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Bench Press Pyramid – What Is It, How To Do It, and Frequent Errors

Bench Press Pyramid – What is it, How to do it, and Common mistakes

A typical method to constructing quantity in your bench press is to carry out bench press pyramids. Whereas the identify is considerably descriptive of what this system appears like, it’s not completely self-explanatory.

So what’s a bench press pyramid? The bench press pyramid is a collection of units and reps for a single train that will increase in weight whereas lowering reps or decreases in weight whereas rising reps in every set.  This mannequin places the lifter by means of extra quantity than the usual heat up/working set mannequin.

Past the definition, there’s additionally the query of whether or not or not a pyramid method to lifting is any good or if it’s particularly best for you and your objectives. Let’s dive into these components so you possibly can decide whether or not or not you must add bench press pyramids into your coaching.

What Is A Bench Pyramid?

The underside line is {that a} pyramid set is a gaggle of working units the place the load will increase and the reps lower with every progressing set, the load decreases because the reps improve, or a mixture of each. As you would possibly guess, this mannequin might be utilized to any raise.  

Past simply the rep/load relationships, there are three varieties of bench press pyramids you can program into your exercises, relying in your objectives and preferences.  

Sorts of Bench Pyramids

types of bench pyramids

Three pyramid fashions exist for the bench — ascending, descending, and full pyramid, typically known as triangles. Nonetheless, as you visualize these fashions, you notice calling them “pyramids” will not be completely correct exterior of the traingle or full pyramid mannequin. 

Once we visualize ascending or descending pyramid fashions, it plots out on a graph to look extra like stairs going up and to the correct or stairs taking place and to the correct. Solely the triangle mannequin appears like a pyramid going up after which down. 

You also needs to be aware that the phrases “ascending” and “descending” are referring to the load, not the variety of reps.

An ascending pyramid begins with lighter weight/larger reps and will increase the load as you scale back the reps. A descending pyramid begins with heavy weight/decrease reps and reduces the load when you improve the reps per set. 

The triangle, or full pyramid, begins with ascending weights after which instantly continues with descending weights again down. 

Every of those pyramid schemes can be utilized at your discretion and based mostly in your coaching objectives and preferences. 

You may additionally be questioning if there’s a profit to doing excessive reps of bench press. We cowl that intimately in 5 Advantages Of Excessive Rep Bench Press (Science-Backed).

4 Advantages of Bench Pyramids

4 benefits of bench pyramids

4 foremost advantages stand out to me as I consider bench press pyramids:

  • Extra quantity
  • Elevated work capability
  • Hypertrophy, power, and weight reduction functions
  • Flexibility

1. Extra Quantity

Any lifter that has exhausted their beginner positive factors and has been coaching constantly for a number of years might want to improve their quantity to proceed to see outcomes. As your physique adapts to coaching, it merely requires extra coaching quantity to make a distinction.  

Quantity is simply math — it’s the product of reps x load per rep. So in case your ordinary weekly bench exercise requires 10 bench reps (whatever the breakdown of units) with 225lbs on the bar for every rep, you carried out 2,250lbs of quantity.

However let’s say you probably did 10 reps with an empty bar (450lbs complete), then 10 reps with 135 (1,350lbs complete), then 10 reps with 185 (1,850lbs complete) as heat ups. Your complete bench quantity is definitely 5,900lbs. 

To additional break it down, let’s check out how a lot bench quantity you might accumulate in a standard exercise:

Examine that with a full bench pyramid, illustrated beneath: 

By doing the pyramid as a substitute of your ordinary program, you’ve carried out 9,550lbs of bench quantity. 

It is a nice method so as to add extra quantity, particularly if you end up too fatigued to carry out extra units with a heavy load. By rising the reps as you lower the load on the again finish of the pyramid, you accumulate extra quantity whereas rising your probabilities of avoiding an harm

Growing your bench press quantity might be particularly helpful when you’re going by means of a plateau. Try another methods to interrupt by means of a bench press plateau in 9 Ideas To Break Via A Bench Press Plateau.

2. Elevated Work Capability

A key factor of profitable resistance coaching, in any self-discipline, is figure capability. Put merely, it’s your means to maintain intense coaching over a given time frame.

Your physique can solely adapt to the stress or stimulus you possibly can placed on it. The higher your work capability, the extra stress and stimulus you possibly can put in your muscle mass and the extra they develop, for power or measurement. 

It received’t take you lengthy into your first try at a pyramid set to appreciate it’s onerous. That first time will undoubtedly be tough. However by performing these units constantly, your physique will adapt, which is a profit you possibly can carry into different areas of coaching.

With this newly developed work capability to get by means of onerous pyramid units, think about how one can channel that into the remainder of your coaching.

3. Hypertrophy, Power, and Weight Loss Functions

Bench pyramids are relevant to the three foremost causes we raise — constructing new muscle, strengthening our muscle mass, and dropping pounds. 

In case your aim is to construct extra muscle, bench pyramids are an awesome instrument. By including the additional quantity that comes with the pyramid mannequin and consuming in a caloric surplus, you’re following the precise recipe for rising muscle — extra quantity and extra meals.

If power and efficiency is your focus, bench pyramids are equally helpful to you. Not solely do they give you the wanted added quantity to make your muscle mass stronger, they give you extra alternatives to observe good kind and bench press method, that are key for making max effort makes an attempt. 

Lastly, if you’re lifting to reduce weight, the bench pyramid is a incredible method. As a result of the bench press is a compound raise, it makes use of multiple muscle group to finish the raise. You may study extra in our full information on the muscle mass used within the bench press.

Utilizing a number of main higher physique muscle teams, mixed with the excessive quantity of the pyramid mannequin and along with a caloric deficit, you might be able to see weight reduction. You may even push issues tougher by shortening your relaxation time between units over time.

If getting leaner is your aim, try our information on powerlifting for fats loss.

4. Flexibility

Though we’re targeted on the bench press pyramid on this article, you possibly can apply this identical method to different compound lifts, just like the squat or deadlift, in addition to remoted lifts like biceps curls. 

If you end up in want of extra quantity however can’t consider extra bench press workouts to try this goal the precise space you’re targeted on, attempt throwing in a pyramid, whether or not it’s ascending, descending, or full triangle. 

Most of the examples I present later on this article present massive pyramids, with 10+ complete units. You may as well customise the dimensions of a pyramid to be as little as 3 ascending, descending, or triangular units.

One other means so as to add extra quantity to your coaching with out including in a bunch of latest workouts is to attempt back-off units, which we cowl in Again Off Units: How To Use Them The Proper Manner.  

4 Drawbacks of Bench Pyramids

4 drawbacks of bench pyramids

As with something, there are two sides to the coin. Just a few drawbacks come to thoughts as I consider bench press pyramids:

  • Restoration and fatigue
  • Threat of harm
  • Coaching specificity
  • Totally different stimulus

1. Restoration and Fatigue

Simply write out a bench pyramid and have a look at it and it’s gonna kick your butt. That’s the reality.

This can have an effect on the quantity of different coaching you are able to do in that very same exercise. Relying on the dimensions/size of your pyramid, this might doubtlessly take up your total bench exercise for the day. If you happen to’re used to performing different chest/bench-related workouts after your bench units, you may be in for a shock if you don’t have the power to do them after a pyramid. 

Secondly, the bench pyramid can fatigue you past this exercise and have an effect on your restoration/power ranges for different exercises that week. Whilst you will not be coaching higher physique the subsequent day, you may not be as recent and recovered as you usually can be, which impacts your means to coach with depth. 

Lastly, when you prepare bench pyramids usually, like as a part of a full 4-8 week coaching block, you’ll doubtless expertise compounding fatigue over the weeks and months that may have to be addressed. You might must plan deload weeks extra incessantly than you used to with a purpose to tackle the accrued fatigue. 

Whereas none of those are deal-breakers for incorporating pyramids, they’re price your consideration going into it. 

Whether or not or not you incorporate bench press pyramids, you’ll have to be conscious of how usually you bench press. Try How Many Occasions Per Week Ought to You Bench Press? for tips about methods to discover your very best bench press frequency.

2. Threat of Damage

Damage turns into extra doubtless if you’re fatigued or if you’re unable to take care of good kind and method. Fatigue goes to hit if you’re doing bench pyramids, and fatigue results in your kind falling aside. This implies you have to be cautious and conscious of the danger of harm when performing these units. 

Pay attention to your fatigue ranges, it doesn’t matter what kind of pyramid you’re working by means of. Document your units and evaluate them for kind breakdowns or different data earlier than your subsequent set. Have a spotter or buddy watch as properly. 

The vast majority of accidents I’ve encountered in my years of powerlifting all come if you least count on it, normally when doing submaximal units. The instances after we get careless, suppose the whole lot goes to be simply positive, get lax with our kind or method, or ignore indicators of fatigue are the identical instances we’re closest to getting harm.

If you end up extraordinarily drained to the purpose that it’s considerably affecting your efficiency, you might profit from a full week off from coaching somewhat than a deload.

3. Coaching Specificity

To proceed my factors in regards to the added fatigue and restoration time that bench pyramids could cause, pyramids may take away from different areas you could prepare. 

For instance, if you’re spending all of your power on an enormous bench pyramid, you doubtless haven’t any power to do different bench-related equipment. If you could concentrate on different areas than simply your bench press in its customary kind, you might not need to spend all of your power there proper now.  

When you have a necessity to deal with an remoted muscle, like your triceps, or another areas exterior of simply the bench, the bench pyramid shall be a distraction from these. You may be higher off performing some bench press work after which placing extra focus and power into the opposite areas that want your consideration. 

Questioning what different workouts you are able to do alongside along with your bench press coaching? Try What Else Ought to I Do on Chest Day?

Who Ought to Do Bench Pyramids

who should do bench pyramids

Whereas there are doubtless many, many teams that will profit from bench pyramids, there are three teams I need to spotlight as nice candidates for them:

  • Rookies
  • Low season lifters
  • Lifters targeted on weight reduction


For inexperienced persons, there are three nice causes to coach your bench within the pyramid mannequin.

The primary is that your physique will adapt and get well quicker than those that have been at it for some time, so you possibly can bounce again from these intense units extra shortly and preserve pushing onerous.

Secondly, as a result of the bench is a compound raise, these units will work muscle mass you don’t even know you may have and construct an excellent basis for the long run.

Lastly, all the quantity that comes with these units means numerous alternatives to observe your kind by means of numerous repetition.  

The bench press pyramid combines all three of those nice advantages without delay, supplying you with an awesome bang on your buck, so to talk. 

Off-Season Lifters

You might take pleasure in coaching in powerlifting, CrossFit, and even bodybuilding. In every case, there’s an low season when you may have an opportunity to construct and enhance in your final aggressive consequence. 

The low season is the time when aggressive lifters in any self-discipline can step away from the specificity of their sport to depend on basic bodily preparedness (GPP) coaching to be extra ready for the subsequent spherical of competitions forward. 

I actually like bench pyramids for low season lifters as a result of the high-volume nature of the pyramid supplies the wanted stimulus to develop new muscle or strengthen what’s there. The excessive quantity additionally permits the lifter to enhance their work capability earlier than starting an intense sport-specific coaching block, and descending pyramids might be included to keep away from heavy masses whereas protecting the depth excessive. 

Whether or not you’re an intermediate or superior power athlete, this generally is a nice method to your low season. 

If you happen to’re in search of extra methods to coach throughout your low season, I wrote a whole low season powerlifting program that you could be need to try.

Lifters Targeted on Weight Loss

I’m an awesome instance of how an individual can reduce weight by means of resistance coaching, so I’m an enormous fan of this profit proper right here. I misplaced almost 40lbs with out doing a minute of cardio by coaching in a means much like this. 

If you bench, you’re employed a number of massive muscle teams in your higher physique, not simply your pecs. The extra muscle mass you’re employed, the extra energy you burn when you do it. After your exercise, your physique works to rebuild these muscle mass. The extra muscle mass you labored, the extra energy your physique burns in restoration.

As you construct extra muscle, your physique has to burn extra energy simply to take care of that muscle mass, at the same time as you sit and sleep and transfer round. This implies you burn extra energy every day.

If you return to the gymnasium to bench once more, you may have much more muscle to construct and preserve, which means you’re burning extra energy in your exercise than you probably did in your first ever bench exercise.

If you combine all of that with a caloric deficit, you may have an ideal recipe for weight reduction! And over time, all that elevated caloric expenditure means you possibly can eat greater than you probably did earlier than and nonetheless preserve the load off. 

With that mentioned, vitamin will nonetheless be an vital consider each your efficiency and your physique composition. There are a number of explanation why you shouldn’t eat no matter you need, even when you’re in the course of a troublesome powerlifting coaching block.

Who Ought to NOT Do Bench Pyramids

who should not do bench pyramids

In fact there are some lifters I’d not advocate bench press pyramids to. They embrace:

  • Lifters with completely different wants
  • LIfters on one other coaching program
  • Lifters who hate bench pyramids

Lifters with Totally different Targets

I touched on this earlier, however if in case you have a selected aim to enhance your tricep power or look, your shoulders, or one other space of your physique completely, you in all probability shouldn’t do bench pyramids. Concentrate on the instant objectives you may have at the beginning. 

I can consider many nice advantages to benching and benching lots. However we aren’t at all times chasing these advantages, so we have to apply the correct program to succeed in our objectives as a substitute of spinning our wheels on areas we aren’t targeted on. 

Outline your objectives and resolve if bench pyramids are actually a instrument to get you there or when you can stash it for later software. 

Questioning if bench presses are sufficient to strengthen or add muscle mass to your triceps? Get our knowledgeable opinion in Is Bench Press Good Sufficient For Triceps?

LIfters on One other Coaching Program

Plainly put, if you’re already following a program like Juggernaut AI or Greyskull LP, keep it up. You’ll by no means get anyplace hopping from program to program when you don’t follow something lengthy sufficient to see the outcomes. 

Bench pyramids are nice, they usually’ll nonetheless be right here later in your life. When you have already dedicated to a unique coaching program, see it by means of earlier than making modifications.  

Individuals Who Hate Bench Pyramids

All of us must take pleasure in train if we need to do it for an prolonged time frame. Most of you studying this have gravitated to resistance coaching since you prefer it greater than different methods to train. 

The identical logic applies to the pyramid mannequin of coaching units. If you happen to prefer it, nice! Use that as added incentive to coach usually by placing it into your program. If you happen to hate it, don’t do it! You don’t must make coaching tougher by programming one thing you don’t take pleasure in. 

That mentioned, most of us would profit from doing the kind of coaching we keep away from essentially the most. So test in with your self and decide when you ought to keep away from one thing completely, or when you’re simply being a wimp and must suck it up and do the factor you hate. 

How you can Program a Bench Pyramid

how to program a bench pyramid

As I regarded across the web to see how others method the bench pyramid, I largely see materials about utilizing it as a curveball or a strategy to drastically change your programming for every week. 

The best way I see it, the bench pyramid has extra worth when utilized like some other program. To see outcomes, program it for 4-8 weeks, progress it over time, and preserve it intense sufficient to drive a consequence by adjusting the load, reps, and units.   

You may evaluate my instance beneath for reference, however be at liberty to regulate your plan by altering the load, reps per set, or complete units. You may even change 2-3 at a time when you’re sensible about it. 

Within the beneath instance, the lifter has a 1-rep max of 315lbs on the bench press. Based mostly off that 1RM, this pyramid begins with a heavy set of 71% of max for 2 reps (2 units). Within the second week, it will increase to 77% for 2 reps (1 set). The third week introduces 84% for a single rep (1 set), and this system peaks within the fourth week with that very same 84% for a double rep (1 set). 

You may plug in your personal 1RM with these basic percentages to see how your masses would look on this program. 

This system steadily progresses over the 4 weeks to point out a rise in quantity of 17%, from 9,550lbs to 11,190lbs of complete quantity. This improve in quantity is meant to be lower than excessive to permit the lifter to steadily adapt. 

Week 1

The primary week introduces the pyramid. Each the ascending and descending parts of the pyramid are similar. This week might be repeated in week 2 earlier than persevering with to the subsequent stage of this system when you really feel it was too tough to be progressing. 

Week 2

Week 2 begins the identical as final week, however the descending portion of the pyramid now requires masses barely heavier than these on the ascending portion of the pyramid, rising the full quantity.  

Week 3

On this week, we preserve the identical descending portion of this system however add a further set within the center — a single rep with 84% of 1RM earlier than starting the descending portion. 

Week 4

Lastly in week 4, the center set that was launched in week 3 turns from a single rep right into a double rep earlier than descending in the identical sample as we’ve over the past 2 weeks. 

If you happen to wished to proceed this program for an additional 4 weeks, my advice can be to make the upper descending weights your new ascending weights and plug them into the Week 1 mannequin. This represents only a 5% improve from week 4 and a 23% improve in complete quantity from week 1. 

Hypothetical Week 5

The plan can be to repeat the unique 4-week plan, however begin with these larger weights and progress from there. You’ll want to look at your self and thoughts your fatigue and ranges of exertion to ensure you can maintain every following week and make changes accordingly. 

Further Programming Assets

About The Writer

Adam Gardner

Adam Gardner is a proud resident of Utah, the place he lives together with his spouse and two youngsters. He has been competing in powerlifting since 2016 in each the USPA and the APF. For the previous three years, he and his spouse, Merrili, have coached starting lifters to study the basics of powerlifting and compete of their first powerlifting competitions.



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