This pyramid workout for the shoulders and legs is really a full body strength training and metabolic cardio workout combined.
The nature of pyramid workouts provides an elevated heart rate throughout the workout so that you are burning massive amounts of calories while stimulating anabolic hormones to build nice, curvy muscles.
For this pyramid workout we will do the following:
Shoulders and Legs Pyramid Workout
- Dumbbell Shoulder Press
- Dumbbell Lunge
- Dumbbell Lat Raise
- Dumbbell Still Legged Deadlift
- Dumbbell Front Raise
- Banded Glute Bridge on bench
- Dumbbell Rear Delt Flye
What Are the Benefits of A Pyramid Workout
Pyramid workout benefits are that it shakes things up structure wise to bust boredom.
If you normally use a typical 3 x 10 structure or something similar, you could add a pyramid workout during your week to give you a break from the norm.
This is especially helpful if you are easily bored with workouts always being similar or get tired of structure. (More on that here)
Pyramid workouts are also great for increasing your metabolism.
(Read more: How to Increase Metabolism: Myths and Truths)
Similar to a HIIT workout, with pyramid workouts you will be working more quickly than usual, going from one exercise to the next.
(Check out this Kettlebell Squats and Swings HIIT Workout)
This will keep your heart rate elevated and burn more calories.
Just remember to use proper form always and to take breaks when you need to.
Work at a pace that is safe for you but pushes you a little out of your comfort zone to really work on that cardiovascular training and burn fat.
Metabolic training pyramid workouts utilize the anaerobic energy system by containing portions of exercise that are of high intensity and portions that are lower intensity or rest in between the circuit sets.
This makes it possible to perform bursts of anaerobic exercise over a longer period of time.
Your heart rate will stay elevated in between, burning massive amounts of calories during and after the workout.
Post workout, your body will attempt to return to “normal” (homeostasis).
This activity burns a lot of calories for several hours after you are finished your pyramid workout circuit.
The name for this effect is called EPOC: excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
(related: How to Get Better Sleep with Exercise)
If you’re looking for a longer workout plan, check out this 30 Day Fitness Challenge. Or hire me to custom design one for you!
How to Perform a Pyramid Workout
A pyramid workout is called such because you will work in sets that gradually grow in reps, and then peak and go back down.
For this particular dumbbell shoulders and legs pyramid workout, you will perform it in the following way:
- DB Shoulder Press x 4 reps
- DB Lunge x 4 reps
- DB Lat Raise x 4 reps
- DB Stiff Legged Deadlift x 4 reps
- DB Front Raise x 4 reps
- Banded Glute Bridge x 4 reps
- DB Rear Delt Flyes x 4 reps
- DB Shoulder Press x 8 reps
- DB Lunge x 8 reps
- DB Lat Raise x 8 reps
- DB Stiff Legged Deadlift x 8 reps
- DB Front Raise x 8 reps
- Banded Glute Bridge x 8 reps
- DB Rear Delt Flyes x 8 reps
- DB Shoulder Press x 10 reps
- DB Lunge x 10 reps
- DB Lat Raise x 10 reps
- DB Stiff Legged Deadlift x 10 reps
- DB Front Raise x 10 reps
- Banded Glute Bridge x 10 reps
- DB Rear Delt Flyes x 10 reps
- DB Shoulder Press x 12 reps
- DB Lunge x 12 reps
- DB Lat Raise x 12 reps
- DB Stiff Legged Deadlift x 12 reps
- DB Front Raise x 12 reps
- Banded Glute Bridge x 12 reps
- DB Rear Delt Flyes x 12 reps
Now, simply perform all round again in descending order. Go back to 10 reps, then 8, then 4.
Take a break between any rounds that you feel you need to or take a break after the peak (12 reps) round if you are more advanced.
For another awesome workout, check out these Core Strength Exercises That Actually Work.
When you are done your workout, try this DIY Face Mask for post gym sweaty skin to prevent breakouts.
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Dumbbell Shoulder Press:
- start with arms holding dumbbells with elbows bent 90 degrees, palms facing forward
- brace your core and stand with feet hip width apart
- press arm up, lifting dumbbells until arms are almost straight with a slight bend in your elbows
- return to starting position and repeat for reps
- standing, step backwards with one leg
- lower your body by bending your front knee 90 degrees
- keep your weight in your front leg, using your back leg as support
- return to starting position by pushing through your heel on the front foot
- repeat all reps on one leg before switching to the other
Dumbbell Lateral Raise:
- stand with feet hip width apart, dumbbells facing in at your sides
- keep arms straight with soft elbows (not rigidly locked)
- raise arms up until parallel with the floor
- return to starting position and repeat for reps
Dumbbell Stiff Legged Deadlift:
- stand with dumbbells in hands, palms facing in, feet hip width apart
- keep a neutral spine and hinge your hips backwards
- lower your upper body with the dumbbells in hands, close to your body
- do not hang dumbbells straight down in front of you, keep them tight to your body
- bend until your hamstrings/lower back becomes tight and you’ve reached the end of your range of motion
- slowly return to starting position using your glutes and hamstrings
- keep dumbbells close to body the whole time
Dumbbell Front Raise:
- start standing with feet hip width apart, dumbbells in hands, palms facing your body
- brace your core with back in neutral to protect spine
- with straight arms lift your arms up straight in front of you until parallel with the floor
- return to start and repeat for reps
Banded Glute Bridge:
- lay on your back with knees bent, feet flat on floor
- you can either place your feet with soles together for a greater challenge, or keep them flat on the floor, hip width apart
- arms extended, palms up to stabilize your body
- use your hips and glutes to push your body up, keeping your shoulders and feet planted
- extend to top range of motion and pause to squeeze your glutes for 1-3 counts
- Return to start and repeat for reps
Rear Delt Flyes:
- stand with dumbbells at your sides, palms facing in, feet hip width apart
- hinge your hips backwards slightly, maintaining a straight/neutral spine
- with arms straight, palms facing in, raise both arms out to sides, keeping core tight and spine neutral
- go slowly and do not jerk the weight
- stop when arm are about parallel to floor (depending on your range of motion)
- return to arms down position and repeat for reps
How to Track Your Workouts
If you are looking for a way to track your workouts, plan your goals and keep a record of how far you’ve come, I’ve created planners and trackers for that.
They are easy to use but I include instructions to make the most of them. You can track any goals you like for monthly, weekly and daily time periods.
There is also a workout planner template and a workout tracker calendar!
If you need help with fitness motivation, check out this post on Fitness Motivation and Willpower Fail: How to Build Discipline and Finally Conquer Your Goals.
I also have a FREE upcoming mini course on How To Get Motivated As F*ck. Sign up today!
I hope you enjoy this workout and as always, feel free to leave any comments letting me know if you did it or if you have any questions!
wow this was amazing. it is really helpful and thanks for the author. I also love shoulder workouts.
wow. that is I needed post. I like this one. anyway, it is boom click nice one. keep going
Great article! Overhead press and side lateral raise are my favorite shoulder exercises.
Same! The overhead press is obviously a more bang for your buck exercise as it is a compound lift but side laterals are one of my favourite for isolation work. I also love front raises, upright rows and shrugs. Traps just make the shoulder muscles look even more impressive!