T Nation

What is the Origin of the Term "Ramp" in the Context of Sets and Reps?


C.T., I’ve seen the term “ramp” used for periods of increased volume in an accumulation block of training, but you were the first person who’s work I read that used the term ramp in terms of an method of increasing reps and activation in a series of sets and reps (as opposed to a pyramid approach for example).

Westside of course using something like a ramp on their ME day, and obviously Olympic lifters ramp rather than pyramid, or at least approximately ramp to their work sets, but is that a standard term used in weightlifting. I’ve also seen some HIT programs that recommended doing 1-3 rep sets up to work weight (or even to 5-10% above work weight) to prepare for STF.

Did you first start using the term “ramp” or does it come from weightlifting in some eastern block country, or is it common weightlifting lingo? I almost think you could write a book about ramp methodology. Thanks


Pre-emptive Guess Answer.

Unimaginative “5 x 5” enthusiast started using the term “sets across,” so regular guys had to call regular lifting “ramping” to differentiate.


Actually that’s pretty much my reasoning and why I started to use the term “ramping”.

Here’s something from an interview I did in 2010 or 2011 which explains why I started to use that word:

"Well, for example all my training life I ramped up the weights gradually until I reached the maximum weight I could use in good form for the prescribed number of reps. As an Olympic lifter that’s always how we trained; just look at videos of the training of elite Olympic lifters and you’ll see that they might do something like 50kg for a few sets of 3, 70kg for a few sets of 3, 90kg for a few sets of 2, 110kg x 2, 120kg x 1, 130kg x 1, 140kg x 1 and 150kg x 1. Some called it “warming-up” be we used the term “practice sets”.

Even when I was a football player that’s how I trained. Our high school football coach was a former Olympic lifter so even when I started out structured lifting at 14 years old I learned to ramp up the weight gradually.

Since I always did this, even when I switched more to a bodybuilding approach that’s how I did things. So when I wrote programs for the internet a lot of people screwed up because I never bothered to tell them that 5 x 5 meant doing 5 sets of 5 reps with gradually heavier weights, the last set being the heaviest one. People who read the program did 5 all out sets while in my mind it meant one all out set and 4 progressively heavier sets."

That’s why when I write programs now (especially with clients) I mention either to ramp to a maximum for the prescribed number of reps OR do a certain number of work sets (which would be sets across or using small weight changes).


Haha. Seeing that again, I’ve definetly read that before…