The Bench Press Pyramid Workout

The Bench Press Pyramid Workout

If there was a list of exercises that everybody knows, I'd imagine the bench press would be near the top. The bench press is popular for helping to build strength in the chest, triceps, deltoids, and more.

It also happens to be one of my favorite exercises too! As you may already know, the bench press is one of the best strength building exercises there is. What you may not know is that there are different strategies you can use to build strength in a bench press.

One of these strategies is known as a bench press pyramid workout. It can be a great way to structure your approach to bench pressing as a whole.

With this method, you can challenge your muscles and work toward a bigger, stronger bench press. So, if building strength or even building muscle is your goal, stick around! Bench press pyramid workouts can be a great way to keep making progress toward your goals.

Let's start with what I'm sure many of you are wondering: what is a bench press pyramid workout?

What Is A Bench Press Pyramid Workout?

Bench press pyramid workouts are a specific structure for your reps and sets in a bench press. There are also different styles when it comes to pyramid workouts. This often involves increasing the weight you use while decreasing the reps you do, or vise versa. You'll see what I mean shortly.

Ultimately though, it's a method for progressing the strength of your bench press. On top of that, it can also be a good strategy for building up your chest, shoulder, and tricep muscles.

Let me preface this: I wouldn’t encourage you to try out a bench press pyramid workout unless you’ve been training for some time or are comfortable. You'll need to have an idea of what your 1 rep max is. As a beginner, attempting a 1 rep max is not something you realistically should be shooting for.

Now, a lot of people will refer to these workouts as pyramid sets. This makes sense too because it's a way to structure your sets over the course of your bench press workout. But as I mentioned, there are different ways to do this. So, let's get into each of the ways you can structure a bench press pyramid workout.

Types of Bench Press Pyramid Workouts

While there may be more, there are 3 popular structures for a bench press pyramid workout. Each of them can be an excellent way to build strength too!

Before you dive into them, just make sure you warm up. With any strength training workout, it's best to make sure your body is ready to go.

Descending Pyramid

In a descending pyramid, your first set will start with heavy weight and low reps. Each set after that, you will decrease the weight and increase your total rep count.

This can be a great way to focus on building muscle endurance. You exert a lot of energy and power on the first part of the pyramid with the heavier weights. As you continue, you'll be taking on lighter loads, but also with more fatigue in your muscles.

Now, the number of sets you do in total is completely up to you and your goals. However, I'll give you an example of what this could look like if you were to do 5 sets.

Sets 1 & 2 1-5 Reps at 85-100% 1RM
Sets 3 & 4 6-12 Reps at 75-85% 1RM
Set #5 Until Failure at 50-70% 1RM

Ascending Pyramid

In an ascending pyramid, your first set will start with lighter weight and higher reps. Each set after that, you will increase the weight and decrease your total rep count.

In theory, this could be a great way to warm up to push some really heavy weight. Most of the time, you'll see people reserve themselves. They do this so they have the energy necessary once they get to the heavier-weight sets. This could help them work up to their one, two, or even three-rep max.

In fact, this is normally what I'll do for my bench press pyramid workouts. I'll give you another example of what this could look like with 5 total sets. This could be an attempt for a new 1-Rep maximum.

Set #1 12-20 Reps at 50-70% 1RM
Sets 2 & 3 6-12 Reps at 75-85%
Set #4 3 Reps at 90% 1RM
Set #5 1 Rep at 100+% 1RM

Triangle Pyramid

Triangle pyramids are a combination of ascending and descending. You can probably even picture what this looks like too! Basically, you'll start with lighter weight and higher reps and start ascending. On the back half of the pyramid, you'll start lowering the weight and increasing the reps once again.

This can be a "best of both worlds" scenario. You work up to using heavy weight, then finish in more of a muscular endurance/hypertrophy (muscle building) fashion. This is arguably the most popular way to do a bench press pyramid workout.

To give you an idea of what this would look like, here's an example 5-set layout for a 3-Rep maximum.

Set #1 12-20 Reps at 50-70% 1RM
Set #2 6-12 Reps at 75-85%
Set #3 1-5 Reps at 85-100% 1RM
Set #4 6-12 Reps at 75-85%
Set #5 Until Failure at 50-70% 1RM

Now that you understand how bench press pyramid workouts work and what they can look like ... You may be wondering: "Are there any benefits to structuring my bench press routine this way?" Let's get into that next.

Benefits of Bench Press Pyramid Workouts

There are many benefits that can come along with pyramid workout programs. Many of these benefits are a big reason why I choose to throw them into my training regimen!

Variation In Training Stimuli

Pyramid workouts contain a variety of different weight and rep ranges. Because of this, these workouts can help train multiple muscular adaptations.

At lighter weights and higher reps, you can maximize muscle endurance.

At moderately heavy weight and a moderate number of reps, you can maximize muscle growth and hypertrophy.

At heavy weight and low reps, you can maximize muscular strength.

In a bench press pyramid workout, you can incorporate one, if not multiple sets, to focus on each of these areas. So really, you're giving your body a full spectrum of stimuli to adapt to.

Achieving Progressive Overload 

Pyramid workouts are designed to help you increase weight over time. This is one of the main benefits that come along with choosing this style of workout. As you increase your weight over time ... You are achieving progressive overload.

This basically means, you are giving your body new stress to adapt to. Well, this is essential for muscular adaptations such as strength and muscle growth!

Now, you don't have to do this through weight alone either! You could also try adding more reps or sets. Either way, you are creating more overall volume. Increasing this volume over time is ultimately what can help you make progress.

However, that's also assuming you are doing the right things for nutrition and recovery! Just putting that out there as well.

1st Phorm Post Workout Stack

Plateau Breaking 

Bench press pyramid workouts can be very effective in helping you when you are stuck. I definitely find this to be true for myself. When I do the same things over and over, it can be hard to make progress.

With bench press pyramids, again, it can be easier to achieve progressive overload. This can help you break through a plateau and get to that next level in no time!

One Last Tip With Bench Press Pyramid Workouts 

Bench press pyramid workouts can be a great way to take your bench press to the next level. They can help to improve your strength, endurance, and so much more.

However, switching up your workout alone can only take you so far.

Reaching your goals and earning the results you're after isn't just limited to what you do in the gym. In fact, I'd argue most of the progress you make is outside of the gym.

Yes, your workouts play a critical role in your results. At the same time, so does your nutrition, recovery, and much more.

At 1st Phorm, our mission is to help real people like you and me earn real and long-term results. That's whether it's building strength, improving your bench press, losing body fat, or anything in between.

If you're having a hard time reaching your goals and getting the results you truly want ... That's where we can help! We understand how many different variables go into reaching your health and fitness goals. It can seem like a complicated process!

That's why we offer the ultimate all-in-one tool to help simplify the process of earning results. That tool is the 1st Phorm App!

Not only does the app give you full workout programs catered to your specific goals, but also so much more. Inside the app, you'll get access to:

• A certified personal trainer and nutrition coach (sometimes a dietitian) to coach you every day in the app

• A custom nutrition plan and an easy way to log your food to stay on track

• 5x per week live streams about nutrition, training, and supplementation

• Activity and step-counting software

• Progress tracking and body metrics to make sure you get the results you're after

Want to look and feel your best and continue to make progress? All you have to do is download the 1st Phorm App and get started now!

If you have any questions or need help in the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches right here in St. Louis, Missouri. Just give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or send us an email at any day from 6 AM to 10 PM Central.

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