Ramp Up Sets – Why and How?

Max the Meathead walks up to the Squat Rack and does a couple half-assed squats with just the bar, then loads it up to 135 lbs and does a couple more terrible squats. Then it’s right to the 225 lbs that he is going to do his working sets at.

Don’t be Max the Meathead.

Even though he sort of does something you might be able to consider to be ramp ups sets, they lack intent and direction.

Ramp up sets are when you progressively add more weight each set to your main strength exercise of the day in order to get your body prepared for your heavy working sets. If your program calls for 3 sets of 5 reps, your ramp up sets would occur before you start your 3 sets. You should be doing these before all of your major strength exercises of your workout. There are a few benefits to adding ramp up sets before your working sets.

?Allows for technique practice at lighter weights. Focus on making the light weights feel like your heavy ones. Practice your breathing and bracing like you would with your working sets. Focus on gripping the ground with your feet and keeping a balanced weight distribution.

?Primes the Central Nervous System. You wouldn’t jump in a brand new Lamborghini and stomp on the gas pedal immediately, right? Unless it was a rental of course. Well, your body does belong to you, so treat it right by warming it up properly and allowing it to get accustomed to the increase in weights.

?Helps you to get more overall training volume in. It’s a simple way to increase your training volume without adding extra stress or demand on your body. Again, try to imagine your light sets are heavy and focus on being explosive on your drive up.

?Helps you assess if anything needs more attention before your working sets. This is a great opportunity to check everything and make sure you’re feeling good to move onto your heavier sets. One buttcheek not feeling very strong today? Do some Single Leg Bridges before your next set. Ankles and hips feeling stiff after watching that Star Wars marathon last night? Do a bit of extra mobility between ramp up sets. Lower back feeling like its taking too much tension? Get some DeadBugs and bracing practice in. That’s why we don’t want to go through these ramp up sets half assed. Pay attention to your body, do your reps with intent and reap the rewards!

Here’s an example of what your ramp up sets could be for Squats, if your program has you doing 3 sets of 8 reps at 225 lb:

?8-10 reps at 95 lb

?6 reps at 135 lb

?4 reps at 185 lb

?Then start your 3 sets of 8 reps at 225 lb

Again, you should be doing ramp up sets before the major strength movements of each workout. Make sure you train smart and with proper intent and you’ll be much better off than Max the Meathead.

*apologies to anybody named Max who gets offended by this blog*


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