Workout of the Week: Minimal Equipment Pyramid 1-20

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Knutson, 60th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist performs arm curls in the Nose Dock Gym Oct 11, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The new gym at Building 844 was facilitated through existing base funds, equipment donations and volunteer work by the 60th Mission Support Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heide Couch)

This pyramid is rather challenging, especially if you do the same exercises every set, but with the added variety it makes the 210 repetitions received in this workout (20 sets of 1 to 20 added together) much more doable and much less monotonous.

Here is how the workout looks (each section explained below)

1-20 Step Pyramid with Cardio Every 5 Sets:

Run 1 mile or bike 10 min (cardio option of your choice)

1,2,3,4,5: pull-ups, db Thrusters, KB Turkish Get Ups

Run 1 mile or bike 10 min (cardio option of your choice)

6,7,8,9,10: pull-ups, bicep/military press (x1-2), Squats (x1-2)

Run 1 mile or bike 10 min (cardio option of your choice)

11,12,13,14,15: pull-ups, knee-ups, Lunges / leg

Run 1 mile or bike 10 min (cardio option of your choice)

16,17,18,19, 20: push-ups, abs of choice, arm haulers

1-20 PT Pyramid Explained:

Start off with a 1-mile run or some form of cardio for 10 minutes.

Sets 1-5: Do 1 pull-up, 1 DB Thruster (squat / overhead press movement), and try a Turkish Get-Up. The Turkish Get-Up is something that takes slow and methodical practice. It’s best not to hurry with this movement. If you have exercise time, consider this full body movement. You can do this with a kettlebell or dumbbell. Keep your weight light.

Then do 2 of each exercise, then 3 of each exercise, 4 of each exercise and 5 of each with minimal (if any rest). Once you reach set 5, you will move to another set of exercises after a round of cardio (run or non-impact options).

Sets 6-10: 6,7,8,9,10: pull-ups, Bicep/military press (x1-2), Squats (x1-2)

Do 6 pull-ups, either match or double the reps of pull-ups with the next two exercises bicep/military press and squats. Bicep/military press is just a bicep curl that flows into an overhead press – so two exercises rolled into one movement. If you want to double the other two exercises the next sets will look like this:

7 pull-ups, 14 bicep/military, 14 squats (with or without weight), then

8 pull-ups, 16 bicep/military, 16 squats (with or without weight)

9 pull-ups, 18 bicep/military, 18 squats (with or without weight)

10 pull-ups, 20 bicep / military and 20 squat exercises. After these five sets, you take a short cardio break (1 mile or 10 min cardio) and move onto the next set of exercises and reps.

Sets 11-15: 11,12,13,14,15: pull-ups, knee-ups, Lunges / leg

This cycle is a tough one and will total over 100 total pull-ups (1-15 sets), so use assisted options during this cycle if needed (pull-downs, rows, assistance bands, jumping pull-ups, etc). Then match the numbers with knee-ups and lunges / leg.

11 pull-ups, 11 hanging knee-ups, then 11 lunges per leg

12 pull-ups, 12 hanging knee-ups, then 12 lunges per leg

13 pull-ups, 13 hanging knee-ups, then 13 lunges per leg

14 pull-ups, 14 hanging knee-ups, then 14 lunges per leg

15 pull-ups, 15 hanging knee-ups, then 15 lunges per leg

After 11-15, Run 1 mile or bike 10 min (cardio option of your choice)

The final round of five sets will be easier exercises for the higher repetitions required of the 16-20 sets.

Sets 16-20: 16,17,18,19, 20: push-ups, Abs of choice, arm haulers

This last round requires very little movement as you will be horizontal for the entire time. Do the following:

16 push-ups, 16 abs of choice, 16 arm haulers

17 push-ups, 17 abs of choice, 17 arm haulers

18 push-ups, 18 abs of choice, 18 arm haulers

19 push-ups, 19 abs of choice, 19 arm haulers

20 push-ups, 20 abs of choice, 20 arm haulers

This is a creative way to produce a high volume workout, but diversified so you can handle the volume of the workout for a particular muscle group.

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