How To Do a Pyramid Training System

Today’s blog will explore How To Do a Pyramid Training System. Plus you’ll learn the #1 Mistake FITPROs make when planning and instructing pyramids.

If you are working towards your Level 3 Personal Trainer Qualification, Pyramids are one of the 17 resistance training systems that you need to be able to plan and instruct… but how do you plan a pyramid training system effectively?

Watch the 9-minute video below, then test your knowledge with three mock questions.

How To Do a Pyramid Training System

How To Do A Pyramid Training System

What a Pyramid Training System is NOT

For most FITPROs the source of confusion is usually getting the Pyramid system mixed up with a different training system. In particular, the drop set.

A Pyramid is not a drop set. A drop set has no rest between the changes in intensity, but a pyramid does have a rest.

Neither is a Pyramid system the same as a basic or multiple set. In these training systems, the load and rep range stays the same across multiple sets of one exercise, in a pyramid the load and repetitions change on every set.

The golden rule of a Pyramid: Three variables change on every set

Each training system has its own rules to follow. These rules show you how to manipulate the variables in line with the system as originally designed, in order to get the desired result.

In a Pyramid Training System, there is a golden rule

You must change three variables on each set:

  • Repetition
  • Resistance
  • Rest duration

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, and 12 remembering to change the rest and the weight as well as the reps. 

Choosing a Rep range for a pyramid

It is important that you choose a Rep Range that is relevant to the client’s goal and ability. This allows you to control the anatomical and physiological adaptation created by completing the pyramid set, and therefore control the likelihood of the client achieving their 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

Benefits of a Pyramid Training System

Now you know what a Pyramid training system is, and how to plan it, why should you programme this for your clients? Here are the main benefits of choosing a pyramid:

  • 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).
  • An Introduction to heavier loads: with each set the weight changes, so it is a great opportunity to bust through your client’s performance plateau and into heavier loads. 
  • Allows for recovery: Unlike other advanced systems like tri-sets and giant sets; the pyramid retains the rest in between sets meaning maximum overload can be achieved on each set, rather than experiencing fatigue.
  • 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.
  • 3-10 sets of one exercise: Every Pyramid has at least 3 sets of one exercise, which makes it really appropriate for intermediate and beginner clients, who should be aiming for 3-10 sets of each exercise when progressing volume in each session.
  • Goal specific: When programming a pyramid set, you have to start with the end in mind. 

Practice Practice Practice

Before planning a Pyramid training system with a client, practice for yourself. To recap:

  • Plan out the repetitions that you are aiming for on each set. i.e .8-10-12
  • Then set a predicted resistance/load for each repetition targetted set. ie 120kg – 100kg – 90kg
  • Then plan your rest times ie. 120 secs – 90 secs -60 secs

Then practice it, and notice how you can tweak the resistance as needed to hit overload on the planned repetitions and remember to TIME YOUR RESTS

Once you’ve practised it on yourself, guage whether your client is ready for it, and repeat the process to plan the pyramid training system for a client.

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]

[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 Training System” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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