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!