Although I usually use a Tabata style (20 seconds on 10 seconds off / 40 seconds on 20 seconds off) for my High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) I occasionally like to mix it up and have started trailing the “Pyramid Approach”.
Pyramid workouts are still a timed set, but you are only timing your rest! Instead of pushing your body to extreme for a certain amount of time, with Pyramids you are working towards a certain number of sets. In a typical Pyramid workout structure looks you start with a small number of repetitions then add repetitions every set until the middle set, then work your way back down until you end with the same number of repetitions you started with.
For example a 5 set pyramid might look something like this:
Set 1: 6 Repetitions
Rest (approx. 15 seconds)
Set 2: 10 Repetitions
Set 3: 14 Repetitions
Set 4: 10 Repetitions
Set 5: 6 Repetitions
By using the “Pyramid Structure” and breaking up your effort into manageable sections and only taking minimal rest periods you can effectively do more work and burn more calories than is possible by simply completing the exercise once through without stopping. This concept is why any HIIT program (especially this one) is better at burning calories than a traditional set and repetition based workout program.
MY PYRAMID “WOULD-BE-WORKOUT” FOR THE WEEK:
Warm Up (4 mins on bike)
High Knees- This simple exercise is fantastic for getting your heart rate up fast. To get the most out of it be sure to quickly transition one foot to the other while driving the knees up as high as you can.
Toe Touch Crunch- This abdominal exercise is great for effectively targeting the upper and lower abs as well as forcing the hip flexors and quadriceps (front of thigh) to work, increasing your over all calorie burn.
Burpee Push Up- If you have ever done a Burpee you know this is an effective total body exercise that leaves you panting in no time. By adding in a push up you increase your intensity by using even more large muscle groups, drastically increasing your overall calorie burn.
Squat and Pass- This exercise couples a traditional squat with a shoulder exercise to not only increase the overall effort of the squat, also to change the leverage of the motion to work your legs just a bit differently than a squat alone.
Back Bow- This Pilates exercise targets almost every muscle group through the back of the body, from the rhomboids and deltoids on the shoulders and upper back all the way down through the lower back to the butt and hamstrings. It may look like a simple motion but is killer for back strength and a great calorie burner.
Mt. Climbers- This exercise is right up there with burpees as far as difficulty and calorie burn goes. This is a killer for the core, hip flexors, and quadriceps and also gets a good burn in the shoulders. To get the most from this exercise be sure to keep your feet moving as quickly as possible and once you burnout don’t stop, just switch to moving one foot at a time rather than simultaneously.
Cool Down/ Stretch
Exact expenditure of calories burned depends on your weight, gender, muscle mass and many other variables.