I hope I didn’t offend – it’s not that I am disparaging the weights, I am saying that I don’t believe when the force applied in the work set is going to be something like, say, 185 lb in the bench press, that the same issues exist compared to a much higher weight with regards to preparation that may be needed to avoid injury.
Comparing someone whose work sets are 185 to someone whose work sets are much higher, and who both pyramid, it could be that both are fooling themselves and in fact to get best performance and to do it safely do not need to devote all the time to pyramiding that they do.
It could also be that both in fact need such pyramiding to get best performance and to do it safely.
My point was that it’s a lot more likely that the fellow benching 185 in fact does not need to do this, and is taking up a lot of time in his workout because of having gotten started with it for one reason or another and because, having done soe, he has become dependent on doing this (see previous post)
But it’s relatively unlikely that he actually needs to do it. It’s much more likely that he can learn to do his best with the work weight without all that, and entirely likely that – if the exercise is one that that individual should be doing in the first place – it can be done entirely safely without all that.
It wasn’t a knock on such weights, it was pointing out that such weights don’t have the increased injury potential that much higher weights do. Because of that increased injury potential, while by no means is such pyramiding necessary for everybody, and probably for most only in some exercises not all, it’s not unusual for it to be the way to go for a given individual for that reason.
Sort of to make an analogy, not a really good one:
Two people post to the forum saying that they think they have low testosterone because they aren’t raising as much wood lately (still are but not as much) and feel kind of in the dumps.
One is 50 years old.
The other is 17 years old. (I’m not being silly, we just had exactly such a post.)
In the case of the 50 year old, it’s fairly likely that this possible cause of the symptoms is the actual cause.
In the case of the 17 year old, while not impossible, it’s not the way to bet.
The point is, whether a thing is likely or unlikely can depend on the conditions associated with it, such as how heavy a weight is involved.
That was what I was trying (perhaps badly) to communicate, not disparagement of the weights. Any disparagement in the tone (“Jeez”) was in reference to wasting that much time in the workout when the perceived need is not a real one, which it usually won’t be in the case I described.
I see guys all the time that in an hour’s workout, say 40 minutes of it is wasted that way. Now if the fellow is working up to a really heavy weight I would be foolish to assume he is wasting his time. He may well know very thoroughly that he needs to do this. But if, to use the same example, he’s spending all this time working up to weights such as 185 in the bench and corresponding weights for other lifts, then while I can’t know he’s wasting his time on all of them, it’s the way to bet that he’s wasting a vast amount of time overall and quite possibly on every single such exercise he does it on.
And that time and energy could instead go to something productive, which isn’t done because of having been consumed with the unneeded, in that individual case, pyramiding.
I think a key part of your post was, referring to going straight to 185 from some warmup weight, “Mentally, it’s overwhelming.”
That’s exactly right, I believe. Due to not having been doing this, both the neural skills to crank it right out after being physically warm and the confidence to be able to do so have not been trained in and, actually, in the case of the confidence, have been trained OUT. It is a mental thing. But it’s a mental thing under your control, and is it a desirable mental thing to be subject to?
Unless 185 is your weight for a triple or less (and probably even if it is a weight good for two triples) I am confident that you can learn to do your best performance straight off after being physically warmed up, once having learned to do so.
One way to do that, as in the past when training people and seeing in the individual case a benefit to doing this, is to transition to gradually increasing jumps until finally able to go straight from the physically-warming weight to the work weight.
Let’s use again my example of someone who pyramids up with 95, 115, 135, 155, 185 for the same reps each set.
We don’t need to change the initial warming up weight. Why burn more energy than needed with a weight heavier than needed to get physically warm? There’s nothing wrong with using 50% of the work weight or even less to warm up.
The area to work in is improving the ability to “jump” to the final working weight. So each week, in this example, I would knock the weight of the 4th set down 5 lb. By the time it is down to 135, now the confidence is there that a “jump” can indeed be made from 135 to 185. The 4th set now becomes 185 and the second set increases to 130.
The 3rd set then decreases 5 lb per week until it’s back down to 115. At this point the third set also becomes 185.
The lifter can now almost undoubtedly not only handle the “jump” from 115 to 185 but from 95 to 185 – we don’t have to transitition for that. So the very next week, the routine can go to 95, 95, 185, 185, 185.
And then weights increase as needed according to ordinary training principles.
This is a much more productive use of time than doing 95, 115, 135, 155, 185 for same reps each set (e.g. in a 5x5 program, which to me this is not but some will call it that; or same in the last two or three) and as mentioned it’s unlikely that such pyramiding, in such a case, really is needed. It might be if we were talking much higher weights and I wouldn’t assume such a change probably needed or ought to be done if the weights were a lot higher. But with the lower weights it’s almost surely, IMO, the case.