A woman gripping a barbell on the floor about to do a deadlift

The best pyramid set exercises and workouts for strength training

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Ready to push through your training plateau? Try pyramid setting these exercises. 

When it comes to strength training, consistency is key. There can, however, be too much of a good thing; your body won’t keep building muscle if you do the same exercises for the same reps using the same weight every single workout. 

That’s where techniques such as pyramid sets come in handy. “We should be looking at changing a small something in our workouts every six to eight weeks,” says Faye Edwards, personal trainer and manager of Third Space. “Tweaks like using pyramid sets helps us avoid plateauing, explores new ways to work your muscles and keeps things fun.” 

The training system involves increasing the weight of your dumbbell, kettlebell or machine every set, while simultaneously dropping the number of reps you do. You can find out everything you need to know about pyramid sets in our Training Club feature, and then try out the new technique using the exercises below. 

How to use pyramid sets in your workouts

Choose compound exercises 

“As there’s usually quite a few sets to get through, it’s best to keep it simple by using compound exercises including push, pull, squat and hinge,” recommends Faye. “As you get more acquainted with the process, you can start to add in unilateral work such as a single arm rows. But for the most part, use straight forward exercises that you know you can push the weights on.” 

Get enough rest 

This isn’t a superset or a drop set so “rest between sets to give the muscles a rest before you add on extra weight,” says Faye. You want to give your body all the chance you can to handle the extra load and complete your set with the best form. 

Pyramid set bent over rows

Stick with the classic pyramid set for bent over rows. This ensures your form is perfect as you work up to the heavier weight. 

Set 1: 12 reps

Set 2: 10 reps

Set 3: 8 reps 

Set 4: 6 reps 

Pyramid set squats

Reverse pyramid sets work great for squats, as you can load the legs with the hardest weight while you still have energy in the tank. Start with a goblet squat and, when you’re comfortable with the system, try a barbell.  

Set 1: 6 reps

Set 2: 8 reps

Set 3: 10 reps

Set 4: 12 reps

Pyramid set Romanian deadlifts

Why not try adding in a diamond pyramid system for your RDLs? This will tire out the muscle by working your way both up and down. Your hamstrings will be on fire, so save this for the end of your workout. 

Set 1: 12 reps

Set 2: 10 reps 

Set 3: 8 reps

Set 4: 10 reps

Set 5: 12 reps

Check out the How To library for 100s of bodyweight moves that’ll strengthen and lengthen every muscle in your body.

Images: Getty

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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