How To Do A Pyramid Set: Level 3 Resistance Training System Explained

You need to know how to do a pyramid set as part of your Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualification.

A pyramid set is one of the many Level 3 Resistance Training Systems that you need to know about in order to master the planning and instructing sections of your course. 

This blog and video will show you everything you need to know about Pyramid Sets… 

How To Do A Pyramid Set

Watch the 2 mins Video Here:

How To Do A Pyramid Set: Level 3 Resistance Training System Explained

In this video, I’m in the gym and I’m sitting on the chest press machine, explaining everything you need to know about programming and instructing a pyramid set.

What are the benefits of a pyramid set?

A pyramid set is a level 3 resistance training system, we’ll show you how to do a pyramid set in this blog, but first… why should you do it?

  • A transition system: as it spans multiple reps it’s great to get your client used to a new rep range (maybe as you progress from 12 reps to 10 reps for example).
  • A plateau buster: with each set the weight changes, so it is a great opportunity to bust you/ or your client out of a plateau and into heavier weights. 
  • Simple but not easy: The pyramid set is simple to grasp, as it is a progression of a multiple set, still keeping the rests in between. However, the change in resistance makes it harder and more intense.
  • All good: because the rep range can change, depending on the goal, it makes the pyramid set great for Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced clients 

When programming a pyramid set, you have to start with the end in mind. 

Start by considering what your client’s goal is, and then choose the relevant rep ranges for their goal…

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What reps should I use for a hypertrophy pyramid set?

It is important to choose the relevant number of reps for your pyramid set, and these reps should be chosen based on your clients goal. 

If their goal is hypertrophy then you need to ensure the repetitions are between 8 reps and 12 reps. 

If they have an endurance goal then you would select reps between 12 reps and 20 reps. 

how to do a pyramid set - goal rep ranges

What is a Pyramid Set?

Unlike some level 3 resistance training systems, the pyramid set has a name that literally reflects how you perform it.

Imagine a pyramid of repetitions, with a large number at the bottom and a small number at the top. In a pyramid set you are moving up or down this pyramid.

Ascending Pyramid: From high reps (and lightweight) to Low reps (and heavy weight)

Descending Pyramid: From low reps (and heavyweight) to High reps (and light weight)

Full Pyramid: An ascending pyramid followed by a descending pyramid

how to do a pyramid: ascending and descending

How to do a Pyramid Set?

If you start off at twelve repetitions you need to have an appropriate weight for those twelve repetitions, so that you reach your twelve rep max, and can’t do the thirteenth rep. 

You then rest for 60 seconds because you’ve done twelve reps, Here you need to prepare for the next set and this is where you would change the weight, so you can reach your 10 rep max, so I would only do 10 reps but this time on a heavier weight.

You achieve your 10 rep max, You can’t do 11 reps it’s that heavy. Then
you have a rest for 90 seconds.

Notice that the rest went up because the load is going up and your reps have changed as well. Then you need to prepare for your third set and in this case you need to do eight reps. So you need to make it heavier
again, so that you can reach your eight rep max,

Then after that you would rest for 120 seconds.

If you want to make it a full pyramid I would then go back down 8, 10, 12 remembering to change the rest and the weight as well as the reps. 

How to write a Pyramid Set?

You would write a hypertrophy pyramid set like this:

NOTE: ensure you stipulate which exercise you are doing the pyramid set on

There are three things that you need to change on every pyramid set:

The reps, the weight and the rest…

how to do a pyramid set - three things to change on every set

If you change those on each part so you’re progressing through the pyramid then you will have your pyramid correct.

Give this to go ready for your portfolio and practical assessment and if you have any questions drop them below

There’s not just one Resistance Training System

There are over 17 resistance training systems that are taught in the Level 3 PT syllabus which can be overwhelming to distinguish which system to use and when. to plan them. Our FIT-Progressions online programme breaks down each of these in detail with clear protocol to follow for each one.

Plus you learn how to periodise your planning of these systems to allow for logical progressive overload so your client can get their goal every time.

>>>> Join us for FIT-Progressions here

Become a knowledgeable and confident FITPRO, with a clear strategy to get results with your clients every time.

There’s no more self-doubt. There’s no more guessing what to plan or how to get client results. FIT-Progressions has 8 modules and 18 video tutorials that guide you through every stage of your Level 3 Personal Trainer case study, and how to work with clients effectively.

This is for you if you’re…

  • struggling to complete your coursework for PT, Yoga, or Pilates
  • a newly qualified FITPRO that feels stuck or overwhelmed
  • unsure where to start when planning a client session
  • worrying about applying your course knowledge with a real client
  • doubting you could get results and lack structure to client packages
  • anxious and confused about how to get found and get busy

Click the link to find out more and join us:

Test your knowledge with today’s planning mock questions:

[NOTE: The answers are below the 3rd question]

Q1: Which of the following variables does not change on each set of a Pyramid?

A. Repetitions
B. Rest time
C. Rate or speed of movement
D. Resistance or weight

Q2: Which is an ascending pyramid?

A. From low reps (and light weight) to high reps (and heavy weight)
B. From high reps (and light weight) to Low reps (and heavy weight)
C. From high reps (and heavy weight) to Low reps (and light weight)
D. From low reps (and heavy weight) to Low reps (and light weight)

Q3: If a client was to go 12-10-8 repetitions, what type of pyramid is this?
A. Lengthened
B. Full
C. Descending
D. Ascending

Answers to the mock questions are :

Question 1= C, Question 2 = B, Question 3 = D

If you want more mock questions like this, then you can download more Free Mock Questions: DOWNLOAD NOW

Dedicated to More

Hayley “How To Do A Pyramid Set” Bergman

Parallel Coaching 

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