Marines-style pyramid training

Marines-style pyramid training

For this week’s workout post, I wanted to focus on a training method rather than any particular exercise. The director of the studio I work at introduced me to the method of training I’m about to explain. At first I was skeptical about it, because I don’t tend to favour a lot of high rep training. But then I tried it myself… and nearly died.

This kind of training is super intense. You will want to quit, and you have to fight with every inch of your body and mind to keep going. It is used by the Marines to build up endurance while still lifting relatively heavy weights. The question becomes not how much you can squat, but how many times you can do it.

So how do I do it?
You will follow a pattern of performing sets from one rep up to 10 reps, and then descend back down the pyramid. You rest after each set, but only for the amount of time it took you to complete the set. For example, a push up takes about two seconds to perform, so you would follow the pattern below:

1 rep, rest for 2 seconds
2 reps, rest for 4 seconds
3 reps, rest for 6 seconds
4 reps, rest for 8 seconds
5 reps, rest for 10 seconds
6 reps, rest for 12 seconds
7 reps, rest for 14 seconds
8 reps, rest for 16 seconds
9 reps, rest for 18 seconds
10 reps, rest for 20 seconds
9 reps, rest for 18 seconds
8 reps, rest for 16 seconds
7 reps, rest for 14 seconds
6 reps, rest for 12 seconds
5 reps, rest for 10 seconds
4 reps, rest for 8 seconds
3 reps, rest for 6 seconds
2 reps, rest for 4 seconds
1 reps, rest for 2 seconds

Each exercise is designed to take seven and a half minutes to perform. I have done this with a few of my more advanced clients, and I really have to step up and become a coach during the last three minutes or so when everyone wants to give up!

The first time I followed this pyramid structure, I tried it using a shoulder press machine. Once you get past the peak of the pyramid, you’re done. I couldn’t believe I was struggling to press 15 kilos for just five reps!! And don’t be fooled by bodyweight exercises either. I thought they would be easy, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

For a full workout, you should choose four exercises to provide a total time under tension of 30 minutes. Rest for three minutes in between each exercise. Because of the high intensity nature of the workout, it’s best to target the whole body, or upper or lower body, rather than a specific muscle group. Almost any exercise will work, but I have chosen some of the best, bang for your buck exercises below.

Upper body workout (all following the pyramid structure):
Bench press
Bent over row
Push ups
Inverted row (using a Smith machine bar or TRX)

Source 

Lower body workout (all following the pyramid structure):
Squat (back or front)
Deadlift (only do this if your form is 100% – a straight legged deadlift will also work)
Lunge (do both sides!)
Leg press machine

In terms of what weight to pick, keep in mind that you are doing 100 reps of each exercise – but over an extended period of time – so I would recommend choosing something you think you can lift for 20 consecutive reps. You want it to be heavy enough to burn, but not too heavy that you can’t finish the pyramid.

Until you climb to about five reps, it won’t make much sense to rerack or drop the weight (if performing an exercise like a squat or bent over row) or rest on the ground (if performing a bodyweight exercise such as a push up or inverted row). So don’t be fooled by the smaller number of reps at the beginning and end – you’ll still be supporting all the weight while you rest!

I really want you guys to try this and tell me what you think! You don’t have to do a full workout – just try one exercise and report back on its brutality. You can try the push up right now!

Did you try it? Have you followed a pyramid structure before?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...