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Pyramid Upper Body Workout

This upper workout following workout offers an intense upper body challenge by using the pyramid method of training:  Increasing your weight and reducing your reps for each set of your exercises.  With this type of training, you start with 12 reps, choosing a weight that you can ONLY lift 12 times (the last rep should be very difficult, but not impossible).  For each set, you'll increase your weight and reduce your reps, ending with the heaviest weight you can lift for 8 reps.  It may take time to determine the right weight for each set, so keep a journal to track your weights each week.  Advanced exercisers may want to increase intensity by doing the optional sets described below.  I've included sample weights for each set, but these are only to give you an idea of how to change your weights, so modify according to your fitness level.

Precautions
See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed
An exercise ball, a bench or step, a barbell with various weighted plates and various weighted dumbbells

How To
  • Warm up with light cardio or warm up sets of the exercises
  • For each exercise, choose a light, medium and heavy weight and perform each set in the following format:
    Set 1 - 12 reps, light weight
    Set 2 - 10 reps, medium weight
    Set 3 - 8 reps, heavy weight
  • If you're advanced or want more intensity, you can do triangle pyramids, which involve both ascending and descending pyramids:
    Set 1 - 12 reps, light weight
    Set 2 - 10 reps, medium weight
    Set 3 - 8 reps, heavy weight
    Set 4 - 10 reps, medium weight
    Set 5 - 12 reps, light weight
  • For each set, choose enough weight that you can ONLY complete the assigned number of reps
  • Rest for 30-60 seconds between sets and exercises

Exercise

Sample Sets and Weights

Incline Chest Press
Incline Chest Press
Set 1 - 12 reps, 15 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 20 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 25 lbs
Chest Fly
Set 1 - 12 reps, 12 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 15 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 20 lbs
One-Armed Row
Set 1 - 12 reps, 15 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 20 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 25 lbs
Dumbbell Pullover
Set 1 - 12 reps, 15 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 20 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 25 lbs
Bent-Arm Lateral Raise
bentarmlat3.jpg (16418 bytes)
Set 1 - 12 reps, 8 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 10 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 12 lbs
Alternating Overhead Press
Set 1 - 12 reps, 8 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 10 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 12 lbs
Barbell Curls
Set 1 - 12 reps, 20 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 25 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 30 lbs
Alternating Bicep Curls
Set 1 - 12 reps, 12 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 15 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 20 lbs
Close Grip Bench Presses
Close Grip Bench Press
Set 1 - 12 reps, 20 lbs
Set 2 - 10 reps, 25 lbs
Set 3 - 8 reps, 30 lbs
Tricep Extensions
kickback1.jpg (15023 bytes) kickback3.jpg (15769 bytes)
Set 1 - 14 reps, 5 lbs
Set 2 - 12 reps, 8 lbs
Set 3 - 10 reps, 10 lbs
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