Countdown to a New Body

The descending pyramid scheme is a successive sets of an exercise performed with fewer reps and no rest. “It’s a great way to fatigue your muscles quickly and do more work in less time,” says John Romaniello NSCA-CPT, owner of Roman Fitness Systems in New York City. But they’re not for the faint of heart: “You’re going to smoke your entire body,” he warns, “but the pay-off is more lean mass and a greater metabolic burn.”

You can build strength and shed flab with this 2-in-1 workout.

Do this

Perform the exercises in each round as supersets (back-to-back without rest). Start with 8 reps of each exercise, and do 1 less rep in each successive superset. Rest for 90 seconds between rounds, completing each one twice. Too difficult? Do both rounds once and then run through them again, completing as much of each as you can.



Jump squat

Place your fingers on the back of your head and pull your elbows back so they’re in line with your body. Dip your knees and then jump explosively as high as you can. When you land, immediately squat and jump again.



Get down on all fours, placing your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. Straighten your arms and legs. Lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor. Pause, and push yourself back up as quickly as possible.


Dumb-bell straight-leg deadlift

Hold a pair of dumb-bells in front of your thighs with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Hinge for ward at your hips, lowering your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. Pause, and return to the starting position.

Dumb-bell row

Holding two dumb-bells, bend at your hips and knees and lower your torso until it’s nearly parallel to the floor. (Let the dumb-bells hang at arm’s length.) Now bend your elbows and pull the dumb-bells to your sides. Pause, and slowly lower them.


Exercise photos by Beth Bischoff.