Pyramid Weight Training

By Bill Willis, BSc, a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University.

What you see is the aftermath of a fairly well thought-out pyramid set and a perfect example of why pyramid weight training just does not work in the traditional sense.

Nik did the traditional pyramid set. You saw the last set of it. Before he was on camera, Nik performed a set of 20 reps with the light weight, a set of 15 reps with a little lighter weight, and then his work set, which was supposed to be a set of 10-12 reps, just with five more pounds. he had a 25-pound dumbbell. he failed right at six reps.

This is what pyramid training does to people. It raises lactate levels through the roof during the warm-up sets, when the weight should be light and muscles should be warming up, they are actually sapping their strength - important strength that they need on the heavier work sets to come. For that reason, pyramid training in its traditional sense, is self-limiting, just based on the basic scheme.

What I would have Nik do, in terms of an altered pyramid, is do three sets of six at the lighter weight, followed by an intermediate set, something in between his work set and his lightest set. In this case, Nik is using 25-pounds and he failed at six reps. Nik would normally be able to get that for 10. In this case, I would have Nik go 20 for eight. Followed by that, Nik would do 25 for five reps and he would get ten or more reps. In this way, we are not burning out, before you are actually getting to the weight that matters.

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