Effective Warmups and Poundage Progression from Set to Set

Hail to the Dinosaurs!

Here's a very common training question that was
waiting in the in box this morning. I get this one
all the time, so I thought it would be a good idea
to cover it in an email to the Dinos.

"Hi Brooks,

You often recommend 5 progressively heavier sets.

How big should the jumps be?

Start with 60% of top weight and add 10% with each
set or should the jumps be bigger on the first few sets
and smaller on the last few?

Robin D."

Thanks for your question, Robin.

The answer depends in part on the exercise, how heavy
your top set is, and how much warming up you need
before your top set.

For example, if you are doing curls and your top set for
the day is 120 pounds, then you might do:

80 x 5

90 x 5

100 x 5

110 x 5

120 x 5

Compare that to a set of squats or deadlifts if your top
set for the day is 400 pounds. If you started at 240 pounds
(which would be 60% of 400 pounds), you'd be starting
way too heavy.

I'd get to 400 pounds like this:

135 x 5

225 x 5

275 x 5

315 x 5

365 x 5

380 x 5

400 x 5

And yes, I know that's seven sets -- but it's important
to start light and work up gradually, and it takes time to
work up to 400 pounds in a workout. So don't worry if
you find yourself doing more than five sets.

Some related points.

1. Dangerous?

Bunny types say that heavy weights are dangerous.

That's true -- IF you don't do your warmup sets.

Which means that if you train seriously, you WILL
be serious about your warmup sets.

2. Abbreviated?

Abbreviated training refers to the number of exercises
in a given workout, and the number of workouts
per week. Don't think you have to do one or two sets
per exercise to train in an abbreviated fashion.

3. High Volume?

I don't consider the foregoing examples to be examples
of high volume training. When you calculate training
volume, you really focus on weights over 70% or 80%
of your top weight for the day. The lighter sets are vitally
necessary as part of your warmup process, but they do
not cut into your recovery very much.

4. Limit the Exercises!

You can't train this way on a laerge number of exercises.
It takes too long. So you HAVE to limit the number of
different exercises in each workout. In most cases, you
should do two or three primary exercises, followed by
gut, grip and neck work. In some cases, ONE primary
exercise is enough.

5. Repping Out Won't Work.

Finally, some trainees try to do one warmup set where they
rep out on the warmup set. This is not a good idea! Repping
out with a light weight will tire you out and make it harder
to lift heavy -- and it will NOT prepare you for the heavy

Working up to a heavy top set is a slow, deliberate process.
You can't rush it.

As always, thanks for reading and have a great day. If
you train today, make it a good one.

Yours in strength,

Brooks Kubik

P.S. Go here to reserve your copy of my new book on
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P.S. 4. Thought for the Day: "Anything worth doing is
worth doing right." -- Brooks Kubik