Two pyramids inverted with blue sky in the background

Reverse Pyramid

  • A nice variation on classic interval sessions
  • Perfect for the track

Reverse Pyramid sessions are a good way of adding a bit of variety to interval sessions. By adjusting rep length and recoveries a host of training goals can be achieved.

The Session

A reverse pyramid session involves starting with a rep at a certain time or distance, then decreasing the time/distance of each successive rep until a minimum (i.e. the tip of the upside-down pyramid) is reached. Rep time/distance then increases until it reaches the starting point again.

By adjusting the length of reps and recoveries a variety of goals can be achieved with reverse pyramid sessions.

The main benefit of reverse pyramid sessions is that beginning with a longer rep can help the runner to temper their pace. Going off too fast is often a problem with standard interval and pyramid sessions. Reverse pyramid sessions can also be psychologically tougher than standard pyramid sessions since the length of each rep starts increasing towards the end of the session when you're beginning to get tired.

They also offer the benefit of variety. The simple fact that they are different from traditional interval sessions, where each rep is the same length, is useful in itself. Variety can help avoid boredom and it's even been suggested that it can help prevent overtraining.


Standard Pyramid

If you fancy un-reversing the session, then try a standard pyramid session instead.

Real World Examples

A good example of a reverse pyramid session to work on speed would be to start with a 30-second rep and work down in 10-second increments to a 10-second rep, then work back up again. Since running fast requires one to be well-rested, recoveries should be long. Perhaps as long as 5-6 times rep length. So you'd be taking a three-minute recovery after the 30-second rep and a minute's recovery after the 10-second rep.

A good VO2 Max session could be to start with a 5-minute rep, work down in increments of 1 minute to a 2-minute rep and then back up, taking half the previous rep time as recovery. So, you'd be taking 2 minutes and 30 seconds of recovery after the first 5-minute rep and a 1-minute recovery after the 2-minute rep.


As a general rule you should be keeping a consistent pace for each rep, regardless of length.

Consider the total volume of running you'll be performing when designing a reverse pyramid session. When the reps are different lengths it's easy to lose track and end up doing too much or too little. The best approach is to try and equal the overall volume you would complete in a standard interval session.

It's best to vary recovery according to the length of the previous rep. For speedy sessions, when complete - or almost complete - recovery is important, you'll need more time to recover as rep length increases. For VO2 max sessions, you only want partial recovery between reps, so it's important that recovery is not too long after shorter reps or you will not be getting full benefit.


Remember to warm up before your session and cool down afterwards.