Are you bored doing the same number of sets and repetitions each workout?
Fitness is not a burden – it should make you stronger, fitter, happier, healthier and lastly, it should be fun!
Thus, it is important we always look out for new ways to challenge our muscles. This will not only keep your motivation high but also increase calorie and fat burning. Our body adapts quickly to any circumstance and if you do the same workout week after week, you will not get the same benefits as at the beginning.
Today, I would like to introduce Pyramid Training to build muscle. This style of training is featured in the third week of the “Gain Muscle not Fat” 4 weeks Challenge.
This challenge can be done whenever you like to, there is no time limit. In fact, me and a couple of others will restart this challenge. Let me know if you are interested in starting over as well. I will design new workouts, of course.
Pyramid Training to build muscle
Pyramid Training can be used for any style of training – weight training, high intensity training, conditioning. There are also several variations of pyramids you can use to switch it up. If you have never tried a pyramid before, I recommend you start with the basic version and then try the others. It will shock your body and you will be very sore the next day.
This is the most basic style of a Pyramid. Basically, you are starting with high repetitions and light weights and increase your weights as your repetitions decrease. An example of a Pyramid Up would look like this:
Set 1: 15 repetitions with 5kg Dumbbells
Set 2: 10 repetitions with 10 kg Dumbbells
Set 3: 8 repetitions with 12 kg Dumbbells
Set 4: 6 repetitions with 16kg Dumbbells
If you want, you can go on and further decrease repetitions and increase your weights.
The benefits of this style of training is that you gradually increase your weights. If you are a beginner, I recommend you use this style of training in nearly each of your workouts. It will protect your joints and make sure your muscles are properly warmed up when you reach those 6-8 repetitions. Far too often, people use heavy weights right at the beginning of their workouts and get injured. Especially if you have been sitting at a desk job, you need a longer warm up.
This is the exact opposite of the first version. I recommend you use this style of training at the end of your workouts, to burn out your muscles. It will increase time under tension, metabolic stress and tear muscle fibers, all important mechanism to build muscle and lose fat.
If you are looking to build muscle, the Pyramid Down, or also called Reverse Pyramid, is one of the best advanced techniques to tear muscle fibers.
An example would look like this:
Set 1-4 : 8 repetitions with 15kg Dumbbells
Burnout Pyramid Down:
1. 10 repetitions with 12kg Dumbbells
2. 12 repetitions with 10 kg Dumbbells
3. 15 repetitions with 8 kg Dumbbells
4. 20 repetitions with Bodyweight or 4-6 kg Dumbbells (at this point, you will have reached muscle fatigue).
This is the hardest variations of all but it is a great way to burn fat while building muscle. Your resting period will decrease and you will burn out your muscles very quickly. I recommend to use a full pyramid once or twice per week but not more than that. Your muscles need time to recover to grow and burn fat efficiently.
Basically, you start with high repetitions and decrease your repetitions as you increase your weight as much as you can lift safely, then reverse the pyramid by increasing the repetitions again.
An example looks like this:
Set 1: 20 repetitions with 5kg Dumbbells
Set 2: 15 repetitions with 8kg Dumbbells
Set 3: 12 repetitions with 10kg Dumbbells
Set 4: 10 repetitions with 12kg Dumbbells
Set 5: 8 repetitions with 14kg Dumbbells
Set 6: 10 repetitions with 12kg Dumbbells
Set 7: 12 repetitions with 10 kg Dumbbells
Set 8: 15-20 repetitions 5-8kg Dumbbells or bodyweight (you will be shaking at this point).
How to use Pyramid Training
You can use pyramid training just for one exercise, or you can apply this technique to an entire circuit, consisting of 3-4 exercises. Using the full pyramid structure, you could design an entire workout. This style of training is strength training and fat burning at the same time. You will complete a full workout in less time but burn more fat and calories then doing strength training alone, followed by cardio. Obviously, there is no need to add cardio after this.
Then, stretch for at least 5-10 Minutes and make sure to eat a good amount of protein and carbohyrates after your workout. In fact, I always recommend to eat the majority of your carbohydrates of the day post-workout. Your body will learn to use food as fuel this way and not store it as fat.
Curious to see workouts using this technique?
Have you tried Pyramid Training before? Let me know if you like this style of training. I might include it more in future challenges.
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Wish you all a wonderful start to the new week, stay strong and healthy!