Pyramid sets – what are those?

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I’ve got another type of set for you to try in the gym! This one is a bit different from the previous examples (superset & tri-set) in that the number of repetitions and weight are constantly changing for every set. Those of you who regularly read my articles will have noticed I included pyramid sets into the superhero workout, so I will explain what they are and why they’re good.

So to begin with, there are 3 different types of pyramid set. These are the ascending pyramid, the descending pyramid and the full pyramid. Don’t worry about getting confused, pyramid sets are easy to learn but also highly effective!

Ascending Pyramid

An ascending pyramid starts you off on higher reps and lower weights. Then as the weight goes up, the number of reps goes down. An example of this can be seen here:

Set Reps Weight
1 12 60 kg
2 10 65 kg
3 8 70 kg
4 6 75 kg

 

The ascending pyramid is especially good for targeting strength as well as size. The first two sets tax the muscles somewhat but not so much that they are fatigued. That leaves plenty of energy to really lift heavy in the last two sets, which is where you will get your strength increases.

Descending Pyramid

A descending pyramid is like an ascending one, but only in reverse. Have a look at an example of this here:

Set Reps Weight
1 6 75
2 8 70
3 10 65
4 12 60

 

The descending pyramid is great for those looking for outright strength gains without tiring the muscles with initial high-rep sets. After your warmup sets, go straight to your strength building rep ranges (3-6reps) and then work down for the following sets targeting muscle size (8-12reps).

Full Pyramid

The full pyramid takes both the ascending and descending pyramid sets and puts them together. An example of this can be seen here:

Set Reps Weight
1 12 60
2 10 65
3 8 70
4 6 75
5 8 70
6 10 65
7 12 60

 

The full pyramid offers both strength and size benefits. The high volume nature of this set type is perfect for gaining muscle size, as well as hitting lower rep ranges associated with strength. It is a great way to train your strength defining lifts (e.g. squat, bench press, shoulder press). The only drawback with a full pyramid is the higher chance of muscle fatigue, due to the high volume of lifting.

Pyramid sets are just another tool for you to use in your training sessions. Remember that as well as consistency, variety is also key to improvement, so mix up your training now and then!

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About Author

As a physical education graduate and qualified personal trainer, Mathew is very knowledgable when it comes to fitness. Outdoor training is a personal favourite of Mathew's but he also has a high degree of gym based experience. Location: Carlisle

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