Pyramid Workout for Hips, Glutes, and Thighs

This lower body workout offers a great way to add intensity and fatigue to the muscles of the glutes, hips, and thighs with pyramid training. In this workout, you'll go through a series of sets, starting with a lighter weight and higher reps for your first set. For subsequent sets, you'll increase the weight while reducing your reps. For the first three exercises, you'll do both ascending and descending pyramids, taking you through a total of 5 sets per exercise. For the last three exercises, you'll focus only on ascending pyramids for 3 sets per exercise.

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions and modify any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.

Equipment Needed

  • Barbell with various weighted plates
  • Various weighted dumbbells
  • Step or staircase
  • Paper plate

What to Do

  • Warm up with 5-10 minutes of cardio
  • For each exercise, choose three sets of weights—one light, one medium and one heavy. A general rule of thumb is to increase the weights by 5-20 pounds, depending on your fitness level and the exercise
  • Perform each set in the pyramid, increasing the weight for each set and resting about 30-60 seconds between sets
  • Sample weights are shown for each exercise but modify according to your fitness level
  • Substitute dumbbells if you don't have a barbell

You may need to experiment with how much weight to use for each set. Focus on choosing a weight you can only lift for the desired number of reps.


Barbell Squats

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, resting a barbell on the shoulders. Lower into a squat, keeping the knees behind the toes and abs engaged. Push into the heels to stand and repeat.
Set 1 - 35 lbs x 12
Set 2 - 45 lbs x 10
Set 3 - 50 lbs x 8
Set 4 - 45 lbs x 10
Set 5 - 35 lbs x 8



Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and hold weights in front of the thighs. With the back flat, shoulders back and abs in, tip from the hips and lower the weight as far as your flexibility allows. Raise up, squeezing the glutes.
Set 1 - 20 lbs x 12
Set 2 - 25 lbs x 10
Set 3 - 30 lbs x 8
Set 4 - 25 lbs x 10
Set 5 - 20 lbs x 8


Barbell Lunges

Place a heavy barbell on the shoulders and take the right foot forward, left foot back in a split stance. Keeping abs engaged, bend the knees and lower into a lunge, keeping the front knee behind the toe. Lower as far as you can without touching the back knee to the floor. Push back to start and repeat for all reps before switching sides.
Set 1 - 20 lbs x 12
Set 2 - 25 lbs x 10
Set 3 - 30 lbs x 8
Set 4 - 25 lbs x 10
Set 5 - 20 lbs x 8



Hold weights in each hand and place the right foot on a step or the second step of a flight of stairs. Lower into a squat and then press into the heel of the right foot and step up, lightly touching the left foot on the step. Bring the left foot down and repeat for all reps before switching sides.
Set 1 - 12 lbs x 12
Set 2 - 15 lbs x 10
Set 3 - 20 lbs x 8


Wide Squat

Hold weights on the upper thighs or at your sides and stand with feet wider than shoulders, toes out at 45-degree angles. Keeping the knees in line with toes, slowly lower into a squat. Push into the heels and concentrate on the inner thighs as you push back to start.
Set 1 - 15 lbs x 12
Set 2 - 20 lbs x 10
Set 3 - 25 lbs x 8 


Sliding Side Lunge

Put a paper plate under the left foot and hold a weight in the left hand. Keep the weight in the right leg and bend the knee as you slide the left foot out to the side, keeping the left leg straight. As you squat toward the floor, keeping the knee behind the toes, take the weight down and touch the floor. Push back up, sliding the left foot in as you stand. Repeat for all reps before switching sides.
Set 1 - 15 lbs x 12
Set 2 - 20 lbs x 10
Set 3 - 25 lbs x 8 

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."