T Nation

Strength of Pyramid Sets

I know pyramid set is outdated in T-Nation. .Most people in T-Nation prefer straight set than pyramid set . But if you look at the traditional bodybuilding magazine you will find that most bodybuilder do pyramid to gain mass.I have done 5x5 8x3 6x4 5x10 type of training a lot . Now I need a change of pace.What type of pyramid set will be most efficient for mass?

Run a search for “combat pyramids”. I made significant gains when I super-set this with Steel12’s 200 pullups a day program. Good luck.

I think pyramid type of loading has been popular and will always be popular because it works for many people. Most people say that pyramiding up to your 5-8 rep max for your last set and increasing that weight in subsequent work outs (if possible) will develop mass.

I think Professor X goes up to 10 reps for the last set before increasing the weight on a particular exercise. http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/professor_x_a_request His avatar is one of the most massive I have seen in this forum. I am sure there are a few people just as big if not bigger, but they don’t post any pics so I have no idea how they look.

[quote]hawaiilifterMike wrote:
I think pyramid type of loading has been popular and will always be popular because it works for many people. Most people say that pyramiding up to your 5-8 rep max for your last set and increasing that weight in subsequent work outs (if possible) will develop mass.

I think Professor X goes up to 10 reps for the last set before increasing the weight on a particular exercise. http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/professor_x_a_request His avatar is one of the most massive I have seen in this forum. I am sure there are a few people just as big if not bigger, but they don’t post any pics so I have no idea how they look.[/quote]

98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).

I love them, for bulking!
example of a bench press i did recently
(warmed up first)
80kg x 10
90kg x 8
100kg x 5
110kg x 2

If its outdated then I am outdated too.

I just start a weight that gets the blood flowing and the muscles stretched and make my last set or two heavier or more reps than last week.

Very Simple!

Most references to ‘Pyramid’ routines are actually ‘Half pyramid’ ie only the first half, working up to a max weight.

Full (real old school) pyramid would look something like this example:
60 x 12
70 x 10
80 x 8
90 x 6
100 x 4
105 x 2
110 x 1
100 x 2
90 x 4
80 x 6
70 x 8
60 x 10
50 x 12

As you can see there is a lot of low quality work, you get tired by the time you get up to the ‘heavy weight’ and the overall average intensity is low. The first thing people tend to alter is to drop the second half (decending weights) and make the warm ups less tiring so that the quality work can be focussed on.

[quote]Beerguy wrote:
If its outdated then I am outdated too.
[/quote]

We’re all outdated dude… Just like big muscles are, it seems.

98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).
[/quote]

Do they train like this on all of their exercises or just the main compound ones? Like is this also the way most pros do things like biceps curls or leg extensions?

[quote]Cephalic_Carnage wrote:

98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).
[/quote]

So you’re saying only 2% train correctly?

(Sorry, you left that one hanging.)

[quote]SquatDeep385 wrote:
98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).

Do they train like this on all of their exercises or just the main compound ones? Like is this also the way most pros do things like biceps curls or leg extensions?[/quote]

Every pro I have seen training (obviously via youtube or my own movies) uses pyramid sets on all exercises (this is just pyramiding up though not down). That includes bicep curls and leg extensions. Figure all the prior sets are just a warmup to that last set where you give it your all.

[quote]austin_bicep wrote:
SquatDeep385 wrote:
98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).

Do they train like this on all of their exercises or just the main compound ones? Like is this also the way most pros do things like biceps curls or leg extensions?

Every pro I have seen training (obviously via youtube or my own movies) uses pyramid sets on all exercises (this is just pyramiding up though not down). That includes bicep curls and leg extensions. Figure all the prior sets are just a warmup to that last set where you give it your all. [/quote]

Any reason why they don’t pyramid it down? Are there any additional benefits of pyramiding down or is it just straining the recovery too much? Thanks

[quote]Taufiq wrote:
austin_bicep wrote:
SquatDeep385 wrote:
98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).

Do they train like this on all of their exercises or just the main compound ones? Like is this also the way most pros do things like biceps curls or leg extensions?

Every pro I have seen training (obviously via youtube or my own movies) uses pyramid sets on all exercises (this is just pyramiding up though not down). That includes bicep curls and leg extensions. Figure all the prior sets are just a warmup to that last set where you give it your all.

Any reason why they don’t pyramid it down? Are there any additional benefits of pyramiding down or is it just straining the recovery too much? Thanks[/quote]

I pyramid up. The main purpose of this is to get my body ready for the heaviest set as well as fatigue the muscle group because that also leads to more growth. Why would I go back down in weight unless the goal was to just do more overall volume?

People aren’t doing these things for no reason just to say they did a “pyramid”.

[quote]Taufiq wrote:
austin_bicep wrote:
SquatDeep385 wrote:
98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).

Do they train like this on all of their exercises or just the main compound ones? Like is this also the way most pros do things like biceps curls or leg extensions?

Every pro I have seen training (obviously via youtube or my own movies) uses pyramid sets on all exercises (this is just pyramiding up though not down). That includes bicep curls and leg extensions. Figure all the prior sets are just a warmup to that last set where you give it your all.

Any reason why they don’t pyramid it down? Are there any additional benefits of pyramiding down or is it just straining the recovery too much? Thanks[/quote]

Why pyramid down again?
This is all about gaining strength. You warm up to your working weight, once you get enough reps with it, you move up in weight.

What purpose would pyramiding back down serve? Or extra sets (unless you were to go low in reps, then things could be handled differently…) ?

If pyramiding back down doesn’t help me get stronger faster, then there’s simply no reason to do it in a bodybuilding context.

[quote]Professor X wrote:

I pyramid up. The main purpose of this is to get my body ready for the heaviest set as well as fatigue the muscle group because that also leads to more growth. Why would I go back down in weight unless the goal was to just do more overall volume?

People aren’t doing these things for no reason just to say they did a “pyramid”.
[/quote]

I get the feeling that quite a few people here do half their training completely at random and with no real rhyme or reason to it.

“Let’s do 3 drop sets on this exercise… Just… Because… I wanna feel the burn!”

“Let’s superset 3-6 exercises for delts, no rest periods and 3-4 straight sets on each. Sure it’ll make getting stronger kinda difficult, but I’m sure the burn will make my delts grow huge.”

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Taufiq wrote:
austin_bicep wrote:
SquatDeep385 wrote:
98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).

Do they train like this on all of their exercises or just the main compound ones? Like is this also the way most pros do things like biceps curls or leg extensions?

Every pro I have seen training (obviously via youtube or my own movies) uses pyramid sets on all exercises (this is just pyramiding up though not down). That includes bicep curls and leg extensions. Figure all the prior sets are just a warmup to that last set where you give it your all.

Any reason why they don’t pyramid it down? Are there any additional benefits of pyramiding down or is it just straining the recovery too much? Thanks

I pyramid up. The main purpose of this is to get my body ready for the heaviest set as well as fatigue the muscle group because that also leads to more growth. Why would I go back down in weight unless the goal was to just do more overall volume?

People aren’t doing these things for no reason just to say they did a “pyramid”.
[/quote]

Hey Prof X, when you pyramid up do you go to failure on each set? thx

I personally pyramid up for warm up sets and then when i get to my working sets i usually do 5x5 or 3x3 depending on the training cycle. 5x5 is usually done with a weight in the 80% range of my 1 RM and 3x3 is done with around 90%.

After my working sets i will sometimes drop down and do one or two sets in the 60-70% range and go to failure.

I feel this is the best way to increase strength and size at the same time. pyramiding up to one heavy set is not nearly enough to increase strength substantially. IMHO

[quote]maraudermeat wrote:
I personally pyramid up for warm up sets and then when i get to my working sets i usually do 5x5 or 3x3 depending on the training cycle. 5x5 is usually done with a weight in the 80% range of my 1 RM and 3x3 is done with around 90%.

After my working sets i will sometimes drop down and do one or two sets in the 60-70% range and go to failure.

I feel this is the best way to increase strength and size at the same time. pyramiding up to one heavy set is not nearly enough to increase strength substantially. IMHO[/quote]

Hence me saying that low reps would be handled differently.

If I go 6-10 or even higher in reps, then more than one work set on the same exercise has my strength increasing slower/ I end up stalling faster…

The “ramping up to one top-set” thing is also mostly used on standard bb training where you do that for 2-4 exercises per muscle-group (in a regular split with normal training frequency), so the overall volume is there… You just get it via extra exercises and not via sets on the same exercise I suppose.

Edit: Come to think of it, Wendler 5/3/1 uses ramping as well… Though with fairly small weight-jumps (you get a version with slightly bigger weight jumps too, which is the one Jim said he prefers if I recall correctly… That’s the version I’m currently using on some of my big exercises, too and it’s working very well).

[quote]Taufiq wrote:
austin_bicep wrote:
SquatDeep385 wrote:
98 percent of big bodybuilders train like that, just throwing that one out there (once again).

Do they train like this on all of their exercises or just the main compound ones? Like is this also the way most pros do things like biceps curls or leg extensions?

Every pro I have seen training (obviously via youtube or my own movies) uses pyramid sets on all exercises (this is just pyramiding up though not down). That includes bicep curls and leg extensions. Figure all the prior sets are just a warmup to that last set where you give it your all.

Any reason why they don’t pyramid it down? Are there any additional benefits of pyramiding down or is it just straining the recovery too much? Thanks[/quote]

pyramiding down became less popular as people started doing more exercises.

If your going to just bench press in 1960, then you might do 5 sets going up then 5 going down. As they started to break chest into a gazillion different exercises there was no need for the down. You figure most people pyramid up on lets say the flat bench, when you go over to the incline many don’t start at their max weight, you start light which is a similar effect to pyramiding down had you stayed on the flat bench.

[quote]ebraunschweiler wrote:

Hey Prof X, when you pyramid up do you go to failure on each set? thx[/quote]

If you were to do that, then you’d tire yourself out on your light sets already.
Makes getting strong on your heavy set pretty damn hard :wink: