Pyramid training is as old as the hills and has been written about in all the major muscle magazines since the dawn of ironman. Basically you do your first set of an exercise light for a lot of reps then increase weight each set and decrease reps until you end up somewhere around your max for the day. For example: Set 1: 45lbs(empty bar)x15. Set 2: 95×10. Set 3: 135×8. Set 4: 185×6. Set 5: 225×4. Set 6: 275×2. Set 7: 300×1. This is a good basic way to train for beginners and intermediates. It allows practice with the lighter weights, plenty of warming up and a good solid heavy weight at the end. The pyramid system has been criticized as crossing too many intensity zones and it has been suggested that staying within 10% of your targeted intensity zone will yeild better results. Depending on what your goals are this may or may not be true.
If your goal is to get as maximally strong as possible it may be smarter not to waste too much time on your warm up sets and focus more on weights 85% or closer to your max. If you are focusing on speed it may be better to do multiple sets with 50-60% of your max explosively. However, if you are trying to get a solid combination of size and strength this is a great system. Lets take a look at 2 ways it can be used:
1. Traditional way: Add a couple pounds to the max set at the end and plan your weights on the way up accordingly using the original example (45×15 95×10 135×8 185×6 225×4 275×2 300×1) as workout one the next workout would be planned with 305 or 310 as the top set and would look something like this: 45×15 95×10 135×8 185×6 225×4 275×2 305×1.
2. Building the base. Now what if you’ve been training a while and 300 may or may not fall on a good day. What if you miss 305 continually? Well you could narrow the base so you would have more strength left over for your top set and maybe you would hit 305 and 310 maybe even 315. Something like this: 45×10 95×5 135×3 185×2 225×1 275×1 305×1 easy! Next workout repeat and hit 310 then the next repeat and hit 315! After a few workouts you will stall. Now what? Now we go back and start building the base. workout number 1 may be 45×15 95×12 135×10 185×8 225×6 275×3 300×1 see how we added just alittle bit of work to the sets on the way up and ended at our old max of 300? Next workout would be 45×20 95×15 135×10 185×8 225×6 275×4 300×1. Were still keeping the top set at 300 but slowly increasing the work we are doing before it. This can be done because none of those sets were an all out effort to begin with. Next workout would be 45×20 95×15 135×12 185×10 225×8 275×4 300×1. The next may be 45×20 95×15 135×12 185×10 225×8 275×5 300×2. The next may be 45×20 95×15 135×12 185×10 225×8 275×6 300×3. Then the inevitable comes and you miss 275 on the way up because the last workout took too much out of you and you didn’t heal and come back stronger. It looks like this: 45×20 95×15 135×12 185×10 225×8 275×4 and failed on the 5th one. So you end it there and come back a week later and narrow the base up like this: 45×10 95×5 135×5 185×5 225×5 275×5 300×4-and you PR with 300×4 because now you aren’t burned out from the earlier sets. The next workout you go 45×10 95×5 135×5 185×5 225×3 275×3 300×5-and PR again on 300 for reps because you further narrowed your base. The next workout you could come back and do 45×10 95×5 135×5 185×3 225×2 275×1 300×1 325×1 for a new max PR! Next time you come back and do 45×10 95×5 135×5 185×3 225×2 275×1 300×1 330×1 another PR! Maybe you could hit one or 2 more weeks with a new max if you are lucky. Let say your final max looks like this: 45×10 95×5 135×3 185×2 225×1 275×1 315×1 340×1 and you know for sure you wont hit another max next week. You just start back wideing the base with 315 as the new top. This method works great for beginners and intermediates that aren’t real close to their potential. It also works good for advanced guys as long as they are careful not too push too hard and get overtrained. The added bonus is if you pay attention and keep accurate notes you will learn a lot about how your body responds to various rep schemes and how long your strength cycles should last when considering future workouts.
Train smarter and harder!
Your ultimate diet is about what works for your lifestyle and what you are willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals. You must ask yourself what your goal is and what its worth. If you weigh 300lbs and HAVE to eat ice cream every night to be happy, weighing 200 with rippling abs may not be worth the sacrifices you have to make. Conversely, if you weigh 150lbs fully clothed and soaking wet and hate eating you may want to think twice about your dream of winning ESPN’s “World’s Strongest Man” contest. Life is give and take. You need to figure out how much effort you are willing to give and how much crap you are willing to take! Let’s assume your goal is to get as lean as possible and it’s worth giving up eating your nightly twinkies after finishing off a bottle of wine because nothing will ever taste as good as walking down the beach with a 6 pack on your waist instead of in your cooler will ever feel.
99% of our foods should be found in nature and be as close to their natural form as possible…..
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Next time you train legs try finishing with 2 sets of car pushes. An suv works best because its a little higher. Get someone to steer. For the first set put your butt against the back of the car so you are pushing backwards. Try and go at least 100 feet-300 would be better. For the second set push it normally with your hands on the bumper. Make sure your good and warm fist. If you are in awesome shape try and go as fast as possible. If not start off slow for your first few times until your body gets conditioned to it then start picking up the pace. If you put your heart and soul into it its definitely a puker!