T Nation

Ramping (Beating a Dead Horse, I Know)


Ive been lifting for over 10years now, and I understand the concept of ramping on compounds lifts. My whole goal is to grow my bi's larger. Ive always read and understand your bi's need to be worked differently ( meaning higher volume) So for example last night I trained the bi's with 9 sets of 3 diff exercises. After I warmed up I performed 3 straight set of 10reps with 60lbs on Alt Db curls, and then went to hammers and performed the same 3x10, and then to cable curls.

From what I understand, I should have performed sets like this: 20lbs for 10, 40lb for 10 and then 60lb for 10, and then moved to the next exercise. To me I get a much more intense workout doing 3 straight sets than I would have with ramping, because out of 9 sets only 3 sets would have been all out sets when ramping. Correct me if Im wrong here. I know that ramping is great and most big lifters ramp, and I ramp on my compound lifts, just plz educate me on why ramping is better on accessory lifts.


If your arms are lagging behind the rest of your body so much (as evident by that being your only goal) then what you've been doing so far seems to not be working? (I.E. the three straight sets)

So try ramping up the weights like you said and see how that works


The reason why bodybuilders ramp is because you lift heavier weight more intensely = growth.
those first sets are priming the muscle, joints and mind with gradually heavier weights ready for the really heavy set were you go all out and give it everything you've got.

If you are taking your sweet time doing 3 sets of the same weight, none of those sets are going to be as effective because you will be holding back on each of them, to 'keep some in the tank for the next set'. With ramping, you will be lifting heavier weight because you will not be fatigued from those other straight sets. Instead, the earlier sets are just to warm up and prepare yourself. SO as a result you will lift heavier weight and you will give it your all and not hold back.

In your example you would be lifting more than 60lb if you would have ramped. You also would be progressing faster because you would just have one set to worry about (and not 3).

If you are doing 3 whole sets of medium high reps the weight is too light for bodybuilding and you are shortcharging yourself.


I am by no means an expert here, considering my still tiny arms, but from what I've read around here, CT, while advocating ramping for most big, compound movements, sticks to higher (6-10) reps and pretty much straight sets for biceps and lats. As far as I remember he suggested doing 1-2 lighter sets for those muscles to warm them up, followed by the full weight sets.

As I said before, I'm far too inexperienced to allow myself a valid opinion of what works and what doesn't, but I've been doing it like this recently and it feels good. I usually go for about 2-4 heavier sets (i.e. not counting the 1-2 lighter "warmup" ones), depending on how I'm feeling and the weight selection. Fewer sets if I'm doing supersets/giant sets.

Most importantly, as Kingbeef said* - if what you're doing is working than it's "correct". Maybe another way would also work for you, maybe even slightly better, but don't assume what you're doing is wrong just because someone else said they do it differently.


For some reason his reply seems to have disappeared. Conspiracy?


Desroyedquads, thats exactly what I was looking for, thanks man! One more thing, when you move on to the next exercise say for me would be hammer curls, do i ramp that as well??


Most exercises that you plan on progressing fast on are usually ramped by bodybuilders. You can drop down in weight after the heavy set if you feel like you need some more volume/blood in the muscles. You can have an exercise at the end after the ramped stuff where you aim to just get as much blood and fatigue into the muscles as possible. Basically pick 2-3 exercises per muscle, at least 2 of those focus on ramping the weight up and lift the heaviest weight you can for as many reps as possible on the last set. The 3rd exercise can be the 'pump/volume' one I mentioned.

But as others have said, if you feel more comfortable doing straight sets (and you are progressing well on it) just keep doing it. It's just that most people who actually got huge ramp their weights.


You ramp because it's the most efficient way to get your cns activated and get the best quality workout by reaching the highest amount of weight. If I could go right to my working sets without a couple of warm ups I would.

Try to go right into the last set of your _______ workout and repeat it as your first set the next time you train. I bet it's hard as shit. Ramping allows your cns to gradually increase your neuro-muscular connection making you stronger/more efficient.


OP: Try pre fatiguing your bi's with less weight and sloooow reps. Once the blood is gorged into your bi's and they're properly warmed up trying to move some heavier weight. Works for me.


OP: In your over ten years of lifting you never decided to try using straight sets for say 4 months and and ramped sets for biceps for 4 months and see which works better for you?


phishfood: honestly no, because in my mind it didnt sound like it made any sense. I know ramping your bench is great because it allows you to push higher weight which in turn makes you bigger and stonger, and the next wk you try to lift a lil more, and so on. But when it came to say bi's/tri's it didnt make much sense because the bi's/tris strength gains is so little compared to larger muscle groups. My strength coach in high school had us on a program similar to the 531, and everything was in the low reps, since May ive been doin the 531 and im stronger than ever and loving the program, ive just gotta do a lil something besides straight sets like he recommends for accessory lifts.

I should have said ive lifted off and on for 10yrs meaning a couple of those yrs, i might have took 6months off.


OP if you are able to do 3 straights sets of 10 with 60lbs then you would not ramp from 20lbs to 60lbs.... You will ramp from no less than 45lbs and work your way up to about 70lbs.

If you are able to do the same number of reps on your last set, that you did on your first set using the same amount of weight, you are not pushing yourself hard enough and your biceps have no reason to grow.

Personally i choose one progression exercise to work on (free weights), and that is done at the beginning of my workout while i'm at my strongest. I do straight sets towards the end and it's been working well for me.


Makes perfect sense beef. Thanks for the input. The whole ramping with 3 different bicep exercises is kinda what threw me off.. Question for ya Beef? On your last set of ramping, whats a good number to shoot for, 8-10, what if you miss the ideal wt, drop down in wt and try again?? I know i sound novice, but ive lifted old school for way too long..


You answered your own question man, "To me I get a much more intense workout doing 3 straight sets than I would have with ramping," why would you want to ramp if you like straight sets more?

Furthermore, the point of ramping is so you can do more than 60 x 10 on that last set, why on earth you would do 20 x 10, 40 x 10, and 60 x 10 when you are strong enough to do 60 x 10, 60 x 10, 60 x 10 is beyond me. The point of ramping is to get you warmed up for that 80 x 10 set.

I do straight sets and ramping sets, these questions are frusturating to me because you said you have been lifting for 10 years and this is so basic my friend.

You know what works, do it, nobody here can tell you what works best for you, only you can make that decision so do your thing.


I started making good gains on things like standing BB bicep curls by doing a couple ramped warm up sets (not like a deadlift ramp) followed by 3 balls out rest pause sets with the same weight (approx. 10 rep max rest paused to 15 or so reps)

for the big compound movements I will never go back to straight sets.


Austin, its even more frustrating too bc of the experience i have, but the experience i have is what was drilled into me by my strength coach, Hell for biceps he'd say do 5 sets of 5 as heavy as you can go.. and that would be it, he was training pure strength but no hypertrophy.

He made a ton of kids strong, but they were not really huge in mass.


God help us!


How is "ramping" so complicated? Is it not common sense to move on to a bigger load after the one you just did hit the target reps smoothly?


Apparently it is, considering there have been 50 page thread on it - a concept as fuckin simple as this...

Top set: 200 x 10

Here's how you do a fucking ramp.

Warmup sets:
40 x a bazillion (for teh good blud flowz)

Work sets:
160 x 10
180 x 10
200 x 10

This is typical bodybuilding shit.

If you ramp up for a 1 or 3 rep max, it looks like this.

3 RM: 300

Here's how it's done.

bar x 5
75 x 3
105 x 3
135 x 3
165 x 3
195 x 3
225 x 3
255 x 3
285 x 3
300 x 3

Rocket science!


OP wrote: You answered your own question man, "To me I get a much more intense workout doing 3 straight sets than I would have with ramping," why would you want to ramp if you like straight sets more."

What does "intense" mean here? Subjective feelings of pain and fatigue and what a good work out MIGHT BE are not indicative of PROGRESS! So you can feel blasted and fatigued all you want; if this is not accompanied by progress, then you experienced unnecessary discomfort.

There have been times when I've made progress in weight training and running and didn't feel drained at all, but rather invigorated and somewhat euphoric.


if you get 60lbs for straight sets you should get significantly more on the top set of a ramp.

Ramping is not just about the rep scheme. The main purpose of it is to prepare yourself to move the most weight for the most reps (to elicit the most growth).


And training biceps is about the mind muscle connection with heavy weights in your hand. If your biceps arent doing virtually all of the movement (and you feel it happening) youre wasting your time with the weight youve just used.