Just wondering what the theory behind this is? Is it simply to make sure the body slowly warms into the exercise, or so that many more reps are done in a session?

Typically it's to get more reps in for someone who isn't very strong at a lift, like a pullup.


Thanks for the info. It's pull-ups/chins I am pyramiding on just now. Man, you just cannot beat them for upper body conditioning.

What about pyramiding with push ups? I've seen workout routine which call for pyramids with pushups, like scrappers workouts (

Yeah, I was thinking that too.

I usually do 20-30 in a set, with 3 or 4 sets. Would it be worth changing this around to pyramid them instead?

It's an easy way to increase volume on an exercise. When I do BWE's, I pyramid pull-ups 1-10-1 by 1's, push-ups 2-20-2 by 2's, and crunches 3-30-3 by 3's. I end up doing 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 crunches in 20 minutes. If I were to try doing that in regular sets, it'd take a lot longer.

Err... I'm not very clued-up on the "pyramid lingo"... any chance you could give an explaination for the layman? It would be greatly appreciated as I am trying to work my entire routine into scrapperesque workouts. I think I am finally done with all weights... they just don't compare to natural exercises like chins, press-ups etc.

If you pyramid 1-5 (just to keep it short for explination's sake):1 rep, rest
2 reps, rest
3 reps, rest
4 reps, rest
5 reps, rest
4 reps, rest
3 reps, rest
2 reps, rest
1 rep, rest

"Err... I'm not very clued-up on the "pyramid lingo"... any chance you could give an explaination for the layman?"

I believe 1-10-1 means he starts by doing 1, then 2, then 3....up to 10, then does 9, then 8, then 7....down to 1.

At least that is how I do them.

I really like pyramiding...I find my form is WAY better when I do that rep scheme than when I am just trying to do a bunch all at once. It also tends to aggravate my injuries less. I use it for pull-ups and push (although I mix in different types of push ups as part of the pyramid).

Pyramiding is great for BWE because it contains a "built in" warm-up period (the lower reps), peaks, and then keeps the intensity high while dropping the reps. Dave Godfrey gives a good explanation of how this works in my videos in a review for SFUK:SCRAPPER REVIEWMake sure you check out my Lots O Pullups page for different variations. Train hard, SCRAP

Is pyramiding better than working to failure?

Ok, with pyramiding I can get more reps in, but what if I can do the same number of reps in 3 to 5 sets of working to failure?

Depends on your goals, franklyn. I superset pyramids of different exercises, so I'm constantly moving from one exercise to another during the pyramids. It's a great workout that hits me in a number of different ways. Also, the tapering nature of the pyramids allows me to get that many reps without every going to failure. This is a great way, at least for me, to fend off any soreness the next day. Even better, I can use such BWE pyramids as a recovery workout from regular lifting sessions.

Hmm.. let's clear up some terminology.

First, a pyramid vs a ladder.

A pyramid is when you increase repetititions to a particular range and then decrease back down. As far as notation goes, ryan's assessment is correct, and i like blane's notation. what he means "by 2's" or "by 3's" is that instead of increasing one rep per set (1, 2, 3 and so on) he starts at 2 and goes up by 2 reps every set (2, 4, 6, and so on) or starts at three and goes up by 3's (3, 6, 9, and so on).

A ladder is essentially half of a pyramid. You increase to a number (go up the ladder) or decrease the number (go down the ladder) by one or more reps per set.

So what is best? Depends on what you want out of it.


Mostly definition just now.

I am working on narrow grip pull ups just now. I've just done pyramids from 1-5, 1-4, 1-3, 1-2, 1-1. Is that good, are is there anything I could in prove on?

"So what is best? Depends on what you want out of it."

Ok, this is what i'm not clear on, what am I getting out of it. What are the effects of pyramiding and working to failure on my body. How does it differ? I know how to do the exercises, I don't know what is going on inside.


It's good as long as it improves. When it stops improving, it's time to change.


Thats a good question. In both cases you're working to develop primarily muscular endurance. But there is a difference:

Working to failure is tough on the nervous system which takes longer to recover then the muscles. On the flip side, pyramiding allows you to do a ton of reps which add up to potential wear and tear on the joints.

That's the only real difference i see. If you can do the same number of reps either way at the same cadence, the only real difference is neurological. The pyramiding, in the case of all else is equal, is probably better.