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Military Muscle: Build power with pyramids

I have been working on some hardcore pyramid schemes, and this one should be fairly tough. It should take you about 50 minutes to complete.

This workout is designed with two exercises — executed through opposing pyramids — interspersed with active recovery. It’s not intended as a sprint, but rather as a “grind,” so try to take only quick water breaks.

There are three exercises: 500-meter row, hang squat clean and pullups.

I put the weighted exercises at the top of the pyramid to create exhaustion early, then hit you with increasing weighted reps at the end as you are wearing down.

This is not a workout you should jump into if you are just starting your program. Use bands or the gravitron machine (assisted pullups) only if necessary.

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Executing the hang squat clean (shown above)

Start with the bar above knee level (hang position). Execute a squat clean. Then, with bar at chest level, perform a right leg lunge and return to start. Then perform a left leg lunge and return to start. Then execute the push press — you can do a small squat and use momentum on the way up to get the bar up over your head to a full press position.

A good starting weight would be 55 percent of body weight for men and 40 percent for women.

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The pyramid:

Start with a 500-meter row. Afterward, spend a good amount of time stretching and then refuel with a 4-to-1 carb to protein mix. (Can’t beat chocolate milk).

First segment:

10 hang squat cleans/1 pullup

9 hang squat cleans/2 pullups

8 hang squat cleans/3 pullups

7 hang squat cleans/4 pullups

6 hang squat cleans/5 pullups

500-meter row.

Second segment:

5 hang squat cleans/6 pullups

4 hang squat cleans/7 pullups

3 hang squat cleans/8 pullups

2 hang squat cleans/9 pullups

1 hang squat cleans/10 pullups

500-meter row.

Third segment: 

1 hang squat cleans/10 pullups

2 hang squat cleans/9 pullups

3 hang squat cleans/8 pullups

4 hang squat cleans/7 pullups

5 hang squat cleans/6 pullups

500-meter row.

Fourth segment:

6 hang squat cleans/5 pullups

7 hang squat cleans/4 pullups

8 hang squat cleans/3 pullups

9 hang squat cleans/2 pullups

10 hang squat cleans/1 pullups

500-meter row.

Bob Thomas is director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. Email him at jomof4@cox.net.

Demonstrating this week’s workout is Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Stephen Houserman, 23, a power lifter and this summer’s intern at Marine Corps Times. Houserman dropped 40 pounds in two and a half months to be eligible to enlist.

Photos by Mike Morones/Staff.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Thomas

Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Thomas has been our Military Muscle columnist since 2007. He’s the director of the Navy Wellness Center in Pensacola, Fla. He’s his base’s lead trainer, a wounded warrior program facilitator and the Navy nutrition counselor there. His special emphasis is on fitness for the military retired population.

2 Comments

Robert Garrington

about 1 year ago

I want to use this workout; but I did see how many times per week For this routine, how long to use it before switching to something else? Nor exercises/ routines for the other muscle groups to maintain some sort of balance? I'm planning on starting the workout; this coming week!

Reply

Sara Davidson

about 1 year ago

Hi Robert, You can see some of Bob Thomas' other columns at this link: http://blogs.militarytimes.com/pt365/category/military-muscle-columns/ Each one focuses on something slightly different, so you aren't working just one muscle group.

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