Barlates: Pyramid Upper Body

Wow. This was a tough and excellent workout! A little different from what I have become accustomed to with Barlates workouts, but I still loved it. Linda has done some other excellent strength workouts using heavier dumbbells but, other than Back Strength, nothing this comprehensive (that I have done yet, that is). It is based on the pyramid principal of increasing the weight of your dumbbells with each set. Linda does a full pyramid for each muscle group–first increasing the weight, then decreasing it back down. So 5 exercises are done for each muscle group. BTW–Linda was really suffering through this workout–it was challenging her and burning out her muscles, too. I did this workout in combination with her Pyramid Lower Body–so between the two, I got a total body strength workout that really burned out every single muscle group. Right now, nearly two hours after completing this workout, my shoulders and back are still burning and I am sure I will have DOMS everywhere tomorrow. I was really pleased that she gives the back extra work–more than the 5 exercises every other muscle group gets. Linda knows what is important!

I did this workout from Linda’s DVD that I purchased: Upper Body Light and Heavy, but it is also available for free on YouTube. I will post the entire DVD review at a later date when I do the other 3 workouts on it (I don’t believe those 3 are available on YouTube, just this one).

A few things thing to note, if you are using more than 3 sets of dumbbells, you need to have your exercise/weight chart nearby. This workout moves at a fast clip with only 10 seconds between each exercise, so you need to be able to quickly see what weights you need for each muscle group. Since you are using the ball for some of the exercises, I had to pause the DVD between muscle groups twice to gather my DBs around where I was sitting with the stability ball. Also, just like in Back Strength, when you get to the back exercises, you spend a lot of time bent over, which starts making my lower back ache. So I modified by sitting on the ball and leaning forward for all of the bent over back exercises. Finally, keep in mind that you are only getting 10 seconds of recovery between each exercise and you are doing each exercise for a full 50 seconds. That makes this a high rep, endurance level workout, so you will not be able to lift super heavy on any of the exercises. I know I overshot what I thought I could lift on several exercises and had to drop to a lower weight to complete the 50 seconds.

Pyramid Upper Body is 31 minutes long; 1 minute intro, no warm up and 2 minute stretch. Equipment needed: at least 3 sets of dumbbells (Linda uses 3, 5 and 8 pound dumbbells), a stability ball and something firm to press the ball against–like a wall. You will be doing 5 exercises for each muscle group except your back–you will do 8 back exercises but the last 3 are unweighted exercises on the ball. Each exercise is done for 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.


  1. Side lateral raises (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Bent arm side lateral raise into overhead press at a 45 degree angle (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  3. Bent arm side lateral raise (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Overhead press @ 45 degrees (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  5. Straight arm side lateral raises, palms facing back wall (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)


  1. Sitting on floor, back against ball and ball against wall, hold arms straight in front of you then bend elbows bringing DBs in close to chest/ribs (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Seated hammer curls (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  3. Seated traditional bicep curls (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Seated alternating hammer curls, twisting DB at top (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  5. Arms straight ahead, bend elbow bringing DB toward shoulder; alternate arms (still seated) (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)


  1. Overhead pulsing tricep extensions while sitting on ball (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Full overhead tricep extensions while sitting on ball (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  3. Cross tricep extensions still sitting on ball (arms overhead, bring DB down in front of face toward shoulder); alternate arms (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 10# DBs)
  4. Repeat #2 but w/ a tempo change (down to 1 count, up to 3 count) (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 8# DBs)
  5. Repeat #1 but alternate arms (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)


  1. Seated chest flys (sitting w/ back against ball and ball against wall, bring DBs from the ground at sides of body to together in front of chest) (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Cross presses (still sitting, arms bent–start w/ elbows against ball then press forward, crossing arms in front of chest (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  3. Incline chest press (incline torso against ball and press DBs in front/overhead) (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Incline chest fly (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  5. Alternating incline chest press (same as #3 except alternating arms fast) (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 8# DBs)


  1. Bent rear delt flys (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  2. Alternating rear delt flys (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 7# DBs)
  3. Alternating bent arm rear delt fly (Linda uses 8# DBs, I used 12# DBs)
  4. Straight arm rear delt flys w/ palms facing in front of you (Linda uses 5# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  5. Double arm row but at top of row, open arms into rear delt fly (Linda uses 3# DBs, I used 5# DBs)
  6. Back extensions w/ belly on ball (no DBs)
  7. Leg extensions w/ hips on ball and hands on floor (no DBs)
  8. Alternating arm/leg raises w/ bell on ball (lift opposite arm/leg) (no DBs)

For more info on Barlates and other (free) streaming workouts I’ve sampled and reviewed, check out my Streaming page.







5 thoughts on “Barlates: Pyramid Upper Body

  1. Thanks for your review! I have had Upper Body Light and Heavy in my Amazon cart for a while, and I am definitely getting it now! I have pyramid lower and also Linda’s old school workout DVD, which is is more traditional weight lifting and a bit of a departure from her barre work. Really anything she does, I love;-)


    1. The Upper Body Light & Heavy looks awesome doesn’t it? I’ve only done one so far, but I have lots of ideas how to use all of the workouts on that DVD once I sample them all. I have seen Linda’s Old School DVD and have considered getting it. I probably will one day but with all of my Cathe workouts, I decided to wait. But like I said, it is only a matter of time I am sure. I am doing some serious Barlates hoarding.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s