Pyramid Speed Interval Workout

Young woman athlete running
A. Green / Getty Images

Time flies by when you're running the pyramid speed interval workout since it requires you to pay so much attention to your interval times. The concept is that you're going up and down a "pyramid" by starting your hard interval at a one-minute segment, going up to a five-minute segment, and then working your way back down to one minute.

This type of workout is sometimes called a ladder workout, because it takes you up and down. You can do it on a treadmill or outdoors (with a watch, of course). Speed workouts are a helpful way to mix up your training and improve your race time.

Benefits of Pyramid Training

Pyramid-style workouts, which include a change in distance or pace as you go "up" and "down" the pyramid changes up your speed running format. By switching up your speed for a specified amount of time, you have the opportunity to increase your tempo and endurance.

A 2022 scientific review examined how pyramidal training affected the effectiveness on mid- to long-distance endurance runners. When examining the workout styles, the review determined that combining longer intervals with low-intensity speeds followed by shorter intervals at higher-intensity paces optimized endurance training for runners.

By distributing the distance and speed at which you do your workout intervals, and following the pyramid method, runners can more efficiently attain maximum improvements in their running performance.

Pyramid Speed Workout

This workout takes 40 minutes. You'll also need an additional 10 minutes total for warm-up and cool-down time.

Interval How to Run
Warm Up 5 to 10 minute walk/slow jog
Work Interval 1 minute at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 1 minute
Work Interval 2 minutes at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 2 minutes
Work Interval 3 minutes at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 2 minutes
Work Interval 4 minutes at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 2 minutes
Work Interval 5 minutes at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 2 minutes
Work Interval 4 minutes at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 2 minutes
Work Interval 3 minutes at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 2 minutes
Work Interval 2 minutes at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for 2 minutes
Work Interval 1 minute at 5K race pace
Cool Down 5 minute slow jog

Pyramid Speed Interval Workout for Track

This workout is similar to the one above, but it's easier to do on an indoor or outdoor 400m track because it's based on laps, not time (so you can do it without a watch). The concept is to go up and down a pyramid by starting your hard interval with one lap (400m), adding another lap until you get to four laps, and then working your way back down to one lap.

Interval How to Run
Warm Up 5 to 10 minute walk/slow jog
Work Interval 1 lap (400m) at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for half of work interval time
Work Interval 2 laps (800m) at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for half of work interval time
Work Interval 3 laps (1200m) at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for half of work interval time
Work Interval 4 laps (1600m) at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for half of work interval time
Work Interval 3 laps (1200m) at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for half of work interval time
Work Interval 2 laps (800m) at 5K race pace
Rest Interval Recover (easy pace) for half of work interval time
Work Interval 1 lap (400m) at 5K race pace
Cool Down 5 minute slow jog

A Word From Verywell

Switching up your running routine can not only help you bring variety into your workouts, but it can also increase running endurance. Always start any new running workout routine by incorporating it slowly into your existing program. Remember to practice proper running form while increasing speed and distance.

Was this page helpful?
2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Campos Y, Casado A, Vieira JG, et al. Training-intensity distribution on middle- and long-distance runners: a systematic review. Int J Sports Med. 2022;43(4):305-316. doi: 10.1055/a-1559-3623

  2. Filipas L, Bonato M, Gallo G, Codella R. Effects of 16 weeks of pyramidal and polarized training intensity distributions in well-trained endurance runners. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2022;32(3):498-511. doi:10.1111/sms.14101