T Nation

Advised Number of Sets in a Ramp


Now I know that this obviously depends on how you are feeling on the given day, and other factors such as rep ranges and such. But how many sets do you generally recommend on a ramp.

Sometimes I'll end up starting way too light and I'll do a whole lot of sets, taking a very very long time. (with either rep ranges at 4 or 8 or somewheres in between)

Also, I remember reading that ramping obviously works best with exercises within that 6 rep range (give or take a couple reps). What do you recommend for rep ranges higher than that, as far as ramping goes. (from 8-20 reps, ramping probably doesn't work to well here lol)


I beleive the recommendation is to start at around 70% of your max when you're ramping. Remember that if you are starting light they aren't wasted sets as long as you are accelerating as fast as possible (or trying to accelerate)


I don;t think there is a recommended number of sets.

Some things I've noticed

If you start your ramp at 60% higher rep ranges = fewer sets and lower ranges = more sets. Of course this still varies day to day.

I think the limit of 6 reps (or was it 8) was because residual fatigue builds up too quickly with higer reps limiting force output. Higher reps may be more suited to a max rep circuit.

I generally hit 20% for 2-3x3 explosively for activation
40, 50, 60% feeler sets for 1x3, then start jumping the weight up in 20-30lb increments until the set starts to grind.

Have to say I love ramping and it makes training volumes so easy to manage.


I usually micro ramp (CT's method).

So I start at about 60% for my main movement of the muscle group I'm training, and ramp up with 2.5 - 5Kg increments of 3 reps till I reach my work set. It's usually between 10-12 sets.

Then move onto assistance exercises (usually about 5-6), doing only 1 work set for each, going as hard as possible. No warm-up or ramping. Usually aiming for between 7-15 reps for each exercise.

And about 30min incline walking, that's me, done.

This is much lower in volume then I used to do a few months ago. I used to ramp before every exercise, working myself into the ground and not being able to fully recover. This seems to be more within my recovery range, and I'm seeing results in strength and growth.



Okay so, how exactly do you determine, on any given day, what you're going to use for a weight for an exercise that you don't ramp.

I learn well from reading examples, if anybody cares to give one.


Autoregulate and go by how you feel. It is better to start lighter and work your way up however than start too heavy for rep target. Or for a max reps set use 70% of the weight you worked up to on the ramp (should allow ~8-12 reps).


For my main exercises it looks a bit like this.

2-3 feel sets, like 8-10 reps, real light.

1-3 feel sets, 6-8 reps, depending on the rep range of the exercise

begin the ramp, for about 6-10 sets.

My assistance exercises, usually 1 light set, and 2-3 work sets (sometimes 4)


start using 1 rep for feel sets. Maybe one or two light sets at the beginner to get warmed up and then you get used to the heavier weights by doing singles up to the weight that you will start your ramping


6-10 reps is too high for ramping. Ramping is best done for stuff under 6 reps. Personally I do not really ramp up with more than 5 reps, I might do 1-2 lighter sets, but not a full ramp.


I usually shoot for 7-15 reps on assistance exercises, so from your own past experiences, you should know what weight will land you in the desired rep range. And from there you will know what to set the weight at for the following time you do the same exercise.

I don't think you can use percentages or random numbers to tell you what the weight should be, it's just something you need to keep track of yourself.



I guess I'm not fully understanding the right ways to ramp or warm-up at the different types of rep ranges. At low rep ranges like 3-5, it's easy to understand, but any higher rep ranges than that and I'm not really sure what to do.

Especially if you are using a rather high weight for a higher rep range.


I'll try to make it clear.

RAMPING refers first and foremost to a progressive activation (ramping up) of the nervous system to help you lift more weight. The actual application of this is also a form of ramping in that you are gradually increasing the weight from set to set.

BUT keep in mind that the important thing is to optimize the working state of the nervous system, not the actual act of gradually adding weight. The MORE A SET IS DEPENDENT ON THE WORKING STATE OF THE NERVOUS SYSTEM, THE MORE EFFECTIVE RAMPING IS.

The nervous system is most important with loads/rep styles where force output is maximal. This means that it works best either with heavy weights or explosive movements.

Sets of 6-10 reps are too "light" (in relation to your maximal strength) to be heavily reliant on the nervous system. And as such this rep range doesn't really require or responds well to ramping.


Because the goal of ramp is to gradually increase your performance capacity from set to set. In essence, your last set should be the set where you are able to perform at your best.

To get better and better from set to set requires the interplay of two variables: activation and fatigue; both are created with every set.

Every set you do creates some fatigue and causes some activation.

The goal is to create as much activation as possible with as little fatigue as possible.

Higher reps cause more fatigue (more work) and activate the nervous system less (less force output). So the end result is that it is hard to get a significant increase in performance potential when using higher reps.

So I recommend NOT ramping when doing higher reps. Perform 1 or 2 lighter sets (e.g. at 75 and 90% of the weight you want to use for our sets) then jump right into it. Obviously if you are doing a big movement in which you can handle a lot of weight (e.g. if you plan on using 600lbs for 10 reps on the squat) then you might add a few more lighter sets to get the body prepared, but this is not really ramping.


Okay thank you that was very helpful.

What would you suggest for reps on the 1-2 lighter sets before a high rep set? Keep it low?


Does nobody go by feel these days, I mean fuck.


What do you expect. I come to this site and read a thousand different ways to work out and I can't help but wonder what is the most efficient way.


Thibs explains everything very nicely. Basically the more you get in the zone (the more the working state of the nervous system is engaged), the more you will get out of each rep during your sets. This obviously only works best with lower rep ranges, where you actually "feel" the reps, rather than count them.

That said, you don't really count sets as much as you want to feel the weight gradually become "lighter" when you potentiate the nervous system more. Adjust the number of sets/reps based on how you feel. On days you feel like crap, you may want to do take the more volumized approach. Otherwise, take advantage of those days you feel in the zone, and go for heavy-dominant rep ranges (2,3,4,5) where you can be explosive on every rep--assuming you ramp correctly (not too much or too little).

This is where knowing your body and what it responds best to really becomes important--hence the training strategy of autoregulation supported by Thibs.


Nah I was just saying man, this is a very individualistic question and probably would be best learnt on your own.


I understand. I think I'm just going to keep doing what I do. Don't fix it if it ain't broke, right?


Yes sir, that's my motto! Keep it up.


I remember CT writing about this approach in a thread somewhere on this board (micro ramping main excercise then following up with a series of 1 max rep set on several assistance excercises), but I cant seem to find it anymore. You wouldnt happen to know where he posted it?