The Effects of a College Off-season Squat Program on Strength Adaptations: Ascending Pyramid Method vs. Traditional Set Method

Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Exercise Science



First Advisor

Brenda Davies


During the collegiate off-season there is a limited amount of time spent with the strength coach to achieve muscular gains due to schedule challenges. Strength coaches typically use variations of a Traditional Set method to achieve the ideal volume needed to increase muscular strength and hypertrophy. Ascending pyramid training has been proposed as an alternative method to induce strength gains. Due to the lack of information on this training method in a college sports environment, this study sought to compare the strength improvements in the 1RM back squat of a Division III college men’s soccer team using an ascending pyramid and traditional set method during their off-season training block. It was hypothesized that collegiate soccer athletes would achieve a greater increase in the squat strength using ascending pyramid training. Nineteen collegiate male soccer athletes from a single Division III team were recruited for this eight-week study. The participants were split into either a pyramidal training group or a traditional training group. Following the eight weeks, the average percentage of improvement for the ascending pyramid method group was 14% (p = 0.01) and 9% (p = 0.02) for the traditional set method, with both being statistically significant. An independent t-test identified that the percent improvement between the groups were not different (p = .21). These results suggest that both types of training programming promote similar improvements in squat strength. This study helps to further improve the strength training periodization of an off-season sports team.

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