T Nation

Ramping and Push/Pull/Legs Not for Me?


LONG: Apologize for length.

I've never had 3 weeks of workouts where the frequency of being pissed off and agitated with my workout was as frequent as the past 3 wherein I've adopted the HTH principles.

My previous set-up was chest/back, legs, delts/arms repeat or off.
Since incorporating ramping entailing usually 3-8 sets of 3 reps starting at 60% max and building to the highest weight I can not grind/push through the sticking points thru Ive seen the following happen:

Squats down to 385 x 3 from 405 x 5
Undergrip Chins 85 + bw x 3 to 75 + bw x 3
Bench Press down to 280 x 2 from 310 x 3
Seated DB PResses down to 110s x 3 from 115s x 5, etc. etc.

My previous workouts Ive been very successful NOT RAMPING but doing 3-5 warm-up sets of ONE not 3 reps. I typically do 3-4 sets of 3-5 on the main movement at the top weight. Prior to a workout of attempting 405 for 3 of 5 I would start at maybe 245 x 1-2, 305 x 1, 345 x 1, 370 x 1, 395 x 1.

Ive followed the overhead press first/incline/flat and even when I've done an activation exercise first then done flat 3rd, 2nd, or 1st my numbers are significantly down. I've always been able to (after dynamic stretches) jump right into my heavy sets of seated db presses. With ramping, - and starting with db press 1st in the workout, its dropped as noted significantly.

Before - I literally felt strong by jumping right into my heaviest set and the first dumbbells I touched were my top weight, peaking at 115s x 3 sets of 5 before starting the new split and ramping. Same with squat wherein I have done front squats first but even when starting with back squats and doing the long extended ramp, instead of the typically warm-up(or complete lack of for db presses) numbers are way off.

Chins are similar in that Ive been able to simply have the same or better performance with a 3-4 of 1 rep warm-up or none at all and jump right into the heavy sets of 3-4 reps at top weight.

Sorry for the length but I really would appreciate some suggestions as I wanted a change of pace and to focus a bit more on hypertrophy but what the hell, Im sick of seeing the strength Ive gained go to shit incorporating these principles.

Im tending to think I might just do better with MY type of warm-up to top weights for a few sets then incorpoate some max rep circuits, etc. Im only doing the chins in heavy style and Ive switched to the volume, circuit, performance high-rep 1 1/4 reps, isolation no rows lat routine afterwards.


Hm. That's interesting. Ramping seems to work well for all the people I know, including myself. Are you making sure to explode with every rep? Is everything else in your life as it should be? Are you eating plenty, and sleeping enough? In short: Did anything else change?

If the answer is no, maybe your body is so adapted to harder work that six to eight sets of ramping doesn't cut it. What if you tried to increase the workload by adding sets through micro increments, add a reverse ramp from the top and back down, or add one or several max rep. back off sets? Maybe that would help. I hope Thibs takes a look at this. It would be really interesting to figure it out.


CaptainCalvert: Thanks for the response.

To answer your questions, I'm pretty much eating the same, sleeping well enough, and have added some mega-dose bcaa's during the workouts (bcaa's have always worked for me) as well as the non-fatiguing neural charge workouts.

For the past year, after reading many of Chad Waterbury's concepts, I've put more of a focus on exploding with each rep and not grinding towards failure, ending sets when you notice a significant drop off in rep speed from one to the next, etc. But I've definitely upped my attention/focus towards each individual rep over these last 3-4 weeks after delving into more of CT's words.

I was thinking that possibly, utilizing the 3-4 sets of 1-2 warm-up to a top weight for 2-3 reps (or close to it - whatever felt strong) and then either repeating it several times (3-5) and/or micro-ramping up even further or wave-loading would work better for me. Rather than the extended ramp.

I've been lifting for 18 years now and have almost always used an average rep range lower than other bodybuilders (3-4 reps on major exercises for working sets = deadlifts, squats, bench, chins). So my nervous system might be a bit more efficient at activating the larger and most motor units earlier without as my standard "activation" exercises or extended ramping.

I get the whole only do what your body feels capable of that day, etc. But to be consistently off for now 4 weeks, seeing a significant drop-off in strength, is not simply due to "Well hell, I guess I'm not strong today, this week, or this month, I'll just kick ass with 10% less on all major exercises! Just explode through all reps, you'll be fine!" Prior to this I did have specific weight increase goals per exercise - especially squats, bench, chins, presses - and really had not experienced significant stalling in adding more weight at the same reps for those exercises.


i had the same thing, i found i wasn't exploding with the reps even though i thought i was. explode with like everything you have. Also i found that going a little bit slower with the eccentric helped.

Its about mechanical loading he says and to me that means you got to get your work from more sets or different exercises.

I do my ramping and when im done i pick a weight and do 10 sets of 3 to 5 reps with little rest (rest while my brother is doing his set).

Finally what i really think helped was activation workouts, i do them almost everyday only take 10-15 mins and ever since my strength is going up every week.


I think it would be wise to still think in terms of goals. For me it's simple. The goal for the session is to always, in some form or other, do more work than the last time. Usually that happens, but if progress is not there I try to be diciplined, so that I don't go chasing it with grinders or bad form.

On a personal note I actully find that to be one of the most challenging aspects of this type of training, and I also see it with some clients. Especially on the bench press some people have a really hard time avoiding the grinders. Sometimes I even yell at them to stop to no avail. The result is almost always that progress is meager in the next session. It can easily turn into a vicious circle.


I concur with you about the going to failure vs. not point

Ever since I began reading about HST- hypertrophy specific training back in 2003 I've been adamant, as well, with not going to failure in my training. THis also extends to those I've coached/trainer (I've worked as a PT as well since 1996 after earning my BS in exercise science/pharmacology). I NEVER use a spotter on any exercise, even bench and always keep in mind to leave 1 or 2 reps in me not only for safety, but to not overtax the nervous system.

I got back up to 405 for 2 good explosive reps yesterday. I decided to do a ramp but only use 1-2 reps and it seemed to work better. I followed that up with a max force ramp to 305 for 3 on front squats - felt damn good.

One thing I've noticed with my lower body workout - either squats, front squats, deadlifts, and max rep sets is that I feel incredibly good after the workout. THis despite my strength regression. The activation jump squats, box jumps, etc and ramping (with 1-2 or 3 reps) really seem to prime my nervous system for much more "enjoybable" performance. Simply meaning before without the extended ramping or activation exercises my lower body workout was exhausting, especially when I followed with drop sets which I've - no pun intended - dropped - or giant sets. I Do not feel this amped and charged with the "high", so to speak, after my upper body workouts. I think part of that is due to the more overall nervous system stimulation that having a 400 bar on your back and driving it up to standing position initiates vs. laying down and pressing weights.

I also think, for me - I would do better with a separte horizontal pressing workout and a vertical pressing workout rather than combining the two.


That's exactly how I work with my people. I always tell them that, given that they train within the framework of the principles they have learned from me, the need for a spot means they've failed miserably. Sometimes to start with they worry that the work we're doing isn't hard enough, but when their training logs show progress week after week they tend to become more trusting.

Good to hear! I'm sure it's not the principles that are at fault here. It's probably just a matter of finding the right volume and frequency. It seems like you're back on track. I also feel damn good ramping the big lifts by the way. The deadlift especially gives me an energy boost that almost makes me a little manic.


If your fairly used to straight sets style training, it can take a while for your body + mind to be able to adapt enough to really "push" yourself in that last ramped set to create the stimulus you need, if you know what I mean?

Stick with it.


dont know for the strength, because real 1RM is i think far from my last ramped set where i stop as soon as i notice slight grinding... but i gained like 6kg in last 3 weeks of bodyweight, my abs are still visible like before, so its not a LOT of fat even if there is some gained... the weights feel lighter... so probably strength is up too... but i think its too early to judge strength gains after only a couple of sessions, i belleive i still dont even know what i do, i'm just trying to copy what i see/read... so i really think that its too early... anyway i like 6 gained kilos + the lighter feeling of same weights, so for me it does the job...

BTW after 18 years of training I think it's a little bit too much that you expect immediate strength gain... shit, I benched 235kg (200x3) raw at 90kg... i dont really expect to jump to 250+ just like that... even with more muscle tissue... its too much weight... and it takes more than that i think...


gavra: It's not that expect immediate strength gains as I concur that your 1st or 2nd year of training is going to allow for much greater workout-to-workout strength increases vs. your 18th year. However, note that I was mentioning the LOSS of strength - significant strength across the board in core exercies (squat, press, bench, chin). Also, I made the point in my originial post that I was able to increase weight pretty consistenly from workout to workout when I did not use ramping/push-pull-legs split and when I utilized a quicker warm-up with more sets/reps at a top weight.

From My Original Post: "Prior to this I did have specific weight increase goals per exercise - especially squats, bench, chins, presses - and really had not experienced significant stalling in adding more weight at the same reps for those exercises. "

To simply adopt the attitude that you're never going to be concerned with weight is not the best overall approach. I sort of mocked the concept of just load the bar with whatever weight you can dominate - as long as your exploding b/c mass = force x acceleration you'll be bro-huge in no time! However, eventually if you're accelerating as maximal speed - AT THE SAME RATE - if you don't somehow reach a higher "mass" to accelerate you're average max force per workout can only increase through increased volume and/or density (same weight + same acceleration x same set/rep formate in less time).


Some things I've incorporate that seem to work better for me:

I've used a quicker ramp towards top weights. Then when I've reached at or near what I can maximally move and still feel strong with/no sticking points I've either repeated the weight 2-3 times or done a much slower ramp (2.25 to 5 pounds). Ive also used lower reps overall on both warm-ups/ramping and/or work sets(1-3 instead of always 3). Additionally, I've found that partials from pins to be awkward more than activationg so I've started to use a 18lb medicine ball and done ball slams, lying pullover throws, soccer throws, incline explosive push-ups for activation exercies. Another thing is not necessarily doing 3 pressing movements in sequence every workout - I've taken care of my shoulders and they were fine going into this so I have no problem starting with dips or flat bench or floor press instead of overhead presses. I think I've seen some variations of splitting the overhead/incline/flat to separate workouts here and it working for other T-Nation members.


I dont get it... why do you think acceleration is going to be the same every time? Whenever I was concerned with the mass I move, and I moved it a lot (from the age of 19-24 never had a workout below 200kg bench at 85-90kg bodyweight, i'm 25 now) i stalled, i mean almost 5 years i was hovering at the same bodyweight/bench press... going up and down... and I really think I'm going to do something with HTH since my 85% weights are flying... and in some time i'll go for new maximums... but that doesnt mean I have to train with my maximums all the time...

your max is not the same every day, so is not your 80%, so is not your max force point... you train to your max force point for the day...

i dont care if you gonna do this or not, and i'm not trying to convince you it works or it's good... but where do you get the same mass, same acceleration thing... it cant be the same even if you want it...



do what works better... sometimes i also do singles instead of triples... since i'm much more powerfull on my first rep i noticed... it is really a perfect rep, everything being in place technique wise + acceleration...


Gavra: Thanks for your comments. My point with acceleration is at some point you're going to reach the maximum in terms of how much you can accelerate with a given weight regardless of what that weight actually is. So the mass has to eventually increase - given that you have reached the highpoint of your ability to accelerate that weight - for the Force(mass x acceleration) to be greater. But I digress...

Because I'm really enjoying training this way more and more and it's starting to pay dividends in terms of progress. The initial overhaul of my split and set/rep, warm-up progression scheme, I believe, simply did (and will continue) to take time to adapt to this. As it does - and is - I am starting to see the strength increases and gains. A lot of the ideas - especially the neural charge workouts which I'm doing almost daily and sometimes twice a day - are truly enjoyable. For me, the experience of training this way and the anticipation I have going to the gym and the lack of exhaustion (in fact I usually feel charged up afterwards) is addictive. That experience, regardless of the mass/strength gains, is actually more important to me. So I'm learning, adapting, and being open-minded to learn from people's experiences here, CT, and giving this everything I got because its starting to get more consistently enjoyable.