The PT Pyramid is a standard workout routine for military personnel and law enforcement organizations. It uses set variations to help soldiers and other trainees increase their conditioning levels and muscle stamina through the combination of three basic exercises, usually Pull Ups, Push Ups, and Sit Ups. The point is to have a complete workout including a warm up, max rep set, and cool down all at once, with no rest during the routine.
I've found that this set is an ideal finisher for workouts, a "Happy Ending" if you will, especially for large group boot camp sessions. You can also include a kettlebell exercise (or exercises if you want to be mean) to increase the intensity.
The Standard PT Pyramid
The standard format starts with 1 rep of exercise 1, 2 reps of exercise 2, and 3 reps of exercise 3. The next step (with no rest in between) is 2 reps of exercise 1, 4 reps of exercise 2, and 6 reps of exercise 3. Each set thereafter will increase by 1 rep for exercise 1, 2 reps for exercise 2, and 3 reps for exercise 3, ending at 6 reps of exercise 1 before descending back down through the sets. This graphic can help you understand:
Here is a standard PT Pyramid Workout:
Set 1: 1 pull ups/2 push ups/3 sit ups
Set 2: 2 pull ups/4 push ups/6 sit ups
Set 3: 3 pull ups/6 push ups/9 sit ups
Set 4: 4 pull ups/8 push ups/12 sit ups
Set 5: 5 pull ups/10 push ups/15 sit ups
Set 6: 6 pull ups/12 push ups/18 sit ups
Set 7: 5 pull ups/10 push ups/15 sit ups
Set 8: 4 pull ups/8 push ups/12 sit ups
Set 9: 3 pull ups/6 push ups/9 sit ups
Set 10: 2 pull ups/4 push ups/6 sit ups
Set 11: 1 pull ups/2 push ups/3 sit ups
The PT Pyramid Multiplier Variation
During some past kettlebell training boot camps, a lot of the workouts finished with what we liked to call a "Happy Ending." The Happy Ending is basically a killer conditioning set completed in 4 to 8 minutes after a standard 30-40 minute high intensity kettlebell workout. The PT Pyramid Multiplier Variation utilizes the same ascending and descending rep scheme of the standard PT Pyramid, with a little twist: rather than increasing the reps for each set by 1, 2, and 3, the PT Pyramid Multiplier Variation DOUBLES the amount of reps for each exercise. For this variation, you don't do 6 sets before descending, but only 4 or 5 instead.
Here is a PT Pyramid Multiplier Variation Happy Ending set that utilizes Double Clean & Presses, Push Ups, and Sit Ups:
Set 1: 1 Double Clean and Press/2 Push ups/3 Sit ups
Set 2: 2 Double Clean and Press/4 Push ups/6 Sit ups
Set 3: 4 Double Clean and Press/8 Push ups/12 Sit ups
Set 4: 8 Double Clean and Press/16 Push ups/24 Sit ups
Set 5: 4 Double Clean and Press/8 Push ups/12 Sit ups
Set 6: 2 Double Clean and Press/4 Push ups/6 Sit ups
Set 7: 1 Double Clean and Press/2 Push ups/3 Sit ups
The advantage of the PT Pyramid Multiplier Variation is that you still get a crap load of conditioning- building reps for each exercise, you can incorporate weight in the first exercise in each set, and you complete the entire thing in under 10 minutes. I recommend you only use weight in the first exercise, otherwise your form will start to rapidly deteriorate by the third or fourth sets.
So, take this and go kick some ass (or your own if so desired).
Mark de Grasse is the owner of MyMadMethods.com, My Mad Methods Magazine, and My Mad Methods Productions. In addition to being a certified trainer specializing in kettlebells and bodyweight training, Mark is also the chief editor and designer of both the website, magazine, and My Mad Methods Productions DVDs. Find out more.
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