The Triple Pyramid: Speed, Run, Swim

Sgt. Guadalupe Campos, the marketing and public affairs representative for Recruiting Station San Antonio, performs push-ups during a physical training session as part of the inaugural Battles Won Academy (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Bryan Nygaard/Released).

Here is an upgrade from the classic 1-10-1 PT Pyramid.  This is rather advanced as it has an accumulation of high repetitions in exercises such as pullups, pushups, core, and a fairly challenging swim workout.

Speed Pyramid:

We do the first PT Pyramid as fast as we can with the exercises of Pullups x 1, Dips or Military Press x 2, and Abs of choice x 3. The goal here is to do the pull, push, core exercises in a fast circuit with as little (or none) rest as possible. If you can make it up the full 1-10-1 pyramid you will accumulate 100 pullups, 200 dips or military press (fine to mix those if you wish and do 100 / 100 of both), and 300 abs of choice. We typically do fast 2 count flutterkicks, crunches, hanging kneeups, or situps and vary each set for the abs of choice.  If you can do this in 20-30 minutes you are in the fast zone. Less than 20 minutes is super-fast but possible.

Run Pyramid:

The next pyramid is a 1-10-1 PT Pyramid with Pullups x 1, Pushups x 2, Plank Pose x 3 seconds per set immediately following the pushups.  Every 5th set you run ½ mile fast. The sets look like this: 

  • Set 1: Pullup 1, Pushups 2, Plank pose 3 seconds
  • Set 2: Pullups 2, Pushups 4, Plank pose 6…keep going up to 10 where the 10th set looks like:
  • Set 10: Pullups 10, Pushups 20, Plank pose 30 seconds.
  • Then repeat in reverse order from 9 down to 1.

In the end you will accumulate 100 pullups (again), 200 pushups, and 300 seconds of plank pose (5 minutes).

Swim Pyramid:

Now this one is a challenge and you may have to alter the distances each set if you run short on time or swim abilities.  The pyramid looks like this:  Pullouts x 1, Pushups x 2, Abs of choice x 3 but you swim 50-100m each set.  The sets look like this:

  • Set 1: Swim 50-100m, pullout 1, pushups 2, abs of choice 3.
  • Set 2: Swim 50-100m, pullouts 2, pushups 4, abs of choice 6.
  • Keep going up until you fail or stop at
  • Set 10:  Swim 50-100m, pullout 10, pushups 20, abs of choice 30.
  • If you have the energy or time to train, repeat in reverse order for 9 down to 1.

Note: a pullout is a muscle up on the pool’s edge in the deep end.  Pull yourself out of the pool so your arms are extended in a sort of up-position of a dip and your hips are touching the edge of the pool and pool deck.  Think of it like a pullup and dip mixed together but easier as you are in the water about 50% of the time. 

Total Accumulation of Distances, Reps, and Time – If you do this workout like the pre-Spec Ops training group did, most people completed this workout is two hours, accomplished 200 pullups, 400 pushups, 100 dips / 100 military press, 600 abs, (mostly flutterkicks, leg levers, knee ups, and situps), and 5 minutes of plank pose.  The runs were only 2 miles, but the swim was 1900m if you did the full 100m per 19 sets.  .  Some opted for the 50 version and got closer to 1000m instead.   Still a tough workout that does not hit you until you are about half way through and then you realize that 200 pullups and swimming are a very tough mix. Enjoy!

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