T Nation

Neural Ramping Troubles


Hey Thibs, I've been using the neural ramping method that you've outlined in countless articles and posts for several weeks and have a few concerns.. What I've noticed is that I either have to sacrifice volume if I want to hit my top weight OR make smaller jumps and not hit my max training weight. Below are 3 examples from my log of what incline bench @ 5 reps looks like:

Neural Ramp with max weight - accelerating concentric

115x5, 135x5, 155x5, 175x5, 195x5, 210x5 - Stopped, would not get another set of 5

Neural Ramp with higher volume - accelerating concentric

115x5, 135x5, 155x5, 175x5, 185x5, 190x5, 195x5, 200x2 - Stopped before grinding

Using straight sets it looked like - normal concentric

115x5, 135x 5, 165x3, 185x2, 195x1, 205x5, 205x5, 205x5, 205x3 - Stopped, would've failed on the next one

... I know that this is a very limited amount of info for a coach to work with, but do you have any suggestions for me to strike a balance between hitting a certain volume while getting closer to my max weight? Thanks!


Hi. not CT but...

the first of the 3 'methods' allowed you to reach the highest weight... why not just stick with that method?

what does your workout look like? if the issue is getting enough volume in, you shouldnt try to get it in the ramp, you just want to reach a max working weight and compound the volume with different intensity techniques like cluster sets etc following the ramp.


The purpose of ramping is to hit a peak performance (violent precision with each rep, dominate each rep, initiate each rep with maximum force and maintain acceleration all the way through the range of motion to name a few), with enough volume (pertaining to the ramping of that specific movement) to stimulate the training effect you're after. I don't approach a ramp with any specific number of sets or weight in mind I'm shooting for.

I start at a load that is around 50-60% of my 3 rep max (I don't use a 1 rep max because there is huge differential for me between 3 reps and 1 rep, meaning I can hit a top 1 rep weight that is much higher than I can do for even two reps). I've found this to be a better guide for me and it also decreases my chances of going too heavy. I too, get caught up in chasing weight, from time to time. This is a way for me to keep myself in check in that regard.

I generally increase load consistently across the board for the first part of the ramp (20 pounds or so...depending on the movement), then drop the increments a bit lower. I always take the approach of doing an "extra" set with a small jump in weight (sometimes I'll do the same weight twice if I don't feel I dominated it or was sloppy). This not only boosts volume a bit, but it also increases confidence, which can be critical if it's a movement you're not naturally good at (for me it's dead lifts--I truly suck at the traditional ones lol).

I just continue in this fashion until my body tells me I'm done. To be honest, I rarely count reps or sets anymore and aim to go by instinct and feel each rep and each set, including how much I increase and sometimes decrease weight from set to set.

The above pertains to a basic ramp, in which the same number of reps is executed each set. If I were to continue on in a lower rep bracket (5 reps to 3 reps for example), my mind set would be the same, but the loading methods would change a bit.

If you focus on quantifying the lift in terms of numbers and volume too much, I believe it eliminates the most critical aspect of the ramp---the experience and feel.

When you ramp properly, there's a point within the ramp where it feels as if a switch is flipped, and performance continues to climb consistently for the rest of the ramp and end at the perfect time. This will of course be dependent on the working state of your body and mind that day.

In my opinion, one must be totally immersed in the moment of each REP of each set to truly reap the benefits of the ramp. This also applies to other rep methods depending on the intended purpose of the movement, the rep method being used and the number of reps your doing. It's pretty much impossible to be completely in the moment and 100% focused for a set of high reps. For me, that's about anything over 6 reps, for others it's higher.

I hope that was helpful Zonaguy10. I'm sure CT will have a very good answer for you.
Keep busting your ass!


These two lines really struck a chord with me. Admittedly, I focus waaaay too much on the quantifiable aspects of this stuff (as I suspect a lot of others do as well..) and almost neglect the performance and feel aspects of it. That isn't to say that I don't train hard, but I guess I'm just not training as smart as I think I am when I worry about things like maximizing weight lifted in an optimal volume range. Thanks for the reply, John! Hopefully I can overcome my OCD tendencies and successfully apply this stuff to my training haha.