ways to go about training, there are a couple that seems to hold more validity than others.
Pyramid training is about as simple as it gets while also having a high level of effectiveness.
Pyramid training has been around for quite a while and can be utilized for almost any goal in mind, if it be building muscle, strength, or even fat loss. If you are a veteran in the gym or a newbie just starting out, pyramid training is a good fit for anybody.
How it works is simple, pick a movement, a weight, starting rep count, and then pick an ending rep count. After you finish your first set with your starting rep count, take a short break (1-2 minutes), then perform your next set, working your way down in reps.
For example, if you are training for strength, more than likely your starting rep count should be lower, maybe around 5. So, you must pick a weight that pushes you to that 5-rep count. From there you would work your way down in each set until you get to 1 rep, keeping the same weight the whole time.
We will use squats for an example:
Working weight = 405lbs
Starting rep count = 5
Ending rep count = 1
1st Set x 5 (405lbs)
2nd Set x4 (405lbs)
3rd Set x 3 (405lbs)
4th Set x 2 (405lbs)
5th Set x1 (405lbs)
Please note that when doing pyramid sets for strength that rest time in between sets should be a little longer (2-3 minutes) because of taxation on nervous system due to heavier weight.
If you are looking for size, everything is ran the same way but the rep counts move to a higher number.
Let’s use bench press for an example for someone training for size using a pyramid training method:
Working weight = 225lbs
Starting rep count = 12
Ending rep count = 8
1st Set x 12 reps (225lbs)
2nd Set x 11 reps (225lbs)
3rd Set x 10 reps (225lbs)
4th Set x 9 reps (225lbs)
5th Set x 8 reps (225lbs)
Remember, pick a working weight that allows you to get the desired starting rep range out. Since the weight is lighter, rest periods should be shorter (1 minute – 1 ½ minutes) in between sets.
Pyramid training is intense, but it works. So if you are trying to get a stronger squat and bench, or trying to build up your triceps, pyramid training can be the method you need to get where you want to be.