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gabrielle_of_poteidia

Pyramids - suggested increments?

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I've got my new routine from my trainer this week, and she's got me on pyramids! Eek!

 

Essentially I'm doing simple lifts for legs, chest, back, shoulders, biceps and triceps, and doing single sets of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. Week one is mostly me getting a feel for it, and figuring out where my starting point should be. I've got a couple of my exercises bang on first time (steady increases, and really feeling it on that final step), and feeling pretty pumped over the weight I managed to lift for those singles.

 

My confusion is how much I should be looking at "stepping up" the weight by on each set, particularly for the larger muscle groups like my legs and back. The leg press and lat pull down machines both offer the options of 2.5 kg increments, but I feel these are too small and I'm potentially going to wind up either starting too low and never getting to a point where the top weights are really pushing me, or I'm going to start too high to compensate and wear myself out of the higher rep. Today it was definitely the former - I could have gone heavier.

 

Does anybody have experience of this kind of training? Should I keep the low start weight and increase each set by more (such as 5kg increments) so as to really push the limits on those top steps, or just raise the starting weight? Are there advantages to either?

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9 hours ago, gabrielle_of_poteidia said:

Does anybody have experience of this kind of training? Should I keep the low start weight and increase each set by more (such as 5kg increments) so as to really push the limits on those top steps, or just raise the starting weight? Are there advantages to either?

 

So to simplify, progress is driven by the number of hard, high quality sets (sets where you could not have done many more reps, BUT your form didn't break down dramatically). But obviously there's a limit to how much you can do without impacting  your recovery or feeling awful. So the trick is to pick weights that will be moderately hard given the number of reps you've chosen. Although it depends on how many lifts you're doing and how many times per week you're training, people often do 3-6 hard sets on their main lifts. I guess my intuition would be to go for 3 warm-up sets and 5 hard sets per lift (since the last couple of sets are super low-rep). But pick what suits you.

 

So your trainer didn't give you any hints for what weights to use? Well, I guess you could use percentages of your max, if you know what it is. Otherwise, you could use RPE (rate of perceived exertion, measured by how many more reps you could have done when the set is finished). Suppose you wanted to do 3 warmup sets and 5 hard sets. For the 10, 8 and 6-rep sets you could pick something up to 50% of your max, but not more. Or using RPE you could pick a weight you could do while still leaving at least 2-3 reps "in the tank" (i.e., you could do 2-3 more if you tried hard). Then for the 5, 4, 3 and 2 rep sets you could increase the weights until you were approaching your max (going from 80% to 90%, I guess), or alternatively using RPE just pick weights you could do for those numbers while leaving 1or 2 reps in the tank. Then you could pick something extra challenging like a new weight for the 1-rep set if you felt up to it, or just repeat the same weight as the double if you didn't. 

 

These are just some ideas, you'll have to play around to see what works for you. Also, I personally wouldn't choose to do heavy singles or doubles for pulling exercises (like lat pull-downs) or accessories... I would only do that for bench, squat, deadlift and OHP. Not sure how others feel about this but I like to keep pulls and accessories moderate weight, moderate rep.

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On 10/4/2019 at 8:19 AM, gabrielle_of_poteidia said:

I've got my new routine from my trainer this week, and she's got me on pyramids! Eek!

She should also be able to help give you some guidance in terms of weights. Honestly, I'd just figure out your max weight for each rep count, and then use 85-95% of that, assuming short break periods. Spend a day on each lift, and just play around until you get a feel for how much you need for each set to feel it - it may not be a linear progression in weights, and that's ok!

 

On 10/4/2019 at 6:16 PM, Harriet said:

Also, I personally wouldn't choose to do heavy singles or doubles for pulling exercises (like lat pull-downs) or accessories... I would only do that for bench, squat, deadlift and OHP. Not sure how others feel about this but I like to keep pulls and accessories moderate weight, moderate rep.

No reason not to do heavy work for pulls. Most people don't, but that's generally because most lifters don't prioritise pull/posterior work in the first place - no reason why you can't though, it's not like it's more dangerous or less effective than doing the same with traditional powerlifting movements. I'm not a big fan of pyramid training in general, but you should follow your trainers' guidelines if she's led you in progress thus far!

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Hi guys,

 

Just wanted to check in and say thank you for the input.

 

On ‎10‎/‎5‎/‎2019 at 1:16 AM, Harriet said:

Well, I guess you could use percentages of your max, if you know what it is. Otherwise, you could use RPE (rate of perceived exertion, measured by how many more reps you could have done when the set is finished). Suppose you wanted to do 3 warmup sets and 5 hard sets. For the 10, 8 and 6-rep sets you could pick something up to 50% of your max, but not more. Or using RPE you could pick a weight you could do while still leaving at least 2-3 reps "in the tank" (i.e., you could do 2-3 more if you tried hard). Then for the 5, 4, 3 and 2 rep sets you could increase the weights until you were approaching your max (going from 80% to 90%, I guess), or alternatively using RPE just pick weights you could do for those numbers while leaving 1or 2 reps in the tank. Then you could pick something extra challenging like a new weight for the 1-rep set if you felt up to it, or just repeat the same weight as the double if you didn't. 

 

On ‎10‎/‎7‎/‎2019 at 10:31 PM, Defining said:

Honestly, I'd just figure out your max weight for each rep count, and then use 85-95% of that, assuming short break periods. 

 

I think you both hit the major flaw in my process. I was kind of floundering a little because I didn't know what my max was (the main reason she put me on pyramids was to prompt me to find this out and get the associated confidence boost). So, rather than keep going at it with 'guess work' and try and figure it out the long way, I decided to put my little notebook aside and just work through the sets at a low starting weight, and then just keep going up on single reps until I hit failure. Then I counted backwards from there to find a start point.

 

I used increments relative to muscle group size, so 7.5kg increments for legs, 5kg increments for back, 2.5 for chest, 1kg biceps and shoulders, 1.25 kg for triceps.

 

I'm pretty pleased, as I have since increased some of those max weights over the past 3 weeks:

  • On Wednesday I benched 30kg for the first time, and my next aim is 35kg (half my bodyweight)
  • I also hit 125kg on my leg press (woot!). Would like to hit 140kg on this (2x bodyweight)
  • 10kg dumbbells for shoulder press. I think I could go heavier but the next one up is 12.5 and this feels like a huge leap.
  • and 10kg dumbbells for biceps (hammer curls).

 

Others have remained a little more stable:

  • I managed 50kg on the lat pulldown 2 weeks ago, but the machine didn't have the option of increments smaller than 7.5 kg (I had to start on the lightest weight option they had and then couldn't increase the weight anymore after the 3 rep setting.). I have since switched to the assisted pullup machine. Pullups are a major goal for me so this is a great one for that. I understand the machines work slightly differently, but I have yet to break past the 20kg offset on this, so I guess I'm plateauing at 50kg for now.
  • 31.3kg on tricep pushdown.

I'm actually pretty pleased with how it's all worked out. Finding out that maximum has proved to be the key to the whole thing. Thanks again guys.

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On 11/1/2019 at 6:53 AM, gabrielle_of_poteidia said:

I'm actually pretty pleased with how it's all worked out. Finding out that maximum has proved to be the key to the whole thing.

 

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