Training under a calisthenics plan is a great way to teach your body how to build lean muscle mass as well as functional strength!

One of the best programs within calisthenics is the pyramid training program.

Everyone approaches their workout differently, from intense gym sessions to hit the park for some pull-ups and sit-ups, there’s an approach for everyone that suits their body style and fitness goals.

Pyramid training can be tweaked to fit anyone’s lifestyle and is easily adaptable to your favorite programs and your overall goals!

No training program is complete without a supplemental diet as well!

If you’re looking to lose weight or build muscle mass, you’ll need to stick to the training regimen and supplement your program with an appropriate diet.

Lastly, before you jump in with pyramid training, be sure that you’re able to handle the exercises.

What is Pyramid Calisthenics Training?

Pyramid training is a great way to work past a plateau in your workout or mix up your workout when you’ve hit a dead zone.

As the simplest explanation, pyramid training is just a stepped approach when it comes to sets and reps!

You’ll start with the biggest amount at the bottom and narrow it up to the smallest sets at the top. When it comes to weights, you start with the heaviest loads first and work toward the lighter ones.

When you’re doing calisthenics, you’ll start with the exercise with the most reps first and then progress toward the one with the fewest.

Pyramid training works on the same concept as any other type of overload system: create enough stress on the muscles and you’ll get stronger and bigger!

These are usually simple workouts that factor in your body weight and progress toward greater progressions in the simple calisthenics moves.

Pyramid Training Types

There are several different pyramid training types that all work in different ways to affect your body and strength.

Ascending pyramids start by increasing the weight and decreasing the reps for each set. These start with a lightweight for each move and more than 10 reps then goes down to the heaviest weight that you can comfortably do for only 4-6 reps.

Descending pyramids decrease the weight with each set and increase the reps. You’ll start with your heaviest comfortable weight for 4-6 reps and then decrease until you’re doing 12-16 reps on your final set.

Triangle pyramids have you doing both the ascending and descending pyramids so you’ll be doing a lot of work with this one!

You’ll end up doing around 7 sets of a particular exercise starting with low weight and high reps, peaking at a heavyweight and low reps then going back down to lightweight and high reps.

Classic Pyramid Training Routine

This is one that’s been utilized by the military and calisthenics enthusiasts alike!

You’ll start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down so factor that into the overall time you’ll need to finish the workout.

Classic pyramid training routines go through pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and dips.

This is usually done in the triangle pyramid type and as you go through it multiple times a week you’ll find that it gets easier with each repetition.

Burpee and Run Pyramid

Ah, burpees! The bane of every workout fanatics’ existence! But they work wonders when it comes to building lean muscle and creating a healthier lifestyle so don’t shirk this pyramid when you’re trying to get fit.

Often used as a warm-up to other workouts, this burpee, and run pyramid takes it out of you but can be done anywhere from the gym to the park.

You’ll need a short place to run then do one burpee at the start of the circuit, run the short distance, do two burpees, run back and do three, continuing the circuit until you finish 10.

The ultimate goal when it comes to burpee and runs pyramids is to make your way up the ladder from 1 to 25 which will end up having you do 325 by the end. You’ll feel the burn when you push through this workout.

Elliptical Pyramid

You’ll need some equipment for this one, specifically a bike or an elliptical. Start by riding at level 1 with your manual mode on for 1 minute and keep your RPM’s right at 80-100. As each minute goes by, increase the resistance by a full level.

As you increase, you’ll notice your muscles starting to burn and your breathing may start to become labored.

Once you reach a point where you can’t hang on any longer, stop and work your way back in reverse order. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you can go all the way up to level 20 without needing a break!

The overall workout should take you 39-40 minutes once you reach level 20.

Pull-Up and Burpee Pyramid

A classic of calisthenics workouts, the pull-up can be easily added to your workout and your workout equipment to take your pyramid training to a new level.

You’ll use the same basic workout program as the burpee and run pyramid described above but you’ll add the pull-up bar.

Start with 1 pull-up at the beginning, then a short run, then two pull-ups, a run, and so on until you reach up to 20 at your maximum. This will likely take a lot of practice!

Once you master that many pull-ups you can start going through the progressions toward a one-arm pull-up or other variations to make it more difficult in your training.

Reverse Running Pyramid

This pyramid may be simple but it isn’t easy! You’ll start this pyramid by running a repeat distance, usually about a quarter of a mile.

Start by running this quarter-mile in two minutes the do a light stretch and walk about 100 meters. You’ll then repeat the same stretch of run in 1 minute and 50 seconds, repeat the stretch and walk, then they run at 1 minute and 40 seconds.

Keep doing this until you’re running a 1-minute quarter mile!

This will take some serious training so don’t be disappointed if you can’t get your time down the first time you do the pyramid.

Once you reach that 1-minute quarter-mile by doing the pyramid, you’ll be consistently running 3-4 miles of intervals!

Swimming Pyramid

Ready to hit the pool? This swimming pyramid is a great option to get your heart rate going and start getting fit!

This is also a good option if you’re a regular swimmer and just need something different to do when you hit the pool.

Often, this is done as a reverse pyramid with the longest swim-up first starting at 500 meters.

You’ll swim this length then tread water for a few minutes then do the 400-meter swim, then tread, then the 300-meter swim, and so on until you’ve finished the pyramid.

Pyramid Training With Running

Whatever type of pyramid you decide to do, adding in a run is a great way to increase your running pace.

When it comes time to do the 5th set of your pyramid, add in a mile run. Once you finish the run, return to the pyramid where you left off at sets 6-10.

Many people who add in a run on the 5th set find that they make it even higher up the pyramid than they had before.

Maximize Your Results

Just like with any exercise program, there are ways to maximize your results to hit your fitness goals more accurately.

Keep these in mind as you’re working out and pushing toward your overall goals!

Warm-Ups are Important

There’s a reason warm-ups happen at the start of every workout that’s listed and coached.

Take the time to warm up with light stretching, a jog, or some swimming or other low-impact workout. This gives your body time to get your blood pumping and flowing to all of your extremities.

These warm-ups also go a long way toward preventing injuries during your more intense sections of workout so don’t skip them, even if you’re tired!

Cool-Down Routine has Impact

Just like warm-ups are important, cool-downs are vital as well!

Your blood is pumping, your heart is racing, and your muscles are screaming but taking the last few minutes of your workout to walk, jog, swim, or do some stretching is a great way to keep yourself from straining or cramping.

Cool-downs are the bridge between your high-intensity workouts and the rest of your daily life.

Just Start Swimming!

Calisthenics is all about bodyweight and working without much equipment.

But when it comes to pyramid training, swimming can be a great way to get your heart pumping and keep things low-impact with high results.

Swimming also makes a great cool-down or warm-up after your regular pyramid training schedule.

Understand the Limits

Pyramid training is intense. Before you dive into the new routine, it’s best to know your limits and what your body can handle.

If you need to, keep your pyramids short and work your way up as you go through the training routine.

If all you can make it to is the third set, work on that until you’re ready to move on to the next round!

Your body is sending you signals when you’re working out so stop to listen to what it has to say before you push yourself too far and get hurt.

Not a Daily Routine

This is a seriously intense type of workout and therefore shouldn’t be done on a daily!

Keep this to a once or twice-a-week workout that is intense by design.

Work your regular workouts around training for this pyramid training and work on your runs, pull-ups, dips, and swimming times so you can do these pyramids more easily.

These are serious calorie-burning workouts so you’ll need to keep this in mind when you’re planning for your week so you can adequately fuel your body for the pyramid ahead.

Keep your pyramid workouts to a minimum in your schedule so you don’t strain your body or muscles while trying to reach the peak!


Calisthenics training programs are intense and are easy to do wherever you are and require very little equipment to accomplish.

Pyramid training workouts are a great calisthenics program that is high-intensity and designed to help you push your body to the max.

There are several pyramid training programs for you to choose from that will help you reach your health and fitness goals!

While you can’t do this training program every day as it is highly intense, there are elements you can incorporate into your program to help prepare your body for this eventual weekly workout.

You can stick to the classic pyramid training routine or mix it up with running, burpees, and even swimming pyramids that give you lots of variation to choose from.

These let you choose the amount of workout you do and give you a clear line to build up toward when you’re practicing each of the calisthenics moves.

Pyramid training makes for an intense cap to your week but is a good way to judge how far you’ve come to help you get over a plateau! Plus, no actual pyramids are needed to complete this workout!

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