Everyone knows that regular weight training equals increased muscle mass and strength. However, certain types of training can produce slightly different results.
While some types of training can increase maximal strength, others can improve muscular endurance, and some can produce significant improvements in body composition.
By familiarising yourself with the various training methods, you will be able to make a well-informed decision about which method best suits your needs.
This article discusses pyramid training, if it’s effective, and tips on implementing this method into your routine!
What is Pyramid Training?
Pyramid training is a collection of sets of the same exercise, starting with lightweight and higher reps, then building up to a heavier weight and fewer reps. A full pyramid training set is an extension of this, reducing the weight upon reaching the peak until you complete the full pyramid.
Some methods of pyramid training only account for the upward sets, but in this article we will be referring to the full pyramid set: building up from lightweight and high reps to a maximal weight and low reps, then proceeding to reduce the weight and increase the reps on the way back down.
Here is an example of a pyramid set at an intermediate level:
Starting at roughly 60% of your one-rep max
- Set 1: 12 reps at 60%
- Set 2: 10 reps at 70%
- Set 3: 8 reps at 80% (the peak of the pyramid - heaviest set)
- Set 4: 10 reps at 70%
- Set 5: 12 reps of 60%, or to failure
What Are the Benefits of Pyramid Training?
Pyramid training is a time-efficient method of packing on muscle. The longer sets mean that your working muscle group is fatigued through the completion of a variety of sets and rep ranges, thus encouraging your muscles to adapt and grow.
The key part of pyramid training is minimal rest. This keeps muscles active and under tension, causing more micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which is just what you need to promote muscle protein synthesis, the process of repairing and rebuilding muscle.
Pyramid training is also a great method to incorporate into your training when you hit a plateau. This could be a good way to shock and stimulate your muscles with a new stimulus, promoting further growth and development.
Tips for a Successful Pyramid Training Program
Ensure your starting weight isn’t too heavy. This can result in early fatigue and a loss of form, which is quite the opposite of what you want to achieve.
Experiment with a starting weight of around 60% of your one-rep max for that lift and increase the weight for each set by increments that work best for you. For example, if you choose to do a 7 set pyramid, you may want to consider smaller increments.
Form is key! Ensure that you drop the weight if your form is compromised. This is a clear sign that the weight is too heavy for the rep range you’re aiming for.
If you have fuel left in the tank at the end of the pyramid, attempt to push to failure on your final set!
Always make sure you are progressing over time, whether by increasing the total volume, starting weight, increments, or reducing the rest intervals.
The Principles of Muscle Growth and Recovery
Pyramid training is an effective method of growing muscle mass and improving endurance. This method of training puts a lot of stress on your muscles and body as a whole.
So, it’s important to take into account your nutrition and recovery strategies to ensure you are recovering optimally and giving your muscles the best chance of repairing and growing.
Here are some of the key principles to consider:
- Consuming an adequate amount of calories to support your muscle growth goals
- Consuming an adequate amount of daily protein to support your muscle recovery and growth
- Considering your pre-and post-workout nutrition, eating a balanced meal with sufficient carbohydrates and protein before and after training
- Sleeping at least 7-8 hours per night for optimal recovery
- Drinking plenty of water and consuming plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole foods
If you’re struggling for motivation, hit a plateau, or simply want to try something different, have a go at pyramid training. This is an effective technique of incorporating many sets and rep ranges into one workout, focusing on a particular muscle group.
The benefits of pyramid training include increased muscle mass and improved muscular endurance, popular goals within the bodybuilding and fitness world!