Tough Mix of Pyramid, Super Set, and Max Rep Sets (Single Workout)

Pfc. Alex Colliver, foreground, pulls a 90-pound sled 50 meters that simulates the strength needed in pulling a battle buddy out of harm's way during a pilot for the Army Combat Fitness Test, a six-event assessment designed to reduce injuries and replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test. (Photo by Sean Kimmons)

If you're looking to increase your calisthenics performance, the classic Pyramid is the way to go, especially if you mix your pyramid with weights.

You can place weights into a Classic Military PT week or push yourself and make them part of a single workout as these can easily substitute as warm-ups, primers and even full-blown workouts, depending on how you arrange the classic pyramid, super set, max rep set.

For more ideas, check out all the ways you can rearrange the pyramid to get something for every type of training.

Upper Body PT, Weights, Cardio Mix

Warm up with a 1-mile jog/stretch. Continue warm-up of upper body with:

Super Set / Circuit. This is a classic warm-up that can be replaced with any calisthenic exercise, depending on the part of the body you are working. Get your heart rate up by jumping jacks or jumping rope for roughly 30 seconds. Follow it with a sub-max repetition calisthenics exercise, moving from one exercise to the next. Stretch in between as needed.

Repeat 5 times

  • Jump rope or jumping jacks 20
  • Pushups 10
  • Pull-ups 5

Max Rep Set. Get these repetitions in as few sets as possible. If you have to make these exercises assisted pull-ups/dips, pulldowns or bench dips, do so. Try not to spend too much time on this section. If you cannot get these in less than five sets, move on or add easier options to get these pull/push exercises.

  • Pull-ups 50
  • Dips 50

The Pyramid, Only in Reverse. Instead of starting at one and working your way up the pyramid, start at the top and work your way down the pyramid. However, add weight as the repetitions get smaller (single digits) and replace the calisthenics with a weighted option. Rest with an opposing muscle group exercise.

Reverse Pyramid 10-1:

  • Pushups x 2
  • *(20,18,16,14,12) switch to
  • Bench Press x 2 (10,8,6,4,2)
  • Rest with pull-ups in between each set, 5-10 reps, or bicep curls or rows if burned out from pull-ups.

After that series of calisthenics/weights mix, add in some cooldown cardio of your choice.

Typical quick workouts should focus on any future cardio testing or weakness you have. For instance:

Run 2 miles for time. Add in a few 400m at goal mile PT test pace (other runs options).

Swim 500m for time (replacements for swimming). Add in a few 100m at goal PT test pace.

If you need a non-impact cardio activity, go with any of the following:

Bike, Elliptical, rowing, stairclimber, jacob's ladder and, of course, more swimming or treading.

Enjoy. This workout is tough and will take time to complete. It's not for beginners, for sure.


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