Workout Challenge: Tackling the Burpee Pyramid Plus

A National Guardsman performs burpees during the Best Warrior competition.
Texas Army National Guard Spc. Jacob D. Arndt, 176 Engineer Brigade, performs burpees as part of the obstacle course March 5, 2020, during the Texas Military Department 2020 Best Warrior competition at Camp Swift near Bastrop, Texas. (Spc. Jason Archer/U.S. Army National Guard photo)

Every now and then, you should take on a workout that forces you to go into your "happy place." A long, challenging, even monotonous butt-kicking workout that challenges the mind and the body is what this week's fitness challenge is all about.

The Burpee Pyramid 

We do this on a basketball court: roughly 30-meter runs between a burpee pyramid from one to 25 reps. This totals 325 burpees, and you certainly will feel this workout. I do not recommend taking it on if you are not used to doing multiple sets of push-ups, dips and burpees, as you may be sore for a few days. I recommend trying a 1-10 set the first week, then advancing to 1-15, then trying a 1-25 pyramid.

Rules and extra events: 

You only have to go from 1-25, but you can do it in any order you prefer, such as 25-1. You will take a break every five sets while doing a max-rep set of pull-ups. We also added a set of stair crawls every fifth set.

Below is what the workout will look like. Items in parentheses are optional additions to provide situational awareness drills and thinking games:

Burpee Pyramid Set 1

  • One burpee, run to the other side of the court

  • Two burpees, run back

  • Three burpees, run back

  • Four burpees, run back

  • Five burpees.

  • Take a pull-up break and drink water as needed over a light stretch.

Burpee Pyramid Set 2

  • Six burpees, run

  • Seven burpees, run

  • Eight burpees, run

  • Nine burpees, run

  • 10 burpees -- pull-up break  (Get creative with the run. Add other travel methods like bear crawls, low crawls, fireman carries, etc.)

Burpee Pyramid Set 3

  • 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 burpees (with runs between), pull-up break (tie knots with rope)

Burpee Pyramid Set 4

  • 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 burpees (with runs between), pull-up break. (Situational awareness, gear adrift drill: Drop a shirt on the court to see whether anyone in the group noticed anything different or how many chairs are courtside. Ask questions about the color of shirt, walls, chairs, etc.)

Burpee Pyramid Set 5

  • 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 burpees: This set is a bear. Many opt to get this one done first, or after the 1-10 warmup sets. 

  • Pull-up break. This workout typically takes 60-75 minutes, depending on how far you have to travel to do pull-ups.

If you have any energy left, get a cooldown cardio option of two- to three-mile run or 1,000- 1,500-meter swim with fins.

All done.

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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