Pyramid HIIT Workout – Fun with Numbers Workout

Workout Details

Though we like using a Tabata style High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) structure for many of our interval workouts (20 seconds on 10 seconds off) it is always a good idea to switch it up on a regular basis to challenge your body in different ways.

This Pyramid HIIT workout does just that by taking the idea of a timed set that is typically used in intervals and blending it with a pyramid workout structure commonly used with a repetition based strength routine.

A typical Pyramid workout structure looks like this; using an odd number of sets (5-11 or more per exercise) 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
Set 2: 10 Repetitions
Set 3: 14 Repetitions
Set 4: 10 Repetitions
Set 5: 6 Repetitions

With this routine we have taken that idea and turned it into a HIIT workout by using the same structure but with timed intervals instead of repetitions. So the structure for each exercise of this routine will be this:

15 Seconds Active
15 Seconds Rest
30 Seconds Active
15 Seconds Rest
45 Seconds Active
15 Seconds Rest
30 Seconds Active
15 Seconds Rest
15 Seconds Active
10 Seconds Rest/Set up for next exercise

By the time you are done you will have completed a total of 2 minutes and 15 seconds of each exercise but using varying lengths of effort. By using this 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.

The key is not completely exhausting yourself as this slows your ability to burn calories because you are too tired to continue performing the motion to its fullest extent. This concept is why any HIIT program (especially this one) is better at burning calories than a traditional set and repetition based workout program.

Workout Structure
This routine consists of a warm up followed by two groups of three exercises (6 total) then a short cool down. The following is a quick rundown of the exercises we will be using and what muscle groups they target.

Group One

• 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.

Group Two

• 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.

Calories burned
We estimate that this cardio & abdominal routine burns between 9 and 14 calories a minute. The exact expenditure will depend on your weight, gender, muscle mass and many other variables.


zebnanna64 Blender Account

This is one mean workout. I love how challenging it is, and I REALLY love when the pyramid count starts going back down, haha!! Thanks for a great routine!

mussa81 Blender Account

Lovet it!!!!!
Hardest workout ever.
No wonder only one workout in day 7.

cjones Blender Account

Hi, i am doing your 1st 8 week challenge and now esp after this workout my legs are soooo sore the next day it hurts walking let alone doing another workout.. how can i reduce this stiffness??

hollyrae Blender Account

Wow, this was challenging! I love counting back down, ha! thanks for another great workout choice!

soph_jar Blender Account

I have a lot of trouble with the mountain climbers, not because of my fitness level but because it hurts my shoulders, I have problems with weakness in my rotator cuffs. I tried the lower level mountain climber (slower version, moving one leg at a time) but had the same problem. Is there an alternative exercise I can do, or could you suggest an exercise to strengthen my shoulders/rotator cuffs. Thanks!

metalhead Blender Account

I once had the same problem, pain started with the burpees, so I did Push Jacks instead (I could not even raise those arms and do Jumping Jacks...). I did an upper body workout the day before, but if you feel your shoulders are too weak try a toning routine.
Do not worry about changing an exercise... just push yourself the way you can.

vesch Blender Account

I like this workout. The best part is going back down after 45 seconds. I am almost done with the first work out program and I plan on getting number 2.

I like doing something different each day (or at least not too close together) so your routines are perfect.

lflanagan2 Facebook Account

I actually couldn't finish the mountain climbers. Got so nauseous I threw up after this workout. My friend said it was a right if passage. LOL. Any suggestions? Should I have taken it easier. I drank lots of water throughout the day, ate carbs and protein a couple of hours beforehand. Although I did walk almost three miles that morning...maybe it was too much activity too close together...

ogo.okafor.7 Facebook Account

I had a hiatus of 2 days as I had a wedding. Did this today and it went ok so confident I can push harder. I have 2 more holidays coming up though so I am a little worried about the 8 week programme but now that I've already started I don't want to stop.

Ilsa Google Account

this is my go to workout after i have a rest & cheat day

Ilsa Google Account

please do more pyramid workouts!!

ksamana Facebook Account

I really liked this workout... and I've been trying for a while now to do pushups, but I still can't.. so is it okay if I don't go completely down in a pushup for this workout?

felli Blender Account

#7 done... man... those last 45 seconds of mountain climbers felt like forever!!! such a tough but interesting workout!!

Emily Google Account

nice one, thanks.

jmsouth5 Blender Account

Okay, I am convinced! Daniel is the mean cop, Kelli is the nice cop. I'm nicknaming Daniel ......The Punisher! Great workout, love Tabata style but this put a good spin on it! Only burned 257 cals, just don't have the stamina JUST YET! Really enjoying your 8 Week workout! Thanks so much.
Juli 12/5/13

jstrojecka Facebook Account

Super!!! Czuję że żyję!!!! Totalny reset :-) DZIĘKUJĘ!!!!

jaydawg Blender Account

I never thought I'd use the word 'fun' and 'workout' in the same sentence, but this was a fun workout! The burpee/pushup combo was a killer since I can't quite do a full pushup, had to slow it down a little bit so I can get in a half pushup. Ugh, one day, I'm going to conquer those full pushups!!

1peterlight Blender Account

The punisher is suitable! #7 done!! That was brutal, I really didn't expect with the short time frames it would be too much. But man it sure makes those stretches at the end feel wonderful.

1peterlight Blender Account

I have a question, I cannot seem to get my legs off the ground at all for the back bow. What inch I am able to get off the floor is definitely not going to hover. What will condition me for this kind of exercise? Thank you.

jaydawg Blender Account

I had the same problem when I first started doing them. Pilates swimmers and frog leg lifts too, it can be very frustrating! It really helped me to slow down the movement and truly focus on it and sync it with my breathing (had to pause the video for this because they were much faster and going much higher than me) . Just focus on whatever distance you CAN get off the ground, even though you may not feel like you're doing much in terms of range of movement. You will get there :)

clover 94 Blender Account

Thank you. :) I've never tried this one before and I love the pyramid format!

burnburnburn Blender Account

thank u so much for working so hard to make us work hard...... loved it... had to ease down on those mt climbers.. please try to make level 3 workouts that burn this much... :)

smileysarah94 Blender Account


Wow! I must admit that I was initially dreading this routine because I thought I was really going to struggle. As it turns out, I survived and the routine itself was actually quite manageable. I can't believe how much my fitness has improved in as little as a week! I'm so proud of myself for getting through this! I never thought I would say this but out of all the workouts I've tried on this site, this one was a lot of fun and is now one of my faves.

The only modifications I had to make were not doing the pushups with the burpees since I am brand new to them and haven't quite got the strength to do a full pushup yet (I am determined to conquer that though), as well as the Mt.climbers - I had to slow them down due to the surface being a bit slippery (believe me, I wish that was an excuse). Other than that, I pushed myself really hard and now I'm sweating bullets!

I really wanted to make this post because you guys are awesome! Thank you so much for all the informative workouts - I feel great!

Round 1, Day #7 complete! :D

japetta.lee Facebook Account

Wow, great workout literally kicked my butt!!

Sendy Google Account

Mountain climbers and push ups kill me. Add them together in one move and I'm double dead. Definitely didn't do that part as well as Daniel! Loved the last stretch though I laugh every time. Kinda felt like a crime scene victim. I even stuck my tongue out when my husband walked in the room. I'm afraid I'll never be a graceful swan. ;p

Sendy Google Account

Just re-read my comment. Man, I have a morbid sense of humor!

Charls Google Account

Oh goodness, what was this? I burned less than 300 calories and had to do an additional training session to boost the calorie burn. I guess I did not do it very well. I did the Brutal Fat Burning Cardio HIIT + Dynamic Total Body Strength Training - FB Blend

tetetefyfyfy Facebook Account

The best workout! Loved it!!! :)

madison.irving.7 Facebook Account

This was one intense workout! I loved it!

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