Pyramid Sets - 50 Exercises, 12 Weeks, 1 Transformed Body - Yours!

Yes, your body adapts to change. No, you don't need to constantly add new, awkward lifts to your workout. Use classic lifts, vary the reps and weight, and you'll get great results!

Calling all overwhelmed newbies: you want real muscular development and real results? Well, you can stop watching infomercials - the latest high-tech machines are just pulleys, straps and broken promises you do not need.

You can get Marine Corps arms, MMA-champion legs and superhero abs from 50 basic exercises.

No, I'm not a quack, and I didn't say 500 exercises, just 50. If you combine them correctly and implement one top-secret weight-training strategy, these 50 classic lifts will transform your body. What's the secret weapon? Pyramid sets.

If you're just starting out, don't let the terminology turn you off. Pyramid sets work like this: start your first set with a weight that allows you to complete 12-to-15 repetitions of the movement. With your second set, choose a heavier weight that allows you to only complete 10 reps. Finally, on your third set, choose an even heavier weight with which you can only complete 8 reps.

Pyramid sets are instinctual. With every set you'll get more pumped and want to push yourself even further. So it makes sense that you'll reach for a slightly heavier weight.

By the time you get to your third set of deadlifts, you might only make it to 8 reps while still using the same weight as your second set. The whole point of pyramid sets is to force yourself into new territory and demolish your muscles. No matter what weights you use, complete the recommended number of reps per exercise.

I combined 50 basic exercises into 12 weeks of workouts which will change your life. It's the easiest program you'll ever follow AND it's the most effective, especially for beginners.

There are 6 simple rules to read first, and then 3 phases of workouts. You will follow each phase for 4 weeks. There's nothing much else to say about this program, except it works. And after 12 weeks, you might need a new wardrobe to fit your new muscles.

Rule 1: Warm up before you start lifting weights.

Option 1: Choose 5-to-10 minutes of moderate cardio such as a light jog, stationary bike or classic calisthenics (jumping jacks, high knees, push-ups, dips, jump squats, etc.).

Option 2: Do one set of an exercise for each body part you work each day. Use a weight you can lift with light to moderate strain and do 15-to-20 reps. For example: on your chest/biceps/triceps day in the gym, perform one set of dumbbell bench press, one set of dumbbell biceps curls and one set of seated overhead dumbbell triceps extension. Complete these sets with little to no rest before you start your workout.

Rule 2: Focus on exercise form.

It's not organic chemistry or a heart transplant, but in the world of fitness, form is just as critical to survival in the gym. The basics are: don't swing the weights, isolate the correct muscles for each exercise and remember to breathe.

Rule 3: Workout with a partner or ask someone to spot you.

Training with a partner is not only safer, but ten times as fun and one-hundred times as effective. You'll end up pushing yourself harder and breaking down the caution tape around your safety zone. Working harder=better results, instantaneously.

Rule 4: Rest up.

You should lift heavy enough that you want to take a break, but don't abuse your rest periods between sets. You shouldn't need to rest longer than 90 seconds between sets, but try to keep it to 60 seconds.

Rest days are your other chance to recover. Use them wisely, eat well and let your muscles recover. Recovery is the foundation of muscle development.

Rule 5: Do cardio 3 times per week for 25-to-30 minutes.

It's your choice of cardio, moderate or interval training. Try to separate cardio sessions from your weight training workouts, because you'll want to have max energy when you work with iron.

Cardio Queen: She breaks a sweat, it breaks your heart.

Rule 6: Get your diet in the zone.

Even as a beginner, you know deep down that diet is going to be a critical factor to get the results you want. So, get in the zone. Eat mostly natural foods. Have a meal or snack every 3 hours. Keep sugars low. Increase your clean protein intake from chicken, turkey, protein powder and fish. Balance each meal or snack with vegetables, fruits, whole grains/complex carbs, protein and healthy fats.

That is a traditional healthy diet. Calorie counting isn't as important with this workout plan because it's not a strict fat-loss program. When you eat clean, unprocessed foods, you can actually eat more and avoid fat gains.

Phase 1: Gentlemen (and Ladies), Start Your Engines

Duration: 28 days
Workout Split: 3 days per week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Repetitions: Pyramid sets, reps vary
Rest: 90-second maximum rest between sets

Monday: Chest/Triceps/Biceps/Abdominals

Chest:

  • Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip Barbell Bench Press - Medium Grip

    Flat Barbell Bench Press

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Triceps:

  • Triceps Pushdown Triceps Pushdown

    Triceps Pushdown

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps

Biceps:

  • Standing Barbell Curl Standing Barbell Curl

    Standing Barbell Curl

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps

Abdominals:

  • Exercise Ball Crunch Exercise Ball Crunch

    Exercise Ball Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps


Tuesday: Rest
  • Optional Cardio Optional Cardio

    Optional Cardio

    25-30 minutes
Wednesday: Back/Shoulders/Abdominals

Back:

  • Bent-Over Barbell Row Bent-Over Barbell Row

    Bent-Over Barbell Row

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Pull-Ups Pull-Ups

    Pull-Ups

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Shoulders:

  • Seated Barbell Shoulder Press Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

    Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Exercise Ball Crunch Exercise Ball Crunch

    Exercise Ball Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps


Thursday: Rest
  • Optional Cardio Optional Cardio

    Optional Cardio

    25-30 minutes
Friday: Quads/Hamstrings/Calves/Abdominals

Quads:

  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    Barbell Squat

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps

Hamstrings:

  • Straight-Leg Deadlift Straight-Leg Deadlift

    Straight-Leg Deadlift

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps

Calves:

  • Standing Calf Raise Standing Calf Raise

    Standing Calf Raise

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps

Abdominals:

  • Exercise Ball Crunch Exercise Ball Crunch

    Exercise Ball Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps


Saturday/Sunday: Rest
  • Optional Cardio Optional Cardio

    Optional Cardio

    25-30 minutes

Phase 2: Switch into High Gear

Duration: 28 Days
Workout Split: 4 days per week - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
Repetitions: Pyramid sets, reps vary
Rest: 90 seconds maximum rest between sets

Monday: Back/Abdominals

Back:

  • Bent-Over Barbell Row Bent-Over Barbell Row

    Bent-Over Barbell Row

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Cable Row Cable Row

    Cable Row

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Pull-Ups Pull-Ups

    Pull-Ups

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

    Hanging Leg Raise

    3 sets of 15-20 reps


Tuesday: Shoulders/Triceps/Abdominals

Shoulders:

  • Seated Barbell Shoulder Press Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

    Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Barbell Upright Row Barbell Upright Row

    Barbell Upright Row

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Triceps:

  • Close-Grip Bench Press Close-Grip Bench Press

    Close-Grip Bench Press

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

    Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Exercise Ball Crunch Exercise Ball Crunch

    Exercise Ball Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Twisting Raise Hanging Twisting Raise

    Hanging Twisting Raise (shown without twist)

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
    Twist at your waist from side to side at top of the motion.


Wednesday: Rest
  • Optional Cardio Optional Cardio

    Optional Cardio

    25-30 minutes
Thursday: Quads/Hamstrings/Calves/Abdominals

Quads:

  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    Barbell Squat

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Leg Extension Leg Extension

    Leg Extension

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Hamstrings:

  • Straight-Leg Deadlift Straight-Leg Deadlift

    Straight-Leg Deadlift

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Lying Hamstring Curl Lying Hamstring Curl

    Lying Hamstring Curl

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Calves:

  • Donkey Calf Raise Donkey Calf Raise

    Donkey Calf Raise

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Leg Press Calf Raise Leg Press Calf Raise

    Leg Press Calf Raise

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Rope Crunch Rope Crunch

    Rope Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

    Hanging Leg Raise

    3 sets of 15-20 reps


Friday: Chest/Biceps/Abdominals

Chest:

  • Flat Barbell Bench Press Flat Barbell Bench Press

    Flat Barbell Bench Press

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Incline Bench Press Incline Bench Press

    Incline Bench Press

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Biceps:

  • Standing Barbell Curl Standing Barbell Curl

    Standing Barbell Curl

    3 sets of 12, 10, 8 reps
  • Seated Barbell Preacher Curl Seated Barbell Preacher Curl

    Seated Barbell Preacher Curl

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Twisting Raise Hanging Twisting Raise

    Hanging Twisting Raise (shown without twist)

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
    Twist at your waist from side to side at top of the motion.


Saturday/Sunday: Rest
  • Optional Cardio Optional Cardio

    Optional Cardio

    25-30 minutes

Phase 3: Fire-up the Nitro Jets

Duration: 28 Days
Workout Split: 4 days per week, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday
Repetitions: Pyramid sets, reps vary
Rest: 90 seconds maximum rest between sets

Monday: Back/Abdominals

Back:

  • Barbell Deadlift Barbell Deadlift

    Barbell Deadlift

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Cable Row Cable Row

    Cable Row

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Pull-Ups Pull-Ups

    Pull-Ups

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldown Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

    Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Exercise Ball Crunch Exercise Ball Crunch

    Exercise Ball Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Twisting Raise Hanging Twisting Raise

    Hanging Twisting Raise (shown without twist)

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
    Twist at your waist from side to side at top of the motion.


Tuesday: Shoulders/Triceps/Abdominals

Shoulders:

  • Seated Barbell Shoulder Press Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

    Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Barbell Upright Row Barbell Upright Row

    Barbell Upright Row

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps
  • Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise

    Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Triceps:

  • Barbell Triceps Extension Barbell Triceps Extension

    Barbell Triceps Extension

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

    Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extension

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Rope Crunch Rope Crunch

    Rope Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Leg Raise Hanging Leg Raise

    Hanging Leg Raise

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Twisting Raise Hanging Twisting Raise

    Hanging Twisting Raise (shown without twist)

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
    Twist at your waist from side to side at top of the motion.


Wednesday: Rest
  • Optional Cardio Optional Cardio

    Optional Cardio

    25-30 minutes
Thursday: Quads/Hamstrings/Calves

Quads:

  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    Barbell Squat

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Leg Press Leg Press

    Leg Press

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Dumbbell Lunge Dumbbell Lunge

    Dumbbell Lunge

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps
  • Leg Extension Leg Extension

    Leg Extension

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Hamstrings:

  • Straight-Leg Deadlift Straight-Leg Deadlift

    Straight-Leg Deadlift

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Seated Leg Curl Seated Leg Curl

    Seated Leg Curl

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Calves:

  • Standing Calf Raise Standing Calf Raise

    Standing Calf Raise

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Seated Calf Raise Seated Calf Raise

    Seated Calf Raise

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps


Friday: Chest/Biceps/Abdominals

Chest:

  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

    Flat Dumbbell Bench Press

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Incline Bench Press Incline Bench Press

    Incline Bench Press

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    Incline Dumbbell Flyes

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps
  • Push-Ups Push-Ups

    Push-Ups

    3 sets of to failure

Biceps:

  • Standing Barbell Curl Standing Barbell Curl

    Standing Barbell Curl

    4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps
  • Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl

    Standing Dumbbell Hammer Curl

    3 sets of 15, 12, 10 reps

Abdominals:

  • Exercise Ball Crunch Exercise Ball Crunch

    Exercise Ball Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
  • Hanging Twisting Raise Hanging Twisting Raise

    Hanging Twisting Raise (shown without twist)

    3 sets of 15-20 reps
    Twist at your waist from side to side at top of the motion.


Saturday/Sunday: Rest
  • Optional Cardio Optional Cardio

    Optional Cardio

    25-30 minutes

CURVEBALL:

Spice up your scheduled training with this full-body circuit.

Perform 1 set of 10-to-12 repetitions for each exercise with no rest in between. Once you complete all 10 exercises, rest for 2-to-3 minutes and repeat the circuit 2 more times.

Full-Body Circuit
  • Incline Bench Press Incline Bench Press

    Incline Bench Press

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Bent-Over Barbell Row Bent-Over Barbell Row

    Bent-Over Barbell Row

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Barbell Shoulder Press Barbell Shoulder Press

    Barbell Shoulder Press

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    Seated Dumbbell Side Lateral

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl

    Seated Incline Dumbbell Curl

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Triceps Dip Triceps Dip

    Triceps Dip

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Barbell Squat Barbell Squat

    Barbell Squat

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Straight-Leg Deadlift Straight-Leg Deadlift

    Straight-Leg Deadlift

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Standing Calf Raise Standing Calf Raise

    Standing Calf Raise

    1 set of 10-12 reps
  • Bicycle Crunch Bicycle Crunch

    Bicycle Crunch

    1 set of 10-12 reps

Your Muscles Crave Evolution

An effective workout program doesn't have to be confusing or crammed with hundreds of different exercises. You can continue using the same 50 exercises for as long as you continue to lift weights. The key to results is changing your routine at the gym and creating a new challenge every day. That's why pyramid sets work so well to help you achieve your goals.

The fitness industry may have evolved over the years, but one thing doesn't change: Weight training is absolutely necessary for a knock-out physique.