The science behind high volume pyramids vs pyramid down only. I don't get it.

Discussion in 'Kettlebell' started by guardian7, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. guardian7

    guardian7 Double-Digit Post Count

    Does anyone know what is the actual science behind high volume pyramid programs with a kettlebell that include both up and down pyramids and often start with 5 reps for the press?

    I don't really understand why you would not just warmup and then do a set to technical almost failure, not muscular failure, pyramid down and then decrease a bell size down as your reps decrease so your can keep similar levels of volume. Why should I do 5432112345 etc. when I can do 76543 lighter bell 543 etc. If you started your sets with a couple of sets to almost technical failure and then added pyramid volume later then it would make more sense to me. You would get the benefits of both intensity and volume with similar massive time under tension of pyramids.

    I don't see the science for pyramiding up and down except time under tension but it does not seem optimal from an exercise science point of view. I am sold on the neurological benefits of not going to muscular failure however from reading Pavel's work.
  2. Bro Mo

    Bro Mo Strong Member of the Forum

    Your first example has 30 reps at the higher weight vs only 25 in the second example. The additional 12 reps in the second example are not equal in intensity because of the lower weight. 12 light vs 5 heavy, I would take the 5 heavy reps. I rank effort of different ladders from easiest to most difficult like this:
    1. Down Ladder (5,4,3,2,1)
    2. Up Ladder (1,2,3,4,5)
    3. Up Pyramid (1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1)
    4. Down Pyramid (5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5)
    For two reasons: one, increasing reps after fatigue and total volume of multiple high rep sets vs multiple low rep sets. Sorry I can't help with the science part other than to think that higher reps inducing lactic acid interfering with the ability of the muscle to contract as many fibers as fast maybe.
  3. North Coast Miller

    North Coast Miller Strong Member of the Forum

    I don't get it either. But then, I pyramid down as I increase the load. If I'm going to shoot for more volume to finish it will be with a drop set.

    If I can hit the full down portion and back up using the same load it tells me I should be using more weight or doing complexes. I guess it would depend on rest periods - if I were to increase the rest period as I worked back up that makes more sense, but I'd imagine not he best use of my workout time.
  4. MattM

    MattM SFG1 Certified Instructor

    I love up ladders because it feels like the first few rungs are "warmups".

    Down ladders definitely have their place, especially for challenge yourself, leave the gym in a heap, type workouts.
  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Staff Member Senior Instructor

    Pyramid up for strength - it's a way to achieve volume without high-rep sets. 1-2-3-4-5 is harder than 5-4-3-2-1.

    As to
    I'd ask those program's authors directly if you could.

    Drop sets are a different thing than downward pyramids, see Power To The People! and it's Bear program for an explanation of drop sets.

  6. Marc

    Marc Helping Make Others Stronger

    Pyramids/ladders are great to get in a lot of volume with a relativeley heavy weight without "feeling" it too much. This way your technique stays crisp and you stay relativeley fresh compared to "burning" sets
    Sean M likes this.
  7. Sean M

    Sean M Helping Make Others Stronger

    Summed up nicely! A 1,2,3,4,5 ladder is 18 reps. If 5 is your RM, then 3 x 6 would be too many reps (training to failure, counter-productive), and 3 x 5 is a) more difficult, and b) ~17% less reps than the ladder.
  8. pet'

    pet' Strong, Powerful, Explosively Athletic Member of the Forum


    You virtually add a lot of weight when you do up ladder. This is the contrary when you go for down ladder. Indeed, in the up version, you put mord and more lactic acid in your muscles.

    Kind regards,


Share This Page