What Is Pyramid Training & How Can This Build Strength?

pyramid training

A basic and effective form of training, the pyramid training can build serious strength.

With so many forms of training out there, it can be hard to tell which ones will work, but with pyramid training, you can’t go wrong. Too often do we stick with what we know. We can’t fault ourselves for that. Comfort is a luxury and in a sport like bodybuilding, powerlifting, or Strongman where we are constantly uncomfortable, why not allow ourselves that comfort we desperately seek? In this post, we will detail pyramid training and how it can help you build strength, grow muscle and remain engaged in your workout routine.

Let’s take a look at pyramid training and see what this is all about. From what it is to the benefits of it, we’ll give you an example of what a good plan will look like, plus some alternatives if you want to shake things up and really provide the best for your gains.

What Is Pyramid Training?

Pyramid training is a slower, more steady form of training resulting in changes to intensity and repetitions throughout your entire workout. With the amount of weight and number of sets either increasing or decreasing, the point of this is to create more tension for your muscles to cause an overload so they have to grow. The interval-style of training keeps things interesting and your workouts engaging while also working for better muscle building, fat loss, and even some conditioning as you keep yourself operating at a high level (1).

Benefits Of Pyramid Training

What pyramid training can do is greatly affect your muscle building gains by creating that tension and overload giving your muscles no choice but to grow (2). With the right approach to training, you are well on your way to seeing those gains you want most in the most efficient way possible. Benefits of pyramid training include:

  • Build muscle and strength: Working with weight and adding that tension and overload can push your muscles to fatigue thus leading them to grow.
  • Increase volume: With working on your set range, you allow yourself to add in more reps than with a traditional standard workout set.
  • Work towards muscular failure: Providing this overload to your muscles will fatigue them faster and allow for only the best once recovery takes over.
  • Warm-up sets included: You can incorporate your warm-up sets into this plan so you get a good warm-up while also having already started your workout.
  • Engaging form of training: This is an interesting and engaging form of training to keep you working harder and having fun with your workout.

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Alternate Form Of Pyramid Training: Reverse Pyramids

Similar to the traditional pyramid style of training, all the reverse pyramid does is flip the conventional method upside down (3). So, instead of starting with the lightest weight at the highest rep, flip it, and start with the heavier weight at the lowest rep. A unique reversal of this traditional method, it still allows for great gains just with a different approach.

Examples Of Both Pyramid & Reverse Pyramid Training

When it comes to these two forms of pyramid training, it will look self-explanatory. But for those unfamiliar, seeing it will make sense and you can put this into your next workout routine. For the standard pyramid, it will look something like each set ascending in weight while decreasing in reps.

A standard pyramid training plan would look something like:

Sets Weight Reps
1 50 12
2 60 10
3 70 8
4 80 6

The reverse pyramid is simply the above pyramid just in, well, reverse. This type of pyramid will see weight decreasing but reps increasing. Reverse pyramid training would look something like:

Sets Weight Reps
1 80 6
2 70 8
3 60 10
4 50 12

Since we know you will love this form of training, we wanted to share one more pyramid that you will enjoy. It is called step pyramid and it is a bit of a combination between a standard and reverse pyramid. Flowing from descending back to ascending order, this works to really target your muscles and cause some confusion, exactly what you want and need.

Step pyramid training looks something like this:

Sets Weight Reps
1 70 12
2 60 10
3 50 8
4 60 10
5 70 12

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The Best Supplement To Recover Post-Pyramid Sets

While we all know supplements can greatly influence our growth and recovery, having a top tier protein powder in the mix is exactly what you need. With so many on the market, it can be challenging to know for sure which ones will maximize your gains. But this powder from Transparent Labs is one to certainly boost growth and repair for all your gains.

Kaged Muscle Micropure Whey Protein Isolate

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Wrap Up

When it comes to pyramid training, it is all about the right approach. As we constantly seek the best in terms of our training plans, looking to those workout routines that seem suitable for us to perform can make all the difference. Pyramid training, along with reverse pyramid training and step pyramid training, are just a few examples of ways to make this fun and engaging while still seeing gains. Put this form into your workouts today and see what pyramid training can do for your muscle and strength building goals.

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*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Riberio, A.; et al. (2017). “Effects of Traditional and Pyramidal Resistance Training Systems on Muscular Strength, Muscle Mass, and Hormonal Responses in Older Women: A Randomized Crossover Trial”. (source)
  2. Ribeiro, A. (2016). “Traditional and pyramidal resistance training systems improve muscle quality and metabolic biomarkers in older women: A randomized crossover study”. (source)
  3. Dialameh, Maryam; et al. (2016). “Effects of 2 Types of Resistance Training, Pyramid and Reverse Pyramid Training, on IL-4, IL-6, and IFN in Young Women”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.