A Biceps Pyramid Workout
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Pyramid workouts add variety and a new challenge to a stale routine. If you've been using the same bicep routine for awhile and you aren't seeing results, it is no doubt time to change. A pyramid workout challenges your biceps with heavy weights and light weights, high reps and low reps. This gives you greater benefits than exercising with only one method, such as always using heavy weights and low reps.
The first step to performing a pyramid workout for the biceps is to choose an appropriate exercise. Resistance band curls or chinups are not appropriate because you cannot make minute changes to your intensity. Dumbbell curls, Olympic bar curls or incline curls are all effective bicep exercises that fit into a pyramid scheme. Each of the exercises isolates the biceps and allows you to change your weight by very small amounts, either by going up to the next dumbbell weight or by adding a small weighted plate to each end of the bar. The exercise you choose should be one you can do with perfect form. Though if you don't own an Olympic bar or an incline bench, then bicep curls may be the best choice simply by process of elimination.
Biceps are a small muscle in comparison with the other major muscles of the body. Therefore, weight increases are more dramatic for bicep exercises than say for the legs, back or chest. A 2-lb. increase for a bench press or squat is hardly noticeable, but that might make all the difference in your bicep exercises. If, for example, you're doing 12 bicep curls with 10 lbs. and then you use the 12-lb. dumbbells instead, you shouldn't be able to complete the 12 repetitions. You have to do fewer reps even from only a small weight increase. Generally, an increase or decrease of 2.5 to 10 percent in weight works well for pyramid sets.
A pyramid workout uses multiple sets per session. On each set, you increase the weight and on some sets you decrease the repetitions. An example is to perform 15 incline curls at a weight that feels light for you. On the second set, increase the weight to the most you can use for 15 reps. On the third set, increase the weight again, but only perform 12 reps. For the next set, lower your reps to eight and increase the weight again. For the final set, stay with eight reps and increase the weight a final time.
Pyramid workouts are effective for growing larger muscles and for muscular endurance training. Hypertrophy workouts build large biceps. Muscular endurance training makes your biceps able to contract many times in a row. Use the higher end of the scale for repetitions to increase muscular endurance, such as 12 and above. Lower repetitions from 12 and under are more likely to increase the size of your biceps.
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.