Training Systems

A Guide to Bodyweight Pyramid Workout Routine

Bodyweight pyramid workout is a training system that can add variety to your calisthenics routine or get past plateau. Calisthenics pyramid training is good for beginners as well as advanced trainees. We all know about the typical 4 sets of 8-12 reps for building muscle, yet after some time a change in the mainstream becomes necessary. Moreover, we can use pyramid training for fat loss.

What Is a Bodyweight Pyramid Workout?

Pyramid sets for hypertrophy is a stepwise procedure in utilizing sets and reps. A pyramid is wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. Subsequently, a reverse pyramid is narrow at the bottom and wide at the top. That’s the schema of a bodyweight pyramid workout routine.

Bodyweight pyramid workout and reverse pyramid bodyweight workout

Pyramid training is not dependent on the equipment. You can implement it with dumbbells, barbells, TRX bands, or your body weight. All training systems based on progressive overload follow the principle of creating metabolic stress to stimulate muscle growth. Even so, this training system is not the optimal option for enhancing strength.

Warm-up and Cool Down

Warming up is essential in any training plan including calisthenics. To make the most of the training session and prevent injuries always warm up. A warm-up can include light aerobics and stretches and can take 10-15 minutes. It improves blood circulation and ignites your metabolism.

Cooling down can reduce muscle soreness after the calisthenics pyramid training session and it helps with recovery. When you abruptly stop the exercise, blood vessels contract and waste products of the exercise like lactic acid remain there which makes it take longer for the body to get rid of them.

Always consider your training session like a curvy diagram that starts from a low level, then ascends, and finally descends. This pattern can illustrate your heart rate, rapid breathing in aerobics or intensity of training in anaerobic exercises.

Diagram of intensity in bodyweight pyramid workout

Ascending Bodyweight Pyramid Training

In pyramid training bodyweight exercise, each set increases the amount of pressure on the target muscle and decreases reps. In TRX pyramid workout exercises, we can adjust the pressure by positioning the body at different angles or making use of the supporting back leg and the concept of intelligent weight. An example of Bodyweight Pyramid sets:

  • Set 1 – ­­­­­12 reps
  • Set 2 – 8 reps
  • Set 3 – 6 reps

Calisthenics Pyramid Sets – First Set and Final Set

Since we don’t use weights in bodyweight pyramid workouts, adjust the pressure according to the maximum pressure that your target muscle can tolerate in each set. Nevertheless, don’t start your first set with a heavy weight.

Pyramid training involves all muscular features of strength, hypertrophy, and endurance. Starting with a heavy weight will result in inability to finish all sets or losing the proper form of the exercise.

Start your first set with approximately 60% of 1RM (maximum amount of weight you can lift at one rep without losing form) and increase it partially at each set. Especially, if you’re planning to do more than 5 sets, start your first bodyweight pyramid set with a lighter weight.

Once you notice that you are not consistent with the proper form, reduce the weight and continue to finish the set. In bodyweight pyramid workout improper form corresponds to ineffective exercise.

For the final set exhaust your muscle; if you can accomplish more reps than your plan, no need to restrict yourself to it.

Pyramid Sets vs. Straight Sets in Calisthenics Pyramid Workout

In bodyweight pyramid workout, you start with a light weight and perform many repetitions. Your first set is a warm up for the following sets. Next set, you increase the weight and reduce the repetitions. In straight sets, by contrast, you follow a fixed range of repetitions in each set, let’s say 8-12, and only increase the weight.

Reverse Pyramid Bodyweight Workout

In reverse pyramid sets with weights, you reduce the weight and increase the number of repetitions in each set. In reverse pyramid bodyweight workout, start with the heaviest weight and decrease the weight in each set. Modify the pressure on the target muscle based on the number of repetitions in each set.

Since you begin with the heaviest weight, It is important to warm up before a reverse pyramid training. A reverse pyramid bodyweight exercise can be like this:

  • Set 1 – 6 repetitions
  • Set 2 – 10 repetitions
  • Set 3 – 12 repetitions

What is the Difference Between Drop Sets and Reverse Pyramid?

In bodyweight drop set start with maximum resistance in the first segment and do it to muscle failure. Without rest reduce the amount of pressure and do another segment to failure. Drop the weight and repeat until you reach muscle failure.

In reverse pyramid bodyweight training, however, you start with maximum pressure on the target muscle; then in the next set decrease the amount of pressure and increase the number of repetitions. There are rest intervals between sets in which you partially recover for the next set.

So, drop set is one single set that is composed of different segments with little to no rest between segments. Reverse pyramid is composed of different sets with rest intervals in between. The difference between drop set and reverse pyramid is very subtle. Particularly, a calisthenics reverse pyramid training is very likely to shift into a drop set and vice versa.

Reverse Pyramid Training for Fat Loss

Commonly, a reverse pyramid routine consists of three bodyweight pyramid sets with repetition range of 6 – 12. Advanced trainees, on the other hand, should increase the number of their sets. To increase fat burning feature while maintaining muscle mass, increase your rep range to 10, 12, and 14. Higher rep range means you should reduce the amount of weight on the target muscle

To maximize fat burning it is important to keep heart rate elevated throughout the workout. Minimizing rest intervals between sets to 1 minute helps to keep the heart rate up.

Diamond pyramid Training With Bodyweight

Diamond pyramid training is a combination of ascending bodyweight pyramid raining and descending bodyweight pyramid training. Again, before you start a bodyweight pyramid set, decide on the amount of pressure you want to put on the target muscle based on the range of repetitions. In other words, you should adapt the maximum amount of pressure that you can perform based on corresponding repetitions in each set.

  • Set 1 – 12 repetitions
  • Set 2 – 10 repetitions
  • Set 3 – 8 repetitions
  • Set 4 – 10 repetitions
  • Set 5 – 12 repetitions

Step Pyramid in Bodyweight Pyramid Training

In step pyramid, start your first set with the maximum weight you can tolerate; reduce it in the next few sets and again increase it.

  • Set 1 – maximum weight x 12 reps
  • Set 2 – reduce weight x 10 reps
  • Set 3 – reduce weight x 8 reps
  • Set 4 – increase weight x 10 reps
  • Set 5 – increase weight x 12 reps

Ways to Modify Your Calisthenics Pyramid Training Program:

  • Modify the volume of the exercise- beginners can start with 3 sets, and as you improve in the exercise, progress to 7 sets.
  • Increase the weight on the first set- keep to the same number of sets but increase the pressure on the first set.
  • Increase the percent of pressure in each set
  • Reduce rest intervals between sets

You can use a variety of tactics to make pyramid progression such as adding eccentric calisthenics training to the final set and so forth.

It is much better to note down your training plan and follow the program in any training system. This way you make sure that you do not skip sets and reps and complete your calisthenics pyramid training plan.

If you are a beginner, train by straight sets. Later, when you become experienced or reach a plateau, go for more advanced raining systems such as calisthenics pyramid training, bodyweight drop sets, calisthenics super set, etc.

What is a HIIT pyramid interval workout?

A pyramid HIIT workout is a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) in pyramid style. In this pyramid system of training, we use time intervals instead of sets and reps. HIIT is a cardiovascular system of training. So, it is aimed at aerobic fitness and weight loss rather than hypertrophy.

HIIT pyramid interval workout burns more calories than regular exercises. According to statistics, you are burning 10 to 15 calories per minute. Pyramid HIIT exercise enhances postexercise metabolism as well.

Example of HIIT pyramid interval workout with 15 minutes rest after each set. Set 1 – 20 seconds exercise

  • Set 2 – 25 seconds exercise
  • Set 3 – 45 seconds exercise
  • Set 4 – 25 seconds exercise
  • Set 5 – 20 seconds exercise

We can replace any type of aerobic exercise in this pyramid HIIT workout. Similarly, we can have a pyramid HIIT workout with TRX bands.

Related, Bodyweight Hypertrophy Sets with TRX.

The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *