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30-Minute Pyramid Workout (All Strength)

Build muscle at home with this challenging pyramid workout. This total body dumbbell workout is all strength and naturally low impact, but the challenging pyramid format is sure to raise your heart rate. Build muscle in the glutes, hamstrings, back, biceps, triceps, shoulders and core, all in under 30 minutes using just a set of dumbbells.



 

If you want a solid total body strength training workout that also builds endurance, pyramid workouts are for you.

Our previous pyramids are considered some of the most challenging workouts on the blog. The “stack-on” format is a true mental and physical challenge – which is probably why they’re some of your favorites!

Today’s pyramid workout differs from our previous pyramids because it is ALL STRENGTH and under 30 minutes. This is a great format for building muscle if you have limited time or equipment.

two women lying on their backs performing leg lowers as part of pyramid workout: full body strength workout

Pyramid Workout FAQs

What Is A Pyramid Workout?

There are a few different types of pyramid workouts. In this case, “pyramid workout” refers to the “stack on” structure of the workout, where an additional exercise is added to the working set with each additional set. Pyramid workouts can also be created by counting reps of a single exercise, and decreasing reps (standard pyramid) or increasing reps (reverse pyramid) with each additional set.

Do Pyramid Workouts Work?

Pyramid training is the best way to reach muscle fatigue in a limited period of time. Because the work time increases with each additional set, pyramid workouts increase the “time under tension” or total time the muscle is working, which leads to muscle growth.

Is Pyramid Training Good For Weight Loss?

Pyramid workouts are extremely effective at building muscle and burning fat. Pyramid workouts build strength while keeping your heart rate high – which results in an intense strength and conditioning workout. That said, a combination of consistent factors will ultimately contribute to fat loss. A well-rounded workout plan, eating in a calorie deficit, and increasing your resting metabolic rate are important, too.

Two women performing a dumbbell snatch as part of a total body pyramid workout

30-Minute Pyramid Workout: Total Body Strength

Build muscle and increase cardiovascular endurance with this low impact pyramid workout! This workout hits all of the major muscle groups in the lower body and upper body in under 30 minutes.

A complete total body workout comprised of 5 compound exercises, combined in the challenging and effective pyramid workout format.

Add this full body workout routine to your home workout plan 1-2 days per week to build strength and increase endurance.

Workout Equipment:

Medium Set of Dumbbells.

I recommend between 5-25 lbs depending on your fitness level. We used 10, 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in today’s dumbbell strength workout.

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Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Strength Training Pyramid Workout on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 5 Full Body Exercises
  • Timed Intervals (30 seconds of work, 30 seconds rest; complete as many repetitions as you can in the timed interval)
  • Pyramid Format (we’ll add on moves as we work “up” the pyramid, and then drop off moves as we work our way back “down” the pyramid)

A Pyramid Format Looks Like This: 

  • Set 1: Perform move 1 for 30 seconds (as many reps as you can), followed by 30 seconds of rest.
  • Set 2: Perform move 1 for 30 seconds and then move 2 for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest.
  • Set 3: Perform move 1 for 30 seconds, and then move 2 for 30 seconds, and then  move 3 for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest.

Continue this stack-on, pyramid format until you complete moves 1 through 5. Then you have the option to go back down the pyramid in reverse order, dropping off move 1, then move 2, then move 3 and so on.

Trainer Tip: Pyramid workouts are challenging tests of endurance. Follow along with the workout modifier for options to scale each move, or decrease the weights as you start to fatigue.

Workout Outline

  1. Two Deadlifts and Two Squats
  2. Two Bent Over Back Rows, Dumbbell Clean and Two Shoulder Presses
  3. Two Squat Snatches and Two Push Ups
  4. Two Reverse Lunges and Two Bicep Curls
  5. Two Skull Crushers and Two Leg Lowers

 

Two women performing a front lunge as part of a full body strength pyramid workout

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Pyramid Workout

5 Full Body Compound Exercises

Two Deadlifts and Two Squats

Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, hips, quads, core and low back muscles.

two women performing two squats and two deadlifts as part of pyramid workout

How To Do Two Deadlifts and Two Squats

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your hips, palms facing in towards your body.
  2. Hinge at the hips, pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you as you glide the dumbbells down the front of your legs until you feel a stretch along the back of your legs. Range of motion will be different for everyone. Focus on keeping the core tight.
  3. Then, drive through your heels to stand tall, returning to starting position. Repeat twice, performing two deadlifts.
  4. Then, bring the dumbbells to the outside of your hips (suitcase hold).
  5. Lower down into a squat position, lowering your hips down parallel to your knees. Drive your knees out toward your outer three toes.
  6. Drive through your heels to stand tall, returning to starting position. Repeat twice, performing two squats.
  7. Repeat this sequence, alternating two deadlifts with two squats.

Two Bent Over Back Rows, Dumbbell Clean and Two Shoulder Presses

Targets: The lower back and upper back (specifically the lats and rhomboids), hamstrings, hips, glutes, core and shoulders.

two bent over rows, dumbbell clean and push press as part of total body dumbbell workout

How To Do Two Bent Over Back Rows, Dumbbell Clean and Two Shoulder Presses

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in each hand at your hips, palms facing in towards each other.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips, then “row” the dumbbells towards your torso, pulling your elbows towards your ribcage then lowering with control. Repeat twice, performing two narrow rows.
  3. Then, drive through your heels to return to standing, “cleaning” the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. Your heels may pop off the ground. Think about “getting under” the dumbbell to catch it — this is a dumbbell clean. Catch the dumbbells at your shoulders.
  4. Bend your knees, lowering 2-3 inches and then straightening the knees as you push the dumbbells overhead, arms extended straight over shoulders.
  5. With control, lower dumbbells back to shoulders. Repeat twice, performing two push presses.
  6. Repeat this sequence, alternating two back rows with a dumbbell clean and two overhead presses.

Two Squat Snatches and Two Push Ups

Targets:  Legs, hamstrings hips, glutes, back, shoulders, chest and deep transverse abdomen muscles (core).

two women performing a snatch and push up combo move as part of pyramid workout

How To Do Two Squat Snatches and Two Push Ups

  1. Start standing, feet just wider than shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Place both dumbbells on the mat between your feet.
  2. Sit back into a squat, sending your hips back and aiming for 90-degree bends in both knees. Pick up one dumbbell with your right hand.
  3. Then, drive your hips forward as you lift the weight up with your right arm (using the momentum created by your legs and hips). Lock out your elbow (arm straight overhead with bicep by ear, palm forward). Note, you shouldn’t struggle to press the weight overhead, it should be an easy extension of the move, with the majority of the work being done by your legs to create momentum.
  4. With control, lower the dumbbell back down, sitting into a low squat to return the dumbbell to the mat.
  5. At the bottom of your squat, pick up the other dumbbell with your left hand, and perform a snatch on the left side.
  6. Then, plant your hands on the mat (or your dumbbells) and step or hop your feet back, landing in a high plank position.
  7. Perform a push up by lowering your chest towards the mat, elbows falling back towards your sides, then pressing back to high plank position. Repeat twice, performing two push ups.
  8. Repeat this sequence, alternating two squat snatches with two push ups.

Modification: Take out the push up, performing just squat snatches for the timed interval instead.

Two Reverse Lunges and Two Bicep Curls

Targets: Biceps, back, quads, glutes, hips and core.

two women performing reverse lunges and hammer curls as part of pyramid workout

How To Do Two Reverse Lunges and Two Bicep Curls

  1. Start standing with feet hip-width apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand at your sides (palms facing in towards your body).
  2. Step your right leg back into a reverse lunge, dropping your right knee down towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90 degree angle, front thigh parallel to the floor.
  3. Press through your front (right) heel to return to starting position, standing tall.
  4. Repeat, performing a reverse lunge on the left side, stepping your left leg back and dropping your left knee towards the ground. Then press through your left heel to stand tall, returning to starting position.
  5. Then, curl the dumbbells up towards shoulder height, keeping palms facing in towards each other (hammer curl grip). With control, return the dumbbells to your sides. Repeat twice, performing two bicep curls.
  6. Repeat this sequence, alternating two reverse lunges with bicep curls.

Two Skull Crushers and Two Leg Lowers

Targets: Triceps (back of the arm), lower abs, pelvic floor and deep transverse abdominal abs.

two women lying on their backs performing skull crushers and leg lowers as part of total body dumbbell workout

How To Do Two Skull Crushers and Two Leg Lowers

  1. Lie on your back, holding dumbbells straight overhead, wrists in line with shoulders, palms facing in towards each other.
  2. Extend your legs straight up so they’re parallel with your arms, slight bend in the knees, feet are flexed.
  3. Bend your elbows to lower the dumbbells towards your forehead, then squeeze through the back of your arm to return the dumbbells to starting position. Repeat twice, performing two skull crushers.
  4. Then, keeping your low back pressed into the mat, brace your core and and slowly lower you right heel towards the mat.
  5. Exhale as you raise the right foot back up to meet the left foot.
  6. Repeat on the left leg; lowering your left heel towards the mat and then returning it to starting position.
  7. Repeat this sequence, alternating two skull crushers with two leg lowers.

Modification: Bend your knees, performing bent leg lowers rather than full leg lowers. If lying on your back isn’t comfortable, perform standing overhead tricep extensions instead.

Pin This Workout: 30-Minute Total Body Dumbbell Workout (Pyramid Workout Format)

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4 comments
  1. Hi, Lindsey. I am Ioana, from Romania and it’s been 2 years since I have been doing sports “with” you. I have 3 disk hernias and problems with my knees, from doing sports, not in the correct way. My question is, are no equipment exercises as efficient as those with weights? For example, yesterday I was doing a total body and now my elbow hurts. I love doing weights lifting. Unfortunately, my body doesn’t allow me to do it as often as I would like. So, how many time per week should I do weight trainings, in order to stay also safe? Thank you

    • Hi Ioana! Bodyweight exercises can be very beneficial — especially large compound movements like push ups, pull ups and bodyweight squats. That said, strength training is important to build and maintain muscle mass. I would suggest strength training 3 times a week if possible. I hope that helps! -Lindsey