When you're lifting weights, warming up can be a guessing game. Do too little and you won't be ready for your real sets. Do too much, and your real sets' performance suffers. By "ramping up" instead, you can take away the guesswork.
Image by Jeremy Fulton
Generally, strength workouts can be broken up into two types of sets (a group of repetitions or "reps"):
- Working sets: These are the sets that you aim to improve over time, because they drive increases in strength and/or muscle.
- Warm-up sets: The purpose of these sets is to prepare for the working sets. As such, these are usually not performed with high intensity.
Because warm-up sets often don't have prescribed weights or reps, it's easy to warm up too little or too much. Luckily, strength and conditioning coach Dr John Rusin developed a method called "ramping up" which includes a set of rules that take away the guesswork. He explains ramping up:
Ramping up involves doing a specific number of sets of an exercise, each set decreasing in reps but increasing in load, before hitting your work sets. The way you choose to ramp-up an exercise can be the difference between packing on muscle or fizzling out.
Ramp-up sets aren't programmed solely for performance purposes either. When done correctly, ramp-ups will keep your body healthy, enhance your neural output, and allow you to reach levels of muscularity and strength you never thought possible.
For a full guide to ramping up, including a nifty chart showing exactly what weight, tempo, and reps to use, see the link below.
The Most Intelligent Way to Warm Up [T-Nation]