20-Minute Upper Body Pyramid Workout


Ready to work your upper body? Today I have a time-saving workout that will shred your back, chest, arms and core!

Pyramids are a special kind of timing sequence where we focus on one move at a time, and repeat it at timed intervals that go up and then down in length.

It’s a really popular workout format that gets requested all the time in Rock Your Life, my online home workout studio and women’s fitness community.

I invite you to show up with intention by focusing on your form, your goals and WHY you are here – and to keep that at the forefront of your mind throughout the workout.

And remember, what you do outside of your workouts is what truly makes them effective. Need a refresher on the 4 Pillars of Health? Today is a great time to check in with yourself on them, and make sure they’re all getting equal priority in your life as best you can.

When you start to get tired or want to give up, remember what I always say, it’s all or something, not all or nothing.

Grab some items for resistance – like water bottles, laundry jugs or dumbbells, and an elevated surface and join me for this awesome workout!

Did you enjoy this workout? Then you will LOVE the Warrior Woman Challenge inside of Rock Your Life! The Warrior Woman challenge is designed to strengthen your entire body with an added focus on  endurance and flexibility. If you are looking for a sculpted physique, core work and cardio you will love this one!

Upper Body Pyramids Click to expand and see all workout move descriptions

Equipment: Weighted Objects (water bottles, dumbbells, household objects), Elevated Surface
Format: Round 1: 15 seconds | Round 2: 30 seconds | Round 3: 45 seconds | Round 4: 30 seconds | Round 5: 15 seconds. Resting 15 seconds between each movement.

Pyramid 1

Move 1: Reverse Lunge with Bicep Curl

  • Begin standing with your core engaged, chest upright and holding a weight in your hands at chest level.
  • Step your right foot back behind you and begin bending your back knee until it nearly touches the ground in a 90 degree angle (ensure your knee is not shooting out over your toe and maintain an upright chest).
  • As you descend, perform a bicep curl with the opposite arm by curling the weight up to your shoulder while contracting your biceps.
  • Reverse the curl as you power through your front heel to come standing and bring your back foot to your starting position to come into a squat.
  • Return to standing and repeat a reverse lunge with your left leg and right arm.
  • MOD: Hold onto a chair or wall to help stabilize.

Bonus Move: Squat to Upright Row

  • Begin standing with your feet wider than hip distance, allowing your feet to turn out naturally.
  • Hold your weighted objects in your hands, arms hanging straight down in front of you with your shoulders back and down to counter balance the weights pulling you forward.
  • Send your hips back behind you with your core engaged, keeping your chest up tall (don’t bend forward), weight back in your heels and knees tracking in line with your toes.
  • Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes and as you power back to standing, draw your weighted objects up toward your chin, leading with your elbows. Notice the muscles working between your shoulder blades.
  • Lower your weight and repeat your squat to upright row.

Pyramid 2

Move 1: Ball (or Pillow) Pass Throughs

  • Lie on your back with your core engaged and your pillow or exercise ball between your feet.
  • With your lower back pressed slightly into the mat and your legs bent or straight, bring your legs and arms together to transfer the pillow into your hands.
  • Extend your body out by bringing your arms overhead and your legs straight out, all while keeping your lower back pressing into the mat.
  • Reverse that movement by bringing your arms and legs back together to transfer the pillow back to your feet.
  • Repeat this movement back and forth.
  • MOD: Keep your knees bent throughout this movement.

Bonus Move: Bridge Lift Hold with Chest Press

  • Start lying on the ground with your knees bent, feet on the ground, and blueberry spine activated with your weights straight over your chest while bracing your core.
  • Pressing into the ground with your heels, drive your hips to the ceiling and squeeze your glutes at the top and hold.
  • Bend your elbows and lower the weights until your arms tap the ground and then press the weights back up to return to your starting position and repeat for the allotted reps while your hips remain lifted.

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Pyramid 3

Move 1: Push-Ups

  • Begin in a tall plank position, with your hands stacked below your shoulders and your core engaged.
  • Lower yourself toward the mat by bending your elbows, keeping your shoulders away from your ears and your elbows shooting back behind you. Keep your gaze about 6 inches in front of you rather than
  • looking up or down, to maintain a neutral spine.
  • Keeping your core engaged and your shoulders away from your ears, powerfully press back up and away from the floor or elevated surface to return to your starting position.
  • MOD: Perform this on an elevated surface or from the floor and drop to a kneeling position for your push ups.
  • Check out my Push-up Progression Tutorial for tips on perfecting form and building strength!

Bonus Move: Superwoman lifts

  • Begin lying on your stomach with your arms and legs extended.
  • Lift your legs and arms off the mat together, using your lower back and glute strength.
  • Hold this position for the allotted time focusing on keeping your shoulders down and your arms lifted.
  • MOD: Begin by isolating your upper body only, leaving your legs on the mat for stability. Perform several upper body isolated lifts. Then perform several lower body isolated lifts. Work on isolated upper and lower body lifts until you feel comfortable putting them together.

Pyramid 4

Move 1: Triceps Kickbacks

  • Stand with your core engaged, chest up and a weight in your right hand.
  • Hinge forward at the hips and place your free hand on the surface in front of you to help support you, roll your shoulder blades down and back so they’re not rounding forward, allow your dumbbells to hang beneath your chest and keep your gaze neutral.
  • Pull the weight to your sides, keeping your elbows close to the body and squeezing your back muscles like you’re pinching the base of your shoulder blades together.
  • While in this row position perform a tricep kickback by kicking your arms straight back and contracting your triceps.
  • Return to your row position with control, and repeat

Bonus Move: Standing Cross Body Crunch

  • Begin standing up tall with your core engaged and holding onto something to help balance.
  • Drive your right knee up and across your midline, rotating your torso as you bring your left elbow to meet your knee.
  • Return to standing and repeat all reps on one side and then switch sides for the next round.


Cross Body Climbers (90 Seconds)

  • Begin in a tall plank position with your shoulders stacked over your hands, core engaged, and back flat.
  • Keeping your hips down, run your knees into your chest by driving your knee toward your opposite elbow and back out, one at a time.
  • MOD: Do this move on an elevated surface by placing your hand on the edge of a couch or table

Awesome job, Rockstar – I’m proud of you for giving it your all!

Leave me a comment below and let me know how you’re feeling, where you did this workout, and anything else you’d like to share!

Check out these progress shots from Kamilla, a Rock Your Life member who has had amazing, sustainable results over the past 3 years from having a supportive community, and consistent access to workout classes and challenge programs.

“I just took a look at my overall destination-less journey over 3 years yesterday and did new side by side comparisons from 3 years ago to this year. I owe it ALL to Betty Rocker. My muse, my voice of positivity, kindness and reason in my most difficult moments of commitment. All or something ladies, not all or nothing. Bree, without your slow, gentle, kind ways of eliciting sustainable behavior change that is driven from the inside out, I would not be who I am today.”

Take YOUR fitness to the next level – without having to leave your house!

Grab a 30-day Trial to Rock Your Life and get access to….

  • Dozens of 30-day Challenge plans, complete with interactive calendars and daily email push to keep you on track – you can take a new challenge every month if you like, or go at your own pace and take as long as you like to do any challenge!
  • 5 new workout classes a week that you can do from home for variety and fun! Drop in on your schedule – they’re all loaded right into your workout library to use anytime in case you’re not taking a challenge or just want to swap a workout around.
  • Choose any workout from the Class Library by body part you want to train, how much time you have and workout style – with over 1000 classes you’ll never be short of motivation to get your workout in!
  • Support from me and the Team Betty Rocker coaches, plus the other amazing women in our community in our private support group so you can check in and share the journey, make new friends, and get your questions answered!


The post 20-Minute Upper Body Pyramid Workout appeared first on The Betty Rocker.

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