This is a great technique that you can use for most body parts to target all muscle fibers, that is, type I, type IIa and type IIb. Essentially, these different types of muscle fibers represent different kinds of training and will produce different results in the body. In short, type I fibers are endurance fibers where 12-15 reps is the usual standard; type IIa fibers are a type of fast twitch fibers good for medium strength where the usual recommendation is 6-8 reps and type IIb fibers are fast twitch muscle fibers which are all about strength and power and the usual recommendation is 1-3 reps.
When you go and see a personal trainer, you'll probably get the question, so what are you looking to train for? To which the answer will be OK, endurance so let's get you doing 10-15 reps on this exercise. And then you'll see power lifters doing heavy weights and going for 1-3 reps.
Using this technque, however, you can work all three muscle fibers, which means you are tapping into BOTH endurance and strength. This is a great technique to use for weight loss, because you are flooding the area with lactic acid with high reps and then cranking out a few more reps using a higher weight, which forces your muscles to recruit more fibers, work harder and rev up that metabolism.
Here's how it works:
Pick your body part (e.g triceps). Use a light weight, enough that you can get 12-30 reps. Rest 20 seconds then use a HIGHER weight so that you can get 6-8 (even 10-12) reps. Rest 20 seconds and use another HIGHER weight so that you can get in 3-6 reps (it might only be 1-2). If you can up the weight still, do one FINAL set of 1 REP MAX, that is, a set of ONE rep. A good rule of thumb is to up the weight by 2.5-5 lbs.
Now, you are increasing the weight 4 times on ONE body part. You don't have to do it like that, you could just do high reps and then superset with a higher weight one time, OR you could do high reps and then triple set with a higher weight 2 more times.
In terms of reps, you can also play with the numbers, but you want minimum 12 reps for the 1st set. It could be 15, 20, 30 reps and understandably the weight is going to be low. For the 2nd set, aim for about HALF the number of sets compared to your 1st set. So, if you did 30 reps on the 1st set, go for 12-15. If you did 12 reps on the 1st set, go for 6-8 reps. When it comes to the 3rd set, the reps will depend on how fatigued your muscles are. I've done this technique and only been able to sometimes get in ONE rep on that 3rd set (meaning no need for a quadruple set, because I've already hit my one rep max). Go for HALF the number of sets compared to the 2nd set. So, if you did 6-8 on the second set, aim for 3-4 on the 3rd set. Then, if you want you can add one more set and make it just ONE rep.
Yes, it's true you can PYRAMID DOWN and do the exact OPPOSITE! In other words, you can do 3-4 sets and DROP the weight each time while adding MORE REPS each time. This is another great option and is really good for cranking out reps. Again, a good rule of thumb is to drop the weight by 2.5-5 lbs. I really like using this technique for bicep curls. E.g. 20 lbs 6-8 reps, 15 lbs 10 reps, 10 pounds 12 reps and 8 pounds 15 reps. When you DROP the weight, you can even ADD MORE sets. So in my bicep example, you can add 2 more sets by then dropping down to 5 pounds at 15-20 reps and then 2.5 pounds at 20+ reps. When you DROP the weight, you can:
I like to crank them out with No Rest and Get It Done, but it also depends on the kind of day I'm having ;)
I must admit that pyramiding UP is QUITE THE CHALLENGE, so do it on a day when you've got the energy. I do find that PYRAMIDING UP works a bit more on strength, which means that PYRAMIDING DOWN works more on endurance. If you take my example of biceps curl, 5 sets X say 10 reps = 50 bicep curls, that's a lot of curls so you're definitely working much more on endurance. In comparison, if you were to pyramid up, you'd be doing 12 reps+8+4+1 = 25 reps, so that's about half the number of rep at a higher weight, in other words, more strength based.
FYI: Here's a video demonstrating how you can put the technique of pyramiding UP using quadruple sets into action. This is an example of using deadlifts.
All in all, I find that whether you pyramid up or down, you are able to get in a higher load in a shorter amount of time than the usual recommendation of doing 3 sets of x number of reps and waiting around each time between sets (a very popular and common technique). Since many people have tight schedules, I find using the pyramiding scheme to be an EXCELLENT STRATEGY for building strength/mass (pyramiding UP) and endurance (pyramiding DOWN) in a faster amount of time. I also find that using either one is a GREAT WAY to GET CUT, TONED and LOSE WEIGHT.
You can use this for ANY BODY PART with EXCELLENT RESULTS!
Give it a try and see how it goes :)
To your fit and healthy body,
Fit Tips & Workouts by Cat Wilson
Go ahead, Get Fit! Your Body Deserves It...and So Do You :)
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