The Busy Dad's Guide To Lifting With Pyramids

I've been using a simple pyramid lifting program to fit into my full-time and then some work schedule plus Dad and Husband duties. Here's what that program looks like for anyone who could benefit from something similar. This has been really useful for me when I can only steal away a minimal amount of time to exercise; I can also do this in the morning, afternoon, a break, or evening when everything is winding down.

Week 1

The first week is starting out with a little bit less weight but more reps and focuses on some core exercises. If you're feeling up for it or you have the time afterwords, you can drop in some other exercises to target specific body parts, arms, shoulders, legs, etc.

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench press 3 15
Dumbbell press 3 15
Bent over dumbbell rows 3 15
Pull-ups 3 15

For a fifth exercise I will follow the same 3 set, 15 reps pattern for one of the following exercises:

  • Barbell deadlift
  • Barbell squat
  • Dumbbell lunges

I will then finish out the workout with a short burst of metabolic conditioning. I really like doing tabata style kettlebell (or dumbbell) swings. I may also do a few pulls and pushes of the prowler sled I have in my basement home gym.

Week 2

Same exact exercises and combination of metabolic conditioning but with the following set and rep split. Because we're dropping our reps a bit we should be increasing the weight we're using.

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench press 3 12
Dumbbell press 3 12
Bent over dumbbell rows 3 12
Pull-ups 3 15
Bonus exercise 3 12

Week 3

Same lifts, new splits, keep increasing that weight.

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench press 4 8-10
Dumbbell press 4 8-10
Bent over dumbbell rows 4 8-10
Pull-ups 4 12
Bonus exercise 4 8-10

Week 4

Last week before we rinse and repeat. Jack that weight up even more.

Exercise Sets Reps
Bench press 5 5-6
Dumbbell press 5 5-6
Bent over dumbbell rows 5 5-6
Pull-ups 5 10-12
Bonus exercise 5 5-6


When you restart the weeks, aim to start week 1 with a higher base weight for each exercise and keep pressing forward.