Pyramid training is a great way to increase strength and get noticeable improvements in muscle tone in a very short amount of time. Remember, strength training is the solution to long-term fat loss too, by enabling you to increase your lean mass and reduce the overall percentage of body fat.
Pyramid training incorporates an increasing amount of weight/intensity with each set of repetitions. One of my all time favorite training routines that utilizes this approach is known as a "1/2 pyramid with a double pump" This is also the rep/set pattern recommended for anyone doing the Body-for-LIFE program.
For each exercise, systematically increase the weight load as you decrease the number of repetitions completed. You should reach your maximum weight load when doing the lowest number of reps (6 in this workout).
Then reduce the weight back down but increase the number of reps back to 12 and follow it up immediately with a separate exercise that works the same muscle group to really fatigue the muscle to exhaustion (this is the "double pump"). Sound confusing? It's really not once you try it out a couple times. I assure you that the changes you'll start to see in your physique when using this technique consistently will be well worth the willingness to try it out.
Free weights, machines, and home workout equipment can all be used to design pyramid training routines. I'm giving you a couple of my own personal workouts to show you what this type of routine looks like. The last couple reps of each set should be difficult, but you shouldn't lose form. Use trial and error to find what weights work for you to complete the corresponding number of reps throughout the workout. Record your workouts to learn what works for you and monitor your progress over time.