There is no shortage of training principles and on any given day in the gym, often they cross paths.
Those who throw up the maximum amount of weight for a minimal number of repetitions constantly debate against those who attempt to lift their own bodyweight for maximal repetitions. Since there is merit to both styles of training, by scientifically combining the benefits of each style, we can achieve maximum results. This compromise between volume training and maximal effort training results in the principles of pyramid training.
By incorporating the following methods, you are sure to discover the secrets behind building a larger-than-life physique.
Understanding the Basics
Pyramid training uses six working sets with a variety of repetition ranges that vary to accomplish a multitude of goals.
- First Set – Complete 15 repetitions of 20% less weight than your average 10 repetition set.
- Second Set – Complete 12 repetitions of 10% less weight than your average 10 repetition set.
- Third Set – Complete 10 repetitions at your normal 10 repetition set weight.
- Fourth Set – Use 10% more weight for 8 repetitions.
- Fifth Set – Use 20% more weight for 6 repetitions.
- Final Set – Use 30% more weight than your Third Set for 4 repetitions.
Sample Set of Pyramid Training
- Set #1 80 lb 15 repetitions
- Set #2 90 lb 12 repetitions
- Set #3 100 lb 10 repetitions
- Set #4 110 lb 8 repetitions
- Set #5 120 lb 6 repetitions
- Set #6 130 lb 4 repetitions
The Underlying Science
As you can see, there is a dramatic difference between the first set you complete and the final set you work through.
The first and second sets maintain repetition ranges that focus on endurance-style training. By accomplishing 12 to 15 repetitions, your body is put under an extended period of muscular tension. This tension results in the ability of your muscles to produce force for longer durations over a longer period of training. As you progress throughout the weeks, you will begin to complete more repetitions with weights you were only able to do for 8 to 10 repetitions.
As you continue through your pyramid, the third and fourth sets push your body towards greater hypertrophy. Hypertrophy refers to the point where your muscles are most likely to increase in overall muscular size. While you could lean towards only completing this repetition range, your body would have difficulty progressing to heavier weights. Focus on truly contracting your muscles as a means to move the weight through the entire exercise.
In the final two sets, you are pushing yourself to new parts of the weight racks. These final sets of 6 and 4 repetitions are where you will increase your overall power and strength in the gym. By continually working on your strength, your body will be able to move heavier weights in the future, resulting in greater gains in musculature.
Do not be afraid to ask for an experienced lifter or personal trainer to spot your lifting during these crucial sets. There is danger in every set that you move maximal amounts of weight for minimum repetitions. Trusted spotters can help you avoid unnecessary injuries that could prevent you from progressing in the gym.
Now it is your time to incorporate pyramid training methods into your weight training regimen and reap the rewards for your hard work in the gym.