Work It Out: The “Insane” Inverse Pyramid (HIIT)

Heavy DumbbellsFINALLY – a workout post on the blog.  Here I’ve been fatteningfueling you up to tackle and recover from some intense workouts with all of my high-protein recipes, and I haven’t given you any workout ideas to do.  Well, it’s time for that to change.  And this workout is intense enough that maybe you’ll wish I had never shared it (ha ha – no, don’t be intimidated – yes, it IS effective AND challenging, but it is very scalable for all levels of fitness).

Speaking of intimidation, I think that’s an element that can hold back many would-be exercisers.  Heck, intimidation was holding me back from writing this post!  I kept thinking that I needed to more “research” (a.k.a read more fitness/workout blogs) as to how best to “publish” this workout – the format, the instructions, etc.  But the more I read, the more I realized that everyone is doing their own “thang” and that the best thing to do is just DO IT (thanks, Nike).  That advice holds true for trying this workout (or any other) and also reminds me that I should also write a post about common “obstacles” to starting a new exercise program (or your first exercise program) and some strategies for how to overcome them.

Now, keep in mind that I am not a licensed health practitioner (and even if I was, I’m not YOUR licensed health practitioner and I don’t know YOU personally, so I suggest that you consult with one who does know you before starting this or another other new workout regime).  Read through it, ask me questions, check out videos for proper form and then just give it a go and do as much or as little as is comfortable for YOU.  Then challenge yourself to do a little bit more or go a little bit harder next time.

With no further ado, I present The “Insane” Inverse Pyramid (a.k.a. “the only workout you’ll ever need”).  This intense, interval-style pyramid combines just two compound exercises to work all of your major muscle groups AND get your cardiovascular system up and running in no time!

The “Insane” Inverse Pyramid

By: Carla Ramsay, Fitness & Nutritional Coach, via The Golden Graham Girl


This workout is a fat-blasting, high-intensity workout that combines compound exercises (those that involve more than one muscle group and movement) to work all major muscle groups in the body with explosive speed to get the heart pumping and improve cardiovascular fitness.


15-25+ minutes, depending on fitness level


– A workout mat and a towel (for wiping up sweat!)
– Sufficient space for you to do a push-up (but you don’t HAVE to do a push-up – that’s an advanced option in this routine!)


– Comfortable workout wear that will allow you to jump and move easily
– Running or cross-training shoes with proper support for jumping


Optional: perform 5-10 minutes of light cardio such as walking and any desired stretches. This workout will have your heart pumping soon enough and you can choose to do the first few rounds as “warm-up” rounds at a lower intensity.

The exercises:

A) The Burpee. If you’ve been exercising for some time, you might be familiar with this (dreaded) exercise. If you’ve never heard of it before (and no, it’s got nothing to do with belching), or just in case your idea of a burpee is different from MY idea of a burpee, let’s break it down:

Stand, squat down, jump (or step) back, back to squat, stand (or jump) with arms overhead! Photo source:
Stand, squat down, jump (or step) back, back to squat, stand (or jump) with arms overhead!
Photo source:

1. Start standing with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart in front of your exercise mat.
2. Reach your hands to the sky (advanced option: jump up with arms overhead), then squat down quickly and place your hands shoulder width apart on the mat between your knees. It’s important that you squat down by lowering your butt vs. bending at the waist, as this latter motion puts strain on your back and does not engage the muscles in the legs.
3. Jump your legs back to a push-up or plank position (beginner/low-impact option: step your feet back quickly one at a time into the push-up position).
3a. Advanced option ONLY: do a push-up.
4. Jump (or step) your legs back toward your chest so you’re back to the position in 2.
5. Use your legs to stand (or jump) explosively back up with your arms reaching overhead and you’re ready to do the next repetition starting with the squat.

Here’s a great video (note the mention of adding a push-up at 0:48): Burpee Exercise – How to do Perfect Burpees with Nick Tumminello

B) The Mountain Climber. No, you don’t need to be a billy goat for this. Here is the mountain climber, the second exercise in this pyramid:

Begin in the push-up or plank position, then alternate jumping (or stepping) the knees in. Photo source:
Begin in the push-up or plank position, then alternate jumping (or stepping) the knees in.
Photo source:

1. Begin in a push-up or plank position with your hands on your exercise mat shoulder width apart, supporting yourself with your hands directly below your shoulders and on your toes with your body in a straight line running from shoulders through hips and down to feet. Try not to allow your butt to rise up and create a “V” shape.
2. Bring your right foot forward by drawing your right knee in toward your chest and place your toes and ball of the foot on the mat. Your right knee should end up close to the inside of your right elbow. You’ll really need to engage your abdominal muscles to do this without lifting your butt. Your left leg is still extended behind you.
3. From this one-foot-forward, one-foot-back starting position, you are going to quickly switch your legs by jumping and bringing your left foot forward and extending your right foot back (beginner/low-impact option: start from the push-up or plank position and alternate pulling your knees in to your chest WITHOUT jumping).
4. One “set” involves bringing each leg forward once (a total of two jumps or step-ins).

Here’s a video of the “jumping” mountain climber (note the discussion on counting at 0:53): How to properly do MOUNTAIN CLIMBER exercise from

Reps, sets, timing and rest:

Round 1: 15 burpees / 15 mountain climbers sets (a “set” is when each leg comes into the chest once, so your legs will come in toward your chest a total of 30 times, 15 times per leg)
Round 2: 14 burpees / 14 mountain climbers sets
Round 3: 13 burpees / 13 mountain climbers sets
Round 4: 12 burpees / 12 mountain climbers sets
Continue the pattern until you reach 1 burpee / 1 mountain climber set.
Take 1-2 minutes rest, then go back up, starting with 1 burpee / 1 mountain climber set and finishing at 15 burpees / 15 mountain climbers sets. Starting with high reps, going to low reps and back up to high reps is why this is an “inverse” pyramid (“regular” pyramid workups start with low reps, go to high reps, and come back to low reps).


As described in the Exercises section, there are variations to the exercises themselves that can make this workout more or less challenging, as your personal fitness level dictates. You can also add more frequent and/or longer rest intervals or consider modifying the reps by either doing fewer rounds overall, or within each round perhaps you will choose to miss every 3rd burpee or only do half the mountain climber sets. The options are endless!


Walk around slowly or perform other light cardio activity until your heart rate comes down. Perform desired stretches for impacted muscles groups, holding each stretch for 15-30 seconds.

Try to incorporate this pyramid 2-3 times per week. As a fun challenge, time yourself for the total completion time and see if you can improve on it, or compete with friends and family. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can improve your performance if you’re consistent!

*Please note that I am NOT a licensed health practitioner.  Please consult your trusted health professional before beginning this or any other new health or exercise program.  Train smart, train safe!


2 thoughts on “Work It Out: The “Insane” Inverse Pyramid (HIIT)

  1. Pingback: (High-Protein) Mango Coconut Overnight Oatmeal | The Golden Graham Girl

  2. Pingback: The Top Five Non-Food Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight | The Golden Graham Girl

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