The Great Pyramid at Giza is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The pharaoh Kufu chartered its construction in the Fourth Dynasty (that's around 2560 B. C). The 480 foot tall pyramid took almost twenty years to build using approximately one hundred thousand men and it consists of more than 2 million stone blocks each weighing upward of 2 tons.
The horizontal cross section of the pyramid is square at any level, with each side measuring 751 ft. in length. The maximum error between side lengths is astonishingly less than 0.1%. Modern engineering cannot fathom how such a magnificent structure was built with the primitive technology that was available 43 centuries ago.
As I have mentioned on the site before in addition to bodybuilding I am very passionate about my interests in politics and history but the corollary here is probably more appropriate than even before. Although the road to a championship bodybuilding physique does not require effort anywhere near that of making a building of such magnificence.
The need for intelligence and tenacity through arduous labor is needed as much in bodybuilding as it was in the project of the great pyramid. In both areas a strong foundation is needed to support the prospective work ahead.
The training technique of pyramiding weights is one of the best to use in bodybuilding whether you have been training for months, years or 43 centuries (had to get that one in there). It's purpose is to allow the muscles to be prepared for heavy training with low reps, the type which has been lauded for ages as one of the most productive in gaining strength and muscle size.
In a training pyramid a bodybuilder uses light weights and high repetitions to lay the foundation or, in this case, induce blood into the involved muscle groups and connective tissue as a means to prepare for the heavy low rep work. Most of us do this to some extent when we perform warm-up sets but here it is different; whereas most people take the early sets to failure you will wait until the apex of the pyramid to do that.
Most trainees perform light warm up sets and then attempt a heavy weight for 8-12 reps on the first set. While this is an acceptable practice, training with heavier weights and lower reps (say 4-7 reps) allows you to bomb the deep muscle fibers which are responsible for growth.
Here Is A Sample Pyramid To Use:
- 135 lbs for 12 reps
- 185 lbs for 10 reps
- 205 lbs for 7 reps
- 225 lbs for 4-5 reps
- Optional 175 lbs for 12-15 reps
Ok lez say ya doin' the lifting population's favorite lift-- da bench press! A sample pyramid would be:
Here the first and second sets lay the foundation of the pyramid - they are with lighter weights and the sets are not taken to muscular failure. The final 2 sets are with heavy weights and low reps and they represent the apex (the 48th story on the great pyramid so to speak).
In general you should use 60 percent of your 1 rep max on the first set, then about 70 to 75 percent on the second set and finally 80 and close to 90 percent on the last 2 sets. For a skin stretching pump you might opt to reduce the weight and complete a set with a lighter weight and more reps.
Not only does this practice bolster strength and size gains, it also is the most viable way to lead up to an ultra heavy set of 6 reps or less. Take the weights I used above. If you were to have completed 12-15 reps with 185 lbs your reps would be nowhere near 7 reps with the 205 pound barbell because your energy would have been depleted and you would be lucky to get 3 or 4 reps.
I am not denouncing the use of higher reps since they (like all training techniques) can be helpful at times. But if ya primary objective is strength and size (as it should be most of the time if your are a hard training bodybuilder) then I urge you to use power pyramiding as I have outlined.
Now you cannot always workout like an Egyptian. I mean that certain exercises are more conducive to pyramiding than others. The dynamic compound movements are the most ideal since, in most cases they afford you leverage which allows you to safely control the weight, and the involve many muscle groups at one time.
Other exercises which do not allow such leverage such as Biceps Curls, Lateral Raises, Chins and Pull-ups, and Triceps Extensions require strict motions since gravity is more of a factor. With these exercises you should aim for a reverse pyramid. If you have read any of my other articles you will know that I like this a lot. With a reverse pyramid you attack the heavy weights first when you are fresh and when you are able to fight gravity more.
A Sample Of A Reverse Pyramid For Wide Grip Chins:
- 30 lbs attached on a weight belt for 6-8 reps
- 25lb plate attached for 6 reps or so
- 2 sets using just my bodyweight aiming for 8-10 reps or until failure.
* Warm-up on a lat machine with 150 lbs for 10 reps
Exercise List For Both Categories
Use the power pyramid on Squats, Leg Presses, Smith Machine Squats and Stiff Legged Deadlifts. Note that since the legs have many endurance muscle fibers some prefer higher reps. A pyramid of 20, 15, 10 and 8 reps might be preferred especially on movements like the Leg Press.
Use on Bench Presses, Incline Barbell Presses (at various angles) and Dips.
DELTS AND TRAPS
Barbell Cheat Curls are the only really good candidate for biceps here and I suggest you only do them once in a while. Triceps movements like the Close-Grip Bench Press and Dips are good too.
Use on Leg Extensions, Leg Curls and Calf Movements. Again higher reps are generally used ranging from as low at 10 reps and as high as 30 on Calves.
Use on Chins, Barbell Rows, Unsupported T-bar Rows, Lat Pulldowns.
I suggest using reverse pyramid on all biceps and triceps exercises.
Hopefully after reading this your body will be on its way to the magnificence elicted by the Great Pyramid...and it will only take one man an no where near 20 years. -PLEASE E-MAIL ANY AND ALL QUESTIONS TO firstname.lastname@example.org