T Nation

Warming Up Wrong


I used to previously do straight sets. I now ramp all my sets and my strength is improving but im wondering whether im ramping wrong so that when i get to my 'work set' im doing less than i possibly could.

For example:

For Flat DB Press [currently] [reps x lbs]:

Warm up joints - 15x65
Ramping - 8x120, 8x130, 8x130
Working set - 8x155

Could anyone give me an example of ramping theyve done, or percentages [for a guideline] as to the increments of how i should ramp my weights so i dont fatigue.



I think one of the things to do is get your mind-set right about what ramping sets are. I think others here have also expressed it this way, but don't consider any sets on the "up" ramp to not be working sets.

All of your sets should be worthwhile and providing a benefit.

Personally, I wouldn't do 3 sets so close together on the "ramp". Why not do 10 x 120 or 130, 8 x 155 then go up to 4 x 170 for 2 sets. Push your "ramp" so you do more reps at the high loading end and don't stagnate in the middle ground so much. This will help push your strength levels along.

If you want more volume, do a final set with the 155's rep it out for as many as you can do.


I make it easy with all the heavier barbell movements because I don't normally use anything besides plates and quarters.


275lbs > to failure (6-10)

The smaller stuff for arms and shoulders is the same way except with quarters and dimes.

But as far as using cable stacks and dumbbells, my first set is always about half of what I want to use for working weight (for 10-20 warmup reps), and then I just take even jumps up till I get there.

There is no rule set in stone as to what is the "correct" number of sets to do for every exercise all the time. You base this on what is actually giving you results.

Personally I don't see why you would want to do two warmup sets with the same weight, that just seems like un-needed fatigue to me.


This topic sounds so familiar.

(you won't need as many warm-ups when it's your second or third exercise for the same muscle-group and same movement pattern, and you won't need as many if you're very weak still)

Less volume (more focus on top set)
-405*12 <- work set.

DB: (just examples, you could do it differently)

More volume:
-405*10 <- work set.

DB (sets closer together so you won't have to use as much weight -> avoid issue of being unable to handle heaviest 'bells)
-65*12 (warm-up)
-120*12 <-
-140*12 <- All work sets, sort of.
-160*12 <- Top set

(could also do 8 reps on all but the last set or whatever you feel like... The above DB example is pretty much what Ronnie used to do for seated DB presses in his 2003 vid, if I remember right)


You can rep the 155s on DB press but dont get this yet?


yeh Im a bit confused as well man, thats 70kg DB's you using dude, you should be tellin us(or at least me) how its done.


The increments I do depends on what weights are available and how strong I am on the movement.

For example, on heavy movements such as Squat/Deadlift I like to go up in 20-30lb increments, for overhead pressing and bench pressing, it'd be more like 10-20lbs.

For small movements like lateral raises or preacher curls, the adjustments would be like 5-10lbs, sometimes I just do straight sets with something like laterals for a pump more than anything.

This isn't set in stone though, sometimes I might do bigger jumps or smaller jumps depending on how I feel (bigger jumps if I am feeling particularly strong and confident, smaller jumps if I need more volume and more of a warm up)



Sorry guys the weights was total weight not each DB, i use the 35kg DB's for my last set, hopefully 37.5kgs 2moro :slight_smile:

But yeah so i think ive been ramping my sets with weights that are too high at the end. So maybe ill try:

Elliptical for 5 mins
Warmup joints - 15x60
Ramp - 8x100, 8x120, 8x140
Final work set - 8x160

So basically from what everyone has said, just space them more so i dont fatigue i guess.

And C_C, i know ramping has been done a lot recently, but guess was still ramping with final weights to high. So you usually drop the reps until the final set when u up the reps. ie. 8x100, 5x140, 3x180, 6x220?


Thanks man, easier to understand. Those are big jumps but i suppose the more weight u push the bigger gap the intervals are. Cheers


Don't get caught up with set percentages and set reps for warmups. It's all by how you feel.


Yeah, I used to do go down in reps as I advanced in warm-up sets and then just do my work-set in the target rep-range.

pX kept his reps roughly the same on all warm-ups/pre-top-set-sets if I remember right.

Try both, do what works best for you.

If you're uncomfortable with the big weight-jumps from set to set, then just throw in another single or so, like...
355x1 <-
405x6-12 or whatever




Just for additional numbers to look at here was my first exercise from my most recent chest day

Incline DB (weight is each DB)
30lb - 5
40lb - 5
50lb - 5 with no rest in between or actually just as long as it took to rack and remove the weights

70lb - 12
85lb - 11
100lb - 9
105lb - 8 2 minutes rest


Just out of curiosity, why so many warm-ups?

My first exercise goes like this, (Incline Smith)

85 x 8-10
115 x 4-5
165 x 2-3
235 x AMAP

Then I'll do dumbbell flat presses,

65 x 4
95 x AMAP

You get more sets in on one exercise than I do for two.






Yeah i like the feeling of doing the same reps. Cheers for the advice. Going to go try chest/tris now and ill let ya know how i go. Bodybuilding is trial and error. (hopefully not to many errors)

Thanks everyone for the add. info. - Rob


I suscribe to SSC's approach as well.


Well I'm only doing 15 reps for my warm up. There's nothing unreasonable about that. I just like increasing the weight because it feels like a more natural way to move on to the heavier sets. I never feel any fatigue after my 'warmup'. Another reason I need to do a lot before my heavier sets is because I've hurt my right shoulder twice (4 months apart) doing incline BB press. I can't take the risk of jumping into heavier sets until I know my joints are fully prepared.

After my incline pressing I'll do 3 sets of Flat HS press starting at 70lbs per side working up to ~120bs per in recent weeks. Then I'll do 3 sets of incline flyes and finish with 7 sets of pec deck. As you can see I prefer high volume and actually do more volume at certain times of the year. I enjoy high volume but I also do cut the volume in half almost for a few months out of the year when I work in the 4-6 rep range for most lifts.