Quick Profile: Two Pyramids Plus Two Inverse Pyramids

Bill Pierce does it again with another creative, fun, and challenging profile. This ride consists of climbing two pyramids and two inverse pyramids, each one slightly different. The goal is to develop the attributes used in climbing, and muscular endurance at sub-threshold and threshold levels of power.

As riders progress up the pyramid, the duration gets progressively shorter and then gets longer on the way down. An inverse pyramid does the opposite. Its top is the longest, it comes down to a short bottom, and then goes back up as it lengthens. This profile is a continual climb with very little recovery in between the hills since all of the work is done in Zone 3 and Zone 4, sub-threshold and threshold efforts.
Two of the pyramids maintain constant power while manipulating cadence and resistance, and two keep cadence constant while changing resistance and, thus, power. Below is the breakdown for each pyramid:

  • The first pyramid varies resistance at constant power. Resistance increases on the up side and decreases on the down side. In order to maintain constant power, cadence must also change.
  • The second pyramid is an inverse (upside-down) pyramid, which also varies resistance while maintaining constant power. Cadence increases as resistance decreases while going down, and then cadence decreases as resistance increases while coming back up.
  • The third pyramid increases power while maintaining near-constant cadence. It brings power up to threshold on the up side and then back down to Zone 3 on the down side.
  • The fourth pyramid is an inverse pyramid and is the toughest of all of them, varying resistance and power while maintaining near-constant cadence. It starts at threshold before coming down to Zone 3, then heads back up and finishes at threshold. 

To shorten for a 45-minute class, remove the second or third pyramid. Either way, you will have two in a row that are the same direction. That is fine, as it’s best to end with the hardest one (pyramid #4).


  1. Author

    I’m modifying my playlist creation process a bit this year. Rather than mixing my own music using Mixmeister, I’m simply compiling and playing it directly from Spotify. Since Mixmeister requires that you own the music, and I only buy songs I like, my playlists have traditionally been based on my own eccentric tastes. Using Spotify, I don’t have to purchase the music so I can use more accessible tunes preferred by my riders. I created a new playlist for this profile using this method:
    Lots of variety with most of the songs fairly mainstream. Spoiler Alert: One of the songs is next week’s Friday Favorite.

    The songs can be mapped to this profile as described below.
    2 Pyramid Hills + 2 Inverse Pyramid Hills V3
    Intro – Warm-up
    Party With Children – Ratatat 3:00
    breathin – Ariana Grande 3:00 100 rpm
    1st Hill – All Zone 3 – 3@75, 2@65, 1@55, 2@65, 3@75
    It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye 3:00
    Big Me – Foo Fighters 2:00
    Blue Turning Gray – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah 1:00
    William, It Was Really Nothing – The Smiths 2:00
    Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison 3:00
    2nd Hill – All Zone 3 – 3@55, 2@65, 1@75, 2@65, 3@55
    1234 – Feist 3:00
    Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown 2:00
    Declare Guerre Nucleaire – The Hives 1:00
    Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival 2:00
    Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry 3:00
    3rd Hill – All 65 rpm – Z3/Z4/Z5/Z4/Z5
    Love So Soft – Kelly Clarkson 3:00
    Song 2 – Blur 2:00
    In Love With A Camera – The Struts 3:00 (1,2)
    Sexy And I Know It – LMFAO 3:00
    4th Hill – All 65 rpm – Z4/Hi Z3/Z3/Z4/Hi Z4 and Z5
    Shut Up and Dance – WALK THE MOON 3:00
    This Old Heart Of Mine – The Isley Brothers 3:00 (2,1)
    Closer – D’Mixmasters 2:00
    Bodies – Drowning Pool 3:00
    Cool Down
    Death in Midsummer – Deerhunter
    Element – Deerhunter
    Plains – Deerhunter
    Greenpoint Gothic – Deerhunter

  2. this is intriguing – can’t wait to try it – spirit-wise, legwise i’m afraid – in a good way!

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