Pyramid Ladder Run / Walk Drill

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This is a good drill for improving both work capacity and speed-endurance (the ability to make repeated max or near-max efforts without slowing down). It uses a positive pyramid for the first half of the run and a negative pyramid for the second half. Use longer distances (100-200 yards) when working on aerobic capacity. Use moderate distances (50-75 yards) when working on stamina. And, use shorter distances (30-50 yards) when working on speed-endurance. To execute the drill, first decide on your goal and then mark off your distance (100 yards for pitchers; 60 yards for position players).

  1. A pitcher starts by striding down 100 yards at 80-85% of max speed, stops and walks back. This is “two legs,” i.e. down and back is two legs.
  2. After walking back, he strides two legs (200 yards; down and back) and walks a leg (100 yards).
  3. After walking back, he strides three legs (300 yards; down, back and down again) and walks a leg (100 yards).
  4. Next, he strides four legs (400 yards; down and back, down and back) and walks a leg (100 yards).
  5. At this point, the positive pyramid is finished. Now we reverse the pyramid by running three legs and walking one.
  6. Then run two legs and walk one.
  7. Finish by running one leg and walking one.

The run consists of 23 total legs. Sixteen (16) of the legs will be run and seven (7) will be walked. A 100-yard drill covers 2300 yards (1.3 miles). A 60-yard drill covers 1380 yards (.78 miles). This is a very time-efficient drill. If you run relatively hard, you can complete the longer run (1.3 miles) in 10-12 minutes and get a lot out of it. The 60-yard run should take no more than 7-8 minutes. The harder you run, the more you will get out of the drill.


Gene Coleman, Ed. D., RSCC-E, FACSM, was the Head S&C Coach for the Houston Astros from 1978-2012 and is currently a strength and conditioning consultant for the Texas Rangers and Professor in the Exercise and Health Sciences Program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake.


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