T Nation

Ramping Reps Instead of Weight


Hi All,

  Not sure if this has been covered somewhere on the site or forum before, I have searched extensively to no avail. My question is this:

If one wishes to ramp their sets instead of using straight sets, can one ramp the number of reps instead of the load? Or rather, would ramping reps - while keeping the load constant - produce the same physiological results as ramping the load while keeping the rep range the same.

For example: 3 sets of Bench Press - 200x8, 200x10 and then finally 200x12 (or something similar).

As opposed to: Bench Press - 150x12, 175x12 and finally 200x12 (or something similar).

Just to be clear: I am not asking if ramping is superior to straight sets and I am not wishing to discuss pyramid routines (where both the load and number of reps descends and/or ascends). I am asking, if one intends to ramp to an all out blast set, can it be done by ascending reps rather than ascending load? Because I honestly can not find any information dealing with this question.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!! Cheers


Why in the world would you want to "ramp your reps?" It's not making sense to me.


Why does one ramp at all? To go all out on just one or two sets of an exercise.


Ramping allows your CNS to ramp up, basically its a neural exercise of building up your physiological, nervous and many other tissues and systems as they adapt to the load. Your getting stronger during the workout itself and it allows for auto-regulation ie. some days you wont be as strong as you were the time before, so for example you benched 185x5, 200x5, 220x5 and the next week you dont feel as strong on 200x5, so that means you can load that area by keeping on doing 200x5 or 3. Or even ramping back down the weights.


I think you need to ramp your common sense up, OP.


Do you believe the sets prior to one or two all out sets have no physiological impact? Does it make sense to fatigue yourself on lower weighted sets using 10-12 reps? Look at any large individual in a weight room and I can guarantee they use some form of ramping. You can't just do a warm up set and then throw 315 on the bar and giver.


Of course the sets prior to one or two all out sets have a physiological impact, namely prepping one for the higher intensity to follow. But I do believe you are missing my point. If ramping weight involves using a sub-maxmimal load for a given rep range and increasing that load until you reach a given rep max, then what exactly is the difference between that and ramping up to a rep max via ascending reps with a constant load? Are they not both a gradual increase of intensity?


This is what happens when people get it in their heads that bodybuilding has become rocket science, and people start using terms like "sub-maximal load" and "physiological impact" to talk about pushing or pulling a god damn weight around. Human bodies are not pieces of warehouse machinery that can be calculated like that.

Yes technically doing a warmup set of 200lbs for say 9 reps (with 1800lbs of supposed total load put on the muscle during the set) is the same load according to that highly unnecessary and completely arbitrary formula as doing 150lbs for 12 reps (1800), IF WE WERE INDUSTRIAL BULLDOZERS WHICH WE ARE NOT.

If 200lbs is your working weight, the reason you start with 100lbs and work your way up isn't because of total loads and physiological blah blah suck it blah, it's because if you go in the gym and lay down under your heaviest weight first you're going to tear your god damn shoulder tendons or something.

If your connective tissues are cold, stiff, and inflexible, then your chances of being injured are high and your strength is going to be low. By warming up, stretching our muscles, and increasing circulation and focus we are literally making ourselves stronger so that heavier loads can be handled, and we do that by starting light and working our way up until we reach a weight heavy enough to invoke a fight or flight response at some point during the set (which is also a point where the overthinking crowd fails miserably in that they find reasons to choose "flight")


There are many many ways to lift weights while not doing straight sets.

My reps always change from set to set. The only time they dont is if I fuck up and choose too light of a weight in the first set and purposely stop at 12 when I could have gotten 15 and then do 12 again for the next set.

Normally my reps go down as the weight goes up.

I dont realy understand why people take such a rigid approach. Just have some common sense and let things sort themselves out


Good post...and saved me some typing.

Bottom line, you won't be making much overall progress if all you are doing is trying to increase the number of reps in a workout but not increasing the fucking weight used...especially if you are weak enough to think 150lbs is even a warm up for a serious weightlifter.




...and you've seen common sense on this board?

Yeah, for those of us who really intend on gaining a shit load of body weight and muscle, it is common sense.

Does someone looking to avoid using heavier weight strike you as the type to be walking around 19"+ cannons for arms in a few years?


Ramping weight- To safely work your way up to heavier weights, which would inturn break muscle fibers deeper than using light weight.

Ramping reps- would probably result in simply fatiguing the muscle, increasing the chance of secondary muscles being thrown in to do more work.

I think working your reps of using the same weight is probably just a good chance to injure yourself. Who knows, i could be wrong tho.


Yeap you could be wrong, and most of the successful Bodybuilders and strength athletes too :wink:

Did you went to gym to start with, jay87 ? You would know after a while that your statement doesn't makes any sense. If you decide not to listen common sense and try your "ramping reps and not weight" keep us post on your progress. We'll see if you can work up to a 500+ Squat that way ...


Even though many experts, Waterbury comes to mind instantly, clearly state that increasing the load is only one method of progression. Increasing reps is another.


To begin with I wasn't referring to lighter warm up sets but rather ramping so called working sets. Of all the responses so far not one person has been able to explain why warming up with increasingly heavier loads is any different to warming up with a constant load and increasing the reps.

60% of ones max at 10 reps is the same intensity as 70% at 8 reps as is 80% at 5 reps. So if ones 10rm is 200lbs how is ramping up by doing 160x10, then 187x10 and finally 200x10 any different, physiologically, than 200x6, then 200x8 and finally 200x10? Both represent an increase of intensity from light to medium to hard (approximately).


Wait the difference needs to be explained???. Come on. Re-read Mr Populars post.

You should read the threads on ramping. There are more than one. I think one is in the tcell.

Waterbury? Seriously? in the bodybuilding forum?


This is a perfect example of someone who needs to stop reading articles and forum posts, and go spend more time under the bar before reading anymore.


You have some of the biggest, most experienced guys on here telling you that your idea is not a good one for building muscle and getting strong. All the sciency shit aside, is that not enough evidence?


Jesus christ.