T Nation

Ramping Set/Rep Parameter Help


Hey Guys,
Throughout my lifting 'career' I've done mostly straight sets with the occasional makeshift ramping sets.
This morning I decided to read about ramping and to implement it. I found a couple examples but I could not find any plan for putting it all together. This is what I did for chest this today, I appreciate any feedback you guys can give.

Incline BB Press
135 x 12
185 x 10
195 x 8
205 x 6

Flat DB Press
50 x 12
60 x 10
70 x 8
80 x 6
90 x 3 paused 30 sec and got one more rep

Machine Flyes
3 x 8
1 x 15 followed by extreme stretching from the DC article this morning.

I'm 6'1" 220 lbs 15%BF


bumpin it


I think you missed the point of ramping. For instance. THe incline BB press. It would ideally go like:

Bar or 95x12
205xamap (in your case, 6)

Then maybe a few backoff sets if you feel so inclined. Personally, I like to do two top sets instead of one. Still don't think I'm advanced enough and might be shortchanging myself.


Come on now, pX, me, Sento and others have discussed this quite a lot on here in many threads...

For standard BB ramping, you get 2 versions:

a) oldschool way... keeping reps roughly the same on all "warm-up "sets:
(generally using an open rep range like 2-10 or 4-12, depending on exercise and muscle-group/injury potential) and going up in large weight increments whenever you can do enough reps on your work-set

(those were all your "get ready" sets)
405*as many as possible, 2-10 or whatever.
(work set)

b) modern way... going down in reps on "warm-ups" to save energy for work set...
(generally using a narrower rep-range)
Adding weight onto work set in smaller increments, but more often (to stay within rep range)

(maybe do 355*1-2 here if you want)
(all get-ready sets)
405*as many as possible (6-10 or 8-15 or whatever)
(=work set)

Subsequent lifts for the same muscle-group may not need as many warm-ups... Also, how strong you are kind of dictates how many total sets (due to warm-ups) you do, but also depends on how easy it is to get injured on the exercise etc.

Note: This needs common sense to figure out by yourself.

In the case that common sense is not a strong-point of yours, stick to 5x5 and such periodized programs until you know your body better and manage to put up some decent numbers!


Hi Ceph, just to hijack on a related topic. I already understand the above as you said.. its been in a lot of threads. I have begun doing it but am curious how many excercises per body part for standard ramp split. just getting my bearings and trying to determine how much is too much, or more importantly... to little.


I do 3-4 exercises on just about all muscle groups and have since day one.


Would it be wise for me to stick to 5x5 on chest day and not ramp until I have a higher max? I'm at ~275lbs max now.


Uhm, most big guys have been ramping up in weight since they could only press the bar. The ONLY reason so many of you seem clueless to this is because you get all of your info from the internet instead of actually SPEAKING TO REALLY BIG MUTHERFUCKERS.

These authors NEED guys like you so they can fill bank accounts.


Thanks Prof.


It would be wise to either
a) stick to madcow 5x5 or bill starr's 5x5 routines for another two years or so


b) do a complete modern bb split based on what you've (hopefully) learned from the pX thread or the ramping thread.

Don't just mix this stuff at random.

Again, be honest with yourself... Do you understand this game well enough to use an open/ramping approach? Do you know how to do the exercises, do you have some bodybuilders in your area who you could ask?
Have you ever even seen one of Ronnie's DVD's or McGrath's ?

If the answer is no, then stick to 5x5... It requires a lot less instinct/common sense. (I'm not saying that to insult you)

Some people understand the game instinctively to some degree, others don't... If all your info came from articles on T-Nation etc thus far, then without sort of a mentor to get you through this stuff, you'll likely just mess up on an actual bb routine.



Mostly 2-3 main exercises (ramped, progression-oriented) per muscle-group on a 4-6 way split... + maybe 1 pump exercise (light, just for the pump, never mind progression here).

So you get around 3-4 exercises total, but you wouldn't do a pump exercise on a 3-way or so, for example...

Haven't you read pX's thread yet?

Biceps wouldn't get 4 main exercises, more likely 2 (or 3, depends on you... Don't just do more for the sake of doing more though, strength gain for reps is what we're after, not just doing a lot of random shit) +1 pump exercise maybe (or an extreme stretch if you prefer that).

Chest also doesn't need 3 big pressing exercises (hell, you want to keep your shoulder joints ok, right?), so 2 big presses (low-incline + flat or decline) and maybe a pump exercise should do the job.

Now, shoulders may get more total exercises due to rear delts (and traps)...
Seriously, this should all be easy to figure out by yourself and from watching bodybuilders train!

Just look at a few ramping routines to get a feel for that stuff and then test it out yourself!
If, after 4 months on a split you notice that doing 3 main movements for biceps seems to just slow down your progression, then do 2! Simple as that.


I have a method which is different from most, which I think has advantages.

First it needs to be stressed, what is the purpose?

These leading-in-to-the-work-set sets can have intended purpose of:

A) Having training effect in their own right plus ensuring being able to work well with the work weight.

The cost to this is doing this consumes, so to speak, some of the training volume that is possible for you to use that day. It's not unusual for a lot of the volume that a given lifter might do to get taken up this way.

This can be fine, as the training benefit may exceed what would be the case if the volume had been employed another way, but it should be recognized that seeking training effect in these working-up sets does have a cost as well.


B) Having little to no training effect of their own right, but existing solely to perform best and safely in the real work set or sets.

Where my goal is the second of those, my method is:

1) Extremely light warmup with for example about 15% 1RM. This might be 30 reps, or 3 sets of 10, or 3 sets of 5, or whatever seems best to me. This is to get blood flowing and some basic warming with no real drain on the system.

2) A method I took from Doug Hepburn's methods: a set of 5 at 50% 1RM, then a single at 60%, 70%, and etc if need be, until the weight is within one increment of the work weight. E.g. if the work set will be 85% 1RM, I would do the singles up to 80%.

I expect there is very little to no training effect from this method. But it also very little reduces the total volume of real work that one can do in the workout.

Sometimes it is simplified from this. For example for EZ--bar curls I will do three very fast sets of 10 using the lightest bar with only 15 seconds rest between them, and then use a Hepburn-like approach with singles but at 10 lb intervals.

It doesn't have to be exact.


Thanks for all the info. I have read X's thread and I got a real good grasp on the idea of ramping and why. I have been doing that but the feeling of fatigue is obviously very different then my old way of pyramiding up with much harder warmups. So I just wanted to check in and see what is what and if i was doing too much or too little. Looks like i need to add a bit here and subtract a bit there. It all seems so simple once you "got it". I feel that way with the ramping aspect. I have been feeling a little more uncertainty lately regarding how much total work i should be doing. Sometimes thinking i am doing too much and sometimes too little. I got a little bit of that mental gymnastics going on. That is basically why i wanted to check myself with you guys.

Working out at home, i don't have a big bodybuilder to ask. That is what you guys are for. :wink:


DJS, it doesn't really matter how much total work you do... Progress matters, that's all.
And if you notice that, after putting 100 lbs on your 8RM or whatever on the low-incline press, that your chest still isn't really growing as it should, well, then you might want to make adjustments (technique, volume, whatever).

But on this sort of training it's better not to constantly think about whether you do too much or too little or whatever. It should really fall into place by itself...

If you feel like you're not doing enough, try being more intense!


ok. Makes sense. Thanks again.


When you're ramping, you're using your first exercises to WARM UP and start getting the blood into the muscles, not to start fatiguing your muscles and suck energy of your main working sets.

I see most guys here think that ramping is just making a set of 12, a set of 10, and 8, or just decreasing reps and adding weight while going to failure in every set as you advance. That doesn't make sense, your preparing to give it all you got on 1-2 working sets.


Sets, you mean :wink:


yeah bro, sorry.


Right, assuming that you are gaining scale weight (and haven't drastically changed your ROM/form), you must have put on muscle somewhere to gain that type of strength on the movement. So in that case maybe your triceps and/or shoulders have gained significant size (I remember Stu saying he had this issue).

You must then try to figure out a way to make your chest work harder in the exercise, or take your triceps/shoulders out of the exercise more. You could try things like pre-exhaust, switching from BB to DB's, adjusting your form, focusing on a specific ROM, etc...

But you'll still have gained significant muscle/size and strength by that point and will know your body better for doing it. Realize that you're going to make some mistakes/need to make adjustments along your journey; no one gets everything absolutely perfect right from the get go. The important thing is to learn from those mistakes and make adjustments accordingly. That's the ONLY way you'll ever really figure this BB'ing thing out; experience.


As mentioned in my post above, I think this is an oversimplification. It's very possible for these sets to also have actual training effect.

Or if you think in your case they don't, then why burn any more energy than needed in them?