PT Pyramid Warmup and Advanced Progressions

A military policeman does push-ups during the Army Best Warrior competition.
Cpl. Ryan J. Barger, a military policeman assigned to the 303rd MP Company, from Jackson, Mich., conducts the push-up portion of the new Army physical readiness test during the 2011 Department of the Army Best Warrior competition Oct. 3. (Spc. Clifford Coy/U.S. Army photo)

If you are looking for a good workout that has a warmup, max-out and cooldown built into it, look no further than the Classic PT Pyramid. Here are some new variations of the Classic PT Pyramid that is a fun challenge and can help break the monotony of repetitive sets.

PT pyramid full-body warmup:

Push-up pyramid 1-10 with 25-meter run between one push-up/one squat, two push-ups/two squats, three push-ups/three squats ... up to 10.


The burpee warmup pyramid version:

Burpee pyramid 1-10 with 25-meter run between one burpee, two burpees, three burpees ... up to 10.

But if you want to take it to a new level, try a different multiple each level of the pyramid, if you do not have the time to continue up the above pyramid to levels 15 or 20.

Push-ups/squat pyramid: Run 200 meters, 10 push-ups/10 squats; run 200 meters, 20 push-ups/20 squats; run 200 meters ... up to 50/50 (by 10).

Upper-body pyramid plus: To do the pyramid below, you double the pull-ups and dips per set and multiply the push-ups and sit-ups (or other abs exercises for variety each set) by five. This typically will have a quicker failure point for multiple exercises. The rule for this pyramid is to continue up the pyramid each set until you fail at two or more exercises.

If you can get to level 10 -- which means 20 pull-ups, 50/50 push-ups/sit-ups and 20 dips without failing -- that is an impressive progression. This will equal 110 pull-ups and dips and 275 push-ups/sit-ups or other abs mix. Repeating in reverse order, without doing the top set twice, will yield 210 pull-ups/dips and 500 push-ups/abs. Now, that is turning into a gut check but do not attempt unless you have progressed over weeks or months of slowly increasing your repetitions by using the pyramid method.

  • Pull-ups 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 ...
  • Push-ups 5, 10, 15, 20, 25
  • Sit-ups 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, etc.

*Note: Add in other exercises like plank pose (one second/rep), flutter kicks, etc.

  •  Dips 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, etc.

Keep going up until you fail at two exercises, then repeat in reverse order if below 16 on pull-ups/dips. Otherwise, keep going up.

Then run three miles.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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