Pyramid method: maybe you were using the wrong weights!

19-03-2018
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You have to take your time when it comes to proper warmup. But watch out, doing too much of warmup can make you lose your gains. You can't start your workout with working sets: you have to start with warmup sets.


If the warmup is too short, you don't prepare your muscles – plus your nervous system and your joints, ligaments – for the upcoming stimulus, and if the warmup is too long, you will get tired before you even started your real workout.

Most of us usually start resistance training with light weights and we slowly increase the workload until we reach the so-called working sets. We call this the Pyramid method. Sounds familiar? Let's see how to carry the method out badly.

Too long warmup

Chest day, flat bench chest press with dumbbells. Let's say 30 kgs is your 8 Rep Max (8RM) for instance. I guess the first exercise of your workout looks like this:

  • 15 easy reps with 12 kgs (first warmup set)
  • 20 kgs, 12 reps (seconds warmup set)
  • 25 kgs, 8-10 reps (first working set)
  • 28 kgs, 8 reps (second working set)
  • 30 kgs, 6-8 reps (last working set)

How close was I? If very close, then this is exactly what we would call too long warmup. This is an efficient way to warm up your joints and muscles, even your nervous system, but it will make you exhausted at the same time.

How to do it right

Try using lighter weights in your first warmup set. Take an 8kgs dumbbell, leave your ego behind, and do 20 reps. Do not increase the size of the weights at your second warmup set, but lower the number of reps with 5. Right here you should feel that you have warmed up, and you don't hear cracks here and there coming from your joints. In your first working set choose a weight you can perform with 80% of your 8RM (24 kgs in this example).

Here's the catch!

In the second working set choose a weight that is 20% bigger than your 8RM. Take that 36kgs dumbbell hard, and get to work! You don't have to perform 10 reps. Do only 3 or 4 reps, but do not reach failure here, because with that you would exhaust yourself at the first exercise of your workout.

Okay, now you're ready to do your 8RM, the 30 kgs. In the first two warmup sets, you have wasted little energy, you probably didn't get tired in your first two warmup sets neither, but you have prepared your nervous system for the stress.

Important to note that this Pyramid method can differ from the "normal" method because this was the warmup. At the following parts of your workout, you don't have to do this, you can start with working sets right away because your chest is already on fire.

Try it out and let us know what you've learned!


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