The Bench Press Pyramid Workout

July 27, 2012

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The Bench Press is one of the most studied and practiced lifts. The ability to press loads of weight over your chest is the foundation for building the pectorals and other upper-body muscles, including the delts and triceps.

When performing the Bench Press, you don't want to lie on the bench and arbitrarily press weight or perform the same workout over and over again. You want to have a plan designed to challenge your muscles to build a bigger bench.

Below is a 4-week Bench Press Pyramid Routine that will get you out of your Bench Press rut and start building strength and muscle size. Perform each workout once per week.

Bench Press Pyramid

Week 1: Full Pyramid

  • Warm-up
  • 1x8 - 75 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 85 percent of max
  • 1x1 - 95 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 85 percent of max
  • 1x8 - 75 percent of max

Week 2: Reverse Pyramid

  • Warm-up
  • 1x3 - 90 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 80 percent of max
  • 1x8 - 70 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 80 percent of max
  • 1x3 - 90 percent of max

Week 3: Full Pyramid

  • Warm-up
  • 1x8 - 70 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 80 percent of max
  • 1x4 - 90 percent of max
  • 1x1 - 99 percent of max
  • 1x4 - 90 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 80 percent of max
  • 1x8 - 70 percent of max

Week 4: Reverse Pyramid

  • Warm-up
  • 1x2 - 95 percent of max
  • 1x4 - 85 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 75 percent of max
  • 1x8 - 65 percent of max
  • 1x6 - 75 percent of max
  • 1x4 - 85 percent of max
  • 1x2 - 95 percent of max

Getting Started

Do not attempt this workout on your first visit to the gym. Before attempting this workout, you must have a good foundation of chest muscle already developed. You can achieve this with bodyweight chest exercises like Push-Ups, and then by familiarizing yourself with the Bench Press.


This workout cuts repetitions as weight increases, then reverses the sequence to add stress to the muscles. It follows the overload principle, since you increase intensity by completing both sides of the pyramid. Your muscles then break down and rebuild stronger and larger.


I do not recommend completing this workout over and over again. A good idea is to complete the four-week cycle, then take two to four weeks off before your next cycle.

Be sure to rest for two minutes between sets to allow your muscles to recover. This is a strength workout, so it's more about completing quality reps than feeling gassed and fatigued.


Always use a partner to spot you, especially for a workout that causes this much stress. The use of a spotter during workouts both motivates you and adds a sense of security, allowing you to focus on pressing the weight.


Rob Thompson
- Rob Thompson is a Florida high school assistant football coach who has coached defensive line and special teams since 2008. He also has three years...
Rob Thompson
- Rob Thompson is a Florida high school assistant football coach who has coached defensive line and special teams since 2008. He also has three years...
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