Pyramid Training by

Posted by Krissy Moore
When it comes to improving muscular strength, endurance and overall cardiovascular health, there are NUMEROUS styles of workouts that will get you where you want to be. One of the biggest problems people have though is that they plateau.

Variety is the spice of life!

Not only will adding variety to your workouts keep them fresh, exciting and interesting, but they can also completely change the way you look. As I documented in my lastpost, there are TONS of  workouts you can do using both equipment and no equipment that will keep things interesting and keep you seeing results. Another style of workout I use frequently in my boot camp classes are pyramid style workouts. In order to keep seeing results in your workout routine, you need to challenge both your mind and body. If you keep using the same set of dumbbells day in and day out, and same rep set, you will get bored and will stop seeing improvements.
Pyramid training is highly effective, challenging and can be tons of fun! You’re not focusing on completing an exercise in a certain amount of time, but rather completing a certain amount of reps and recording how long it takes you to complete the circuit. You will therefore have a new rep scheme with tons of different exercises to choose from. It will be challenging. Because of this rep scheme, by the end your maximizing the total volume of reps, sets and weight (if you are using additional weights). You are also moving from one exercise to the next quickly, with little to no rest in between, so there is no need to then do additional cardiovascular  exercise.
Traditionally, when you hear of ‘pyramid training,’ you may think of how bodybuilders train. Taking a couple exercises, starting with a rep set and with each set decreasing the number of reps till you make it down to 1 rep, with the intention of fatiguing the muscle(s).  This type of training is also used in an upward or downward sequence in weight or reps. While I DO incorporate the heavy weights in pyramid training, bodyweight pyramid workouts are also just as effective. The KEY to bodyweight pyramid training is completing each exercise with SPOT ON FORM. DO NOT NEGLECT your form for the sake of reps or time. SLOW DOWN when you need to.  Once you have mastered your rep set of an exercise, then you can move on to the next. Second round same thing trying to keep your form just as perfect as that first repetition. Depending on the circuit, you may start off with 20 reps of an exercise, then 2nd round, 19 reps, 3rd round, 18 reps and so on. You can also decrease by 2 instead of 1. If you are a beginner, start with a lower set to begin with and work your way down to 5 reps.
Like I said, variety is the spice of life right? So if using JUST your bodyweight, challenge yourself and implement what is known as Progressive Bodyweight training into your pyramid circuits. With progressive bodyweight work, instead of ADDING weight (i.e. dumbbells, kettle bells, etc)., you are moving on to a more ADVANCED version of the exercise. For example, if you’re used to doing standard push ups and can bang out 20 reps with perfect form, no problem, then  progress to elevated push ups with your feet on a bench. Done this? Move your feet to an exercise ball. You can also widen out the hand placement to a weaker position and therefore making it more challenging. The choices are limitless. You will be challenging not only your body, but also your mind as well.
To give you an idea of how far you can go with bodyweight progression exercises, take a look at this. If you have never seen it, truly inspiring and motivating. Not to mention, it may give you a few more ideas in terms of progression with your exercises.

Talk about MOTIVATION!! I watch this many times to get inspired. Your body is a remarkable instrument. It’s amazing what it is capable of with the proper training.
Below, I have incorporated several pyramid workouts categorized as I did in my previous post. Record your time, then next time you complete the same circuit, try to beat that time you initially set. This will mean you are either increasing your speed throughout the reps or taking less breaks between sets. Either way, DO NOT NEGLECT FORM no matter what you do!


With these workouts, you can vary the speed basedbody weight crossfit runner
on your physical fitness level. Easy enough to do these on a treadmill. I usually do  most all
of my running outdoors though. If you don’t have a watch/
program that records your speed based on mileage,
then you can always start out at a comfortable pace,
then work your way up in speed.

A) 30 Minute Running Pyramid


B) 50 Minute Running Pyramid


Equipment Based Pyramid Workouts

With these type of pyramids, you can use dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls etc. You want to use a weight that is a bit lighter then you may usually use ONLY because of the high volume of reps you will be completing.  1aabullet_bamf With the box jumps, you can use bleachers, steps, or anything that is STABLE that adds some height. Please be mindful if you are NOT used to doing these. It’s very easy to underestimate how high a step/box is and trip and land on your face. With the pushups, try to do all on your toes. Drop to your knees only when your form starts to go downhill. Make sure you finish the designated number of reps for each exercise BEFORE you move on to the next exercise set. Make sure you are challenging yourself and resting ONLY when is truly needed during the round. Make sure you record your time! If you are doing this with a friend, encourage each other! It’s SO much fun when you have others who are in it with you! Once you are completely done, record the time it took you to complete it all and all the weight amounts you used.

 A) Total Body Pyramid Burnout


 B) Crossfit Burnout


(Note: If you are just starting out, don’t use weight on the jump squats and go to a standard push up instead of a spiderman push up and/or go to your knees. Again watch the height as well for the box jumps! You can also start at a lower rep to begin with. For instance, in my Total Body Burnout circuit, start with 25 jump squats instead of 40, maybe 15-20 Push ups instead of 30, and 10-15 Kettlebell Swings instead of 20.)

C) 500 Rep Workout

500 Rep CrossFitCrossfit workouts do a lot of this pyramid style work. This is a TOUGH one. Depending on your fitness level, it may take 25-30 minutes or longer. You can always CUT the rep total down and make it a 250 rep workout and build your way up. Don’t neglect form. For the pull ups, you can always use your equalizers if you don’t have a pull up bar and/or do TRX rows etc. For jump rope, you can always do high knees as well. With this one in particular, if you want, you can also start off doing 20 reps of everything, then decrease it to 15 reps, then 10, then 5. You will still have the 500 reps, but you may be able to get through it without failure a little better, especially while you are working on your muscular strength and endurance.


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