Green bodybuilders keen to make an impression on other lifters in the fitness center swing and flap their arms as they walk towards the bench, load the bar with more weight than they can handle with correct form, and then give their spotter a better workout than they give themselves.
When you are at the fitness center you need to be concerned with laying good groundwork, and pyramid sets achieve this in two ways: they warm up the targeted muscle groups as well as the joints involved, and because proper form is essential, you not only call upon the targeted muscle but a host of supporting muscles as well.
Pyramid training is just like it sounds, you start off at the base and work your way to the top. This style of training is actually one of the safest.
Bench press example:
Set 1 – 135 x 12 reps
Set 2 – 150 x 10 reps
Set 3 – 165 x 8 reps
Set 4 – 180 x 6 reps
Set 5 – 195 x 4 reps
Set 6 – 210 x 2 reps
Pyramid exercises have been around a long time and are still the most popular way to train the bench press. The above example is just one of the numerous ways a pyramid workout can be designed, but the underlying principle of all pyramid workouts must remain the same. Warm up with a light set, do increasingly heavier sub-maximal effort lead-in sets up to a 100% set, and if that goes well, add five pounds and try to create a new 1-rep max.
Pyramiding overloads the muscle effectively and works very well. This method is suggested for beginners, as it is very basic. That doesn't mean people who have been lifting for a while should not do pyramid sets – these sets are excellent in all routines.
The idea of pyramiding is that your muscles use more weight. The more weight you use the stronger you become, and the stronger you become the more weight you can use. Each week you need to increase the weight you use based on your ONE REP MAX for that exercise. It is VERY IMPORTANT that you use a spotter, and make sure that you are warmed up properly before trying to perform your ORM.
The pyramid principle can help someone unfamiliar with weight training to discover the equipment and weights they are comfortable with in order to continue to their next, personal level of weight training. This personal weight program will be a reflection of your own goals and lifting style. To create this program,
- Decide on a goal
- Set your weights and repetitions
- A building program will use high weights and low repetitions
- A toning program will use low weights and high repetitions
- Experiment with the program to be sure it is the right one for you and it targets your goals
The advantage of using pyramiding is that it gives you a detailed system to push you to work your muscles to true fatigue. The deeper you dig into your muscles, the better results you will see. Always remember that form comes before rep completion. Expect some muscle soreness – this is completely normal to a certain extent. While you are strength training you are causing micro-tears to your muscle and when it recovers, it is stronger.
Pyramid sets are not without their critics. The debate is not on whether or not they work: they do. The question is whether or not other types of sets are better for enhancing strength and growth. For now, pyramid sets are a time-tested and proven method of safely building mass and strength.
Power of the Reverse Pyramid
Conservative training techniques as old as the pharaohs at times need a little change. To comprehend Reverse Pyramid Training you first need a briefing on its mirror image, the Pyramid System, on which most conventional workouts are structured.
The Pyramid System doesn't let you to do a lot of exercises in each workout without the total number of sets getting absurd. The system also calls for lots of energy, which means that your training intensity will also suffer, since there's an inverse relationship between training volume and intensity. Not only does pyramid training involve more energy expenditure during the workout, but it also takes more energy after the workout, in terms of recuperative ability. Hence, pyramid training can lead to overtraining for many bodybuilders, because their bodies aren't able to recover from the workload.
Reverse pyramid training means turning around the conventional technique for building muscle. To get maximum results in the least amount of time you must:
- Cut down your training time to make it more efficient and fruitful
- Increase your understanding of recovery and performance nutrition, including supplementation
- Learn how to train hard, not long
Reverse pyramid training is both basic and specific to any level fitness enthusiast – the beginner, intermediate or advanced individual. The reason behind the reverse pyramid routine is the same as any other regimen: to gain as much lean weight or modify body composition in the least amount of time. Reverse pyramiding has been around a long time, for over 25 years.
You should not start your regimen with reverse pyramiding as you can get injured from not adequately warming up. However, you can incorporate it at any other time during your routine.