If you find yourself stuck in a plateau or you’re just looking to spice up your workout routine, then pyramid training is for you!

Pyramid training is a stepped technique of sets and repetitions. It’s a collection of sets, of the same exercise, that start with a lighter weight with higher reps, gradually building up to a heavier weight with fewer reps. This type of training can be completed as an upward or downward sequence in weight and reps.

Not only does Pyramid training work so well for building muscle but it’s fun and challenging too! With pyramid training, you will have endless exercise variety, and a range of challenges to keep your training progressive and engaging.


Benefits of Pyramid Training

  • Helps build muscle and strength.
  • Activates fast-twitch muscle fibres, ones that are important for strength and power.
  • Improves muscular endurance.
  • Can be done with a wide range of exercises and many different types of equipment.
  • By starting off with a light weight it allows your joints and target muscles to warm up so your body will be better prepared for the heavier lifts.
  • Allows for a more intense workout.   
  • Pyramid training helps eliminate plateaus by providing a more dynamic workout.
  • Aids in fat loss via muscle building.
  • It can be time-efficient.
  • Increases motivation and curbs boredom by adding variety to your training routine.


Types of Pyramid Training

Ascending Pyramids

Increase the weight as you decrease the reps for each set. 

For example:

  • 1st Set  –  lightest weight (warm-up round) 12-15 reps
  • 2nd Set  – light/medium weight 10-12 reps
  • 3rd Set  – medium weight 8-10 reps
  • 4th Set  – heavy weight: 6-8 reps

Descending Pyramids

Decrease the weight as you increase the reps with each set. Note that there is no “warm-up” round with this technique so you will need to ensure that you are properly warmed-up before you begin.

For example:

  • 1st Set  – heavy weight: 6-8 reps
  • 2nd Set – medium weight: 8-10 reps
  • 3rd Set – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps
  • 4th Set – lightest weight 12-15 reps

Triangle Pyramids

This technique combines both ascending and descending pyramids. You will find that you will be completing more sets with this approach.

For example:

  • 1st Set – lightest weight: 12-15 reps
  • 2nd Set – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps
  • 3rd Set – medium: 8-10 reps
  • 4th Set  – heavy 6-8 reps
  • 5th Set – medium weight: 8-10 reps
  • 6th Set – light/medium weight: 10-12 reps
  • 7th Set – lightest weight: 12-15 reps


It’s important to note that you don’t want to take any of your sets to muscular failure except for your last one.You’ll want to avoid fatiguing them too soon, this way you’ll have enough energy to complete your workout.



There are a variety of ways in which you can progress your pyramid training technique.

  • Increase your weight– maintain a consistent set range but gradually increase the weight you lift over time.
  • Increase Volume– add more sets to your workout
  • Increase your weight increments between sets– i.e. go from 2kg extra per set to 4 kg extra per set, or increase by an amount that works for you.
  • Reduce the rest between sets– maintain a minimum of 60 seconds if you are just starting out but as you gain strength and confidence, try reducing your rest periods to increase the intensity of your workout.


If you’re stuck between weight levels for your last set

So your gym has 7,5 kg and 10 kg dumbbells, but the 7,5 kgs are too light and the 10 kgs are too heavy to complete the prescribed reps to failure. Complete half the rep count (or what you can manage using proper form)  with the heavier weight then scale back down to the lighter weight for the remaining reps. Eventually, you will be able to do all the reps with that heavier weight. Alternatively, use the lighter weight and repeat your medium weight set a second time. Attempt to lift the heavier weight in your next session (that uses that same muscle group).

Are you ready to boost your performance with pyramid training?

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