Workout of the Week: How to Add Variety to the PT Pyramid

Naval Surface Force Atlantic's (SURFLANT) Force Master Chief Jack Callison participates in a physical training session held at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) during Sailor of the Year (SOY) week. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

The PT Pyramid has long been a classic way to start improving with military calisthenics exercises. There are many ways to incorporate the PT Pyramid into running, swimming, lifting, and many other exercises besides the typical pullup, pushups, abs pyramid circuit. (Top Ten PT Pyramids

The new workout of the week featured in the article below add several different movements to include a large variety of crawls and carries. You can also make any PT pyramid tougher by increasing the sets and by adding weight by using a weight vest doing the standard calisthenics.

The typical 1-10-1 PT pyramid looks like this:

Pullups x 1 Dips x 2 Abs of Choice x 3 (or plank pose 1 rep = 1 second in plank) Pushups x 3 (or x 2 if x3 is too much)

Explanation: Set 1: 1 pullup, 2 dips, 3 abs of choice, 3 pushups Set 2: 2 pullups, 4 dips, 6 abs / pushups Set 3: 3 pullups, 6 dips, 9 abs / pushups ---keep going up to 10, 20, 30/30 – then repeat in reverse order.

This pyramid will accumulate 100 pullups, 200 dips, 300 abs / plank, 300 pushups and require you to do basic mathematics each set which will be challenging as you start to tire.  Just remembering what set you are on can be challenging as well.

New Additional Movements to the Pyramid

Here is the new addition of more challenging movements:

After every set do a variety of the following 100m travel options:

Fireman carry (partner needed), Bear Crawls, Crab Walk, Wheel barrow race (partner needed), Sandbag Run (carry on shoulder or head), Stretcher Carry (partner needed), Log Carry, Sled Pull or Push, Farmerwalk Carries (any weight or equipment with a handle), Walking lunges with overhead press (If you want to add legs into the workout.)

Explanation: Set 1: 1 pullup, 2 dips, 3 abs of choice, 3 pushups  (travel 100yard with crawl or carry) Set 2: 2 pullups, 4 dips, 6 abs / pushups (travel 100yard with crawl or carry) Set 3: 3 pullups, 6 dips, 9 abs / pushups (travel 100yard with crawl or carry) ---keep going up to 10, 20, 30/30 – then repeat in reverse order. (travel 100yard with crawl or carry EACH SET)

The goal is to make these 19 travels of the 19 sets of the 1-10-1 pyramid of 100 yards each more challenging that just running back and forth. Though running back and forth has a way of challenging the cardio vascular system a little more than the normal pyramid. You may have to repeat several of the travel options multiple times.

Make it Even Harder?

If you have mastered the 1-10-1 Pt Pyramid the next way to up your game is to either add a weight vest of 15-25 lbs. Another classic increase is to see if you can do a pyramid to 12 (1-12-1) or go up to 15 or 20 (without reversing the pyramid). Or you can do the Max Rep Set progression and go for all the same reps of the 1-10-1 pyramid (100 pullups, 200 dips, 300 abs / 300 pushups) in as few sets as possible in max rep sets.  A challenging goal is to get all the same reps in 10 or fewer sets. Can you build up to 4-5 sets?

So, how can you make it tougher?  Any challenging travel options you can think of?  Maybe something that is related to your job?  Or related to your future selection program?

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