Pyramiding Training Technique To Increase Strength Gains

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Pyramiding is an old but good strength training technique and it requires you to know nothing about pyramids or Egypt to use it.

How To Do Pyramiding
Pyramiding is tapering of the weight (or intensity) of your workout, down or up. Or even up, and then down.

Let’s say you are doing a lat pull-down with 110 pounds. You would do 10 reps, move the weight up to 120 pounds and then do 6 reps, increase the weight to 125 pounds and do 4 reps, then back down to 120 pounds with 6 reps, and finally 110 pounds with 10 reps.

Increase the weight and decrease the reps (going up the pyramid), and then decrease the weight and increase the reps (going up the pyramid). On the most basic level, its pretty simple.

Tried and True
This is a method that has been used for many years to build muscle. The reason it’s still around is because it works.

A great twist on it is just going down the pyramid. Start at high weight and few repetitions, and then slowly decrease the weight and lower the number of repetitions you’re doing. This way, your muscles are always working at the very limit of their abilities and you are fatiguing them as much as possible. The key is to go all-out for each and every repetition on each and every set.

This is especially great for breaking through plateaus. Getting your muscles maximally fatigued in a new way is the perfect stimulus to get over than bump and start building your strength again.

Easy for Beginners with Machines & Bodyweight Exercises
Pyramiding is a great workout routine because it’s so easy to do. There are no elaborate calculations or subtle ideas. Just keep pushing the peak of your pyramid (the max weight that you work with) higher.

Also, this is especially easy to do with machines and bodyweight exercises. On machines, it’s much easier to shift the peg one slot down or up the weight stack which is contrasted with the loading and unloading you need to do with barbells.

Doing pyramiding push ups (for reps) is easy. 1 push up and 5 second rest, 2 push ups and 5 second rest, 3 push ups and 5 second rest, and so on, until you are completely fatigued.

Downsides of Pyramiding
Pyramiding needs to be targeted to build strength or endurance, but commonly it isn’t targeted at either. So you build a little of both, but don’t get the full level of results that you could.

If you start with low weights and get fatigued with 12 to 15 repetitions, you’re really working endurance more than strength. If you get fatigued doing high reps, you won’t have the energy left to work on increasing your strength.

If you want or need endurance, that’s great! But focus on whichever one you want which is either strength (4-6 reps), hypertrophy (7-12 reps), or endurance (13-15+ reps) for you to get the results you want.

So, Is Pyramiding Right For You?
Maybe. Better than speculating, try it out and see. It’s an oldie and a goodie. You can do pyramiding with machines, your bodyweight, barbells and dumbbells, and any other piece of exercise equipment. If you need to try something new or want to break through a plateau, put it to the test!

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About Author

Aaron McCloud

Aaron McCloud has had a longstanding interest in exercise and fitness. When he was 13, he started practicing martial arts (Japanese swordsmanship and Aikido), which then grew into a passion for strength training and exercise in high school and college. See my profile page for more information!

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