Try This 2-Move, Upper-Body Pyramid Workout From a Firefighter, No Equipment Necessary

Push-Up

Push-Up

Feel free to modify the push-ups by performing them on your knees.

  • Begin in a plank position with your arms straight and shoulders over your wrists.
  • Keep your core engaged by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.
  • Bend your elbows behind you and lower your chest to the floor. Keep your upper arms tight to your body so your elbows are against your ribs on both sides.
  • Straighten your arms, coming back to plank position.
  • This counts as one rep. Start by completing two reps, then perform two overhead shoulder presses.
  • After performing two overhead shoulder presses, increase your reps for each exercise by two. You'll repeat this until you get to 12 reps of each, then you'll go back down the pyramid, decreasing the reps performed by increments of two until you're back performing two reps of each exercise.
Samantha Brodsky

Back in October, I brought you a three-minute plank series that my boyfriend does at fire academy during some of his training sessions. I like it for two reasons: it doesn't use any equipment and it includes exercises I'm familiar with. At the same time, though, it's more challenging than you'd expect. That's why I'm a fan of another bodyweight workout my boyfriend does as a firefighter that involves two moves you've definitely done (or at least seen) before: a push-up and a kneeling overhead shoulder press.

This circuit brings heat to your triceps, chest, and shoulders and is structured as a pyramid (or ladder). You do two push-ups and two kneeling overhead shoulder presses, then four, six, eight, 10, and 12. Once you hit 12 reps of each exercise, you go back down to 10, eight, six, four, and two reps. To make the workout even harder, don't take any rest in between the exercises.

2-Move, Upper-Body Pyramid Workout

Directions: Before getting started make sure to warm up your upper body. Follow the pyramid structure for the two exercises, increasing by increments of two until you get to 12 reps, then decreasing by increments of two until you get back down to two reps. You'll start with two reps of push-ups and two reps of presses. You can do this exact structure that my boyfriend does, or you can modify it to the 2-4-6-8 structure that I like, going up to eight reps instead. Make sure to cool down afterward (try these upper-body stretches).

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: two reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: four reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: six reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: eight reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: 10 reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: 12 reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: 10 reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: eight reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: six reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: four reps

  • Push-up and kneeling overhead shoulder press: two reps

Continue reading to see instructions for and visuals of the two exercises. I hope this is the upper-body burn you were looking for! It sure is in my book.

Related:

These Are the 15 Bodyweight Exercises You Should Do to Improve Your Upper-Body Strength