Kettlebell Pyramid Strength and Conditioning Routine

by Marianne  - October 2, 2012

Hi everyone,It was about

9 months ago that I did my last pyramid workout, and it was a total killer! Either, I didn’t make this one hard enough, or I am a lot fitter all of a sudden!  That being said, I still found this a really challenging (and fun) workout routine; it left me energised, not dead.

*thumbs up for not being dead* 😉

This post has to be a brief one, but I wanted to ask you to call back tomorrow for a VERY exciting and belated announcement!

The Workout

For anyone who hasn’t done a Pyramid-style workout before, this is how it works:

You choose your exercises (ones which are better suited to set-reps) and then you plan how many rounds you would like to do (I chose 5 rounds).  The first 3 rounds you build the reps up and then the final 2 rounds you reduce the reps back to the start.  The point of this is to build intensity, and allow for good total volume of reps spread over the 5 rounds.  You don’t need your top round (round 3 in this case) to be your usual MAX reps, because you will be pre-fatigued and still have more rounds to go.  You are not meant to rest very much between exercises or rounds – this also builds intensity.

So, here is the exercises and reps I did:

  1. Alternating High Deficit Reverse Lunges (20kg) – 8, 10, 12, 10, 8
  2. Pull Ups – 2, 3, 4, 3, 2
  3. Double KB Thruster (2x14kg) – 4, 6, 8, 6, 4 (could have started higher)
  4. *Double KB Swings (2x16kg) – 6, 8, 10, 8, 6 (should have started higher)
  5. Burpees – 6, 8, 10, 8, 6 (Again, I should’ve started higher)

*Note: My thumbs were facing forward. This was to spare my forearm tendons and allows for more endurance.

Hope you enjoy this workout  – let me know how it goes 😀


Leaving you with an idea I had for a halloween costume:






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Full Body Kettlebell and BodyWeight Exercise Routine (HIIT Style)

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  1. Great workout! I did this one a few days ago and I was quite pooped! I didn’t write down the numbers that you did, so I set my own:
    1) Alt high deficit reverse lunges 12 14 16 14 12 (that was total, not each side) with 40lb DB
    2) pull ups 4 5 6 5 4 (neutral grip)
    3) thrusters 6 8 10 8 6 (with 2×30 DBs)
    4) swings 10 15 20 15 10 (did two arm swings with one 45 lb DB)
    5) burpees 10 12 14 12 10
    That took me about 25 minutes.
    Thanks again! 🙂

    Surrey BC, Canada

  2. OMG that was tough! I raised the reps a little and then had to lower the weights almost immediately! My heart was really racing right from the start. I’ve been careful not to aggravate this Piriformis pain, so I have been avoiding dead lift movements as they make it worse. I have managed to add a band to fire hydrants, kick backs, etc to make them harder and that works well.

    Thanks for a great workout!

    ~ Gillian

    1. Should I do my evil laugh? 😉 Just kidding – yes, this was a tough one. Thanks for the feedback.

      Sorry to hear about your piriformis – hope nothing aggravates it; here’s to feeling amazing!

      Great to hear from you 🙂

  3. hey marianne great workout, i have a question. do u find the socks help prevent doms and also do u know does the compression help with taking pressure of lifting heavy of the veins.

    i like urself have been away from gymn for some time and lost all motivation this is the first time this has happened to me , i bought new clothes gloves and the cutest little crock pot(i lol when i read u bought one too) but nothing has helped.i have always been able to get back on track by myself but this time i havent been succesful (which lead to more stress and feelings of failure)

    i in the past 2 wks i have joined a local gymn to use machines (its a mental thing, lost confidence and too nervous to lift free weights)BUT i surprised myself and i picked up weights and did some squats deadlifts rdls. I did some alter lunges and weighted bridges yes. I have had some severe doms but im so so happy to be back and feeling positive, and am catching up on ur articles.

    1. Hey!

      The socks are just normal socks; they have no other special qualities, other than looking good and keeping my shins warm 😉

      Great to hear you are getting you motivation back! I really hope that you keep it up and start enjoying the feeling of getting fitter and stronger again!!

      Good to see you commenting again.

  4. yes!! I just got back from my mini vaca, which was awesome, and was so excited to see this. Love pyramid style workouts. Thumbs facing down helps the elbows? that is great to know! I finished up a ladder style swing session this morning so next time I’ll be more aware of my thumb placement. Thats a great tip. If I use medium-heavy weights, could I do something like that after a heavy weight session? For example, start with heavy deadlifts and finish with this pyramid? Just curious! Thanks for the great workout idea!

    1. Hey Chrysta, thumbs forward – so palms facing each other. Some people will find it weirder, so for them they can hold the KB which ever way is more comfy for them.

      Yes, absolutely this would be perfect for after DLs! Great finisher!! 😀

      1. With two kettlebells, thumbs forward also makes it easier for me to get both between my legs for the hike back portion of the swing.

        I love pyramids, especially when you start coming down and the sets get shorter!

        Thanks, Marianne!

  5. Those high deficit lunges look like fun 🙂 I’ve never done ’em like that before. Am definitely looking forward to those (in a sick and twisted way, of course). Thanks for another great workout, Marianne.

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