Rep Pyramid Training


If you are going to sculpt your body you need to have the right tools. Throughout his lifetime, Joe Weider coached countless famous bodybuilders formulating what are now known as the Weider Principles. Some of these principles have been forgotten while some of them evolved such as the Weider Pyramid Principle.

The pyramid training principle involves varying rep range while decreasing or increasing the amount of resistance each successive set. The most common method is to move from lighter to heavier weights for an exercise by starting with high reps and a light weight, and then gradually increasing the weight while decreasing the reps each successive set.

This type of pyramid allow bodybuilders to sufficiently warm up prior to performing the last set with maximal exertion. For example, if you were to use pyramid training for barbell cheat rows your pyramid may look something like this:

  • Barbell Cheat Row
    • 135 lbs x 12 reps
    • 205 lbs x 7 reps
    • 275 lbs x 5 reps
    • 325 lbs x 3 reps

It is important to note that the first two to three sets act as a warm up and are not performed to failure. Failure is reached only on the final set as a new PR is attempted.

There are other types of pyramids; however, I find this type of pyramid is the most beneficial. In order to prepare for maximal exertion multiple warm up sets need to be performed.

Arnold Schwarzenegger would sometimes use pyramid training in order to shock the muscles. He would commonly reverse the order of the pyramid starting with the heaviest weight he could handle for only a few reps and then have his training partner pull off a few plates and then continue in the fashion until all the weight was completely stripped from the bar.

I use pyramid training at the beginning of each pull workout for the first exercise in order to warm up. After that I usually can switch to the next pulling exercise without any additional warm up sets with the exception of isolation movements.

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