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Warming Up for Working Sets

Updated: Jul 23, 2022

Warm up sets aren’t exactly rocket science but do require a little of attention.

Warm up sets are great for feedback. Much like pilots have a checklist before taking off, we want to make sure everything feels okay lift some heavy weight. You’ll likely perform anywhere between 3-5 sets and 1-5 reps. Start with roughly 50% of your expected top set load. Be slow and meticulous. Ask yourself


- how does this movement feel? (good; a little sticky)

- any discrepancies between sides? (is more prep work needed)

- any pain? ( more warming up needed; moving to a regressed movement)

- feels awesome? (continue to pull the trigger)

The general idea is to get you as ready as possible with as little volume as necessary. Tempos should be slowed down and your attention to your body and how it feels should be present. This is a great time to address issues you've been working on/make calls on whether or not you should continue into a top set (refer to some of the bulleted questions).

Spend too much time and effort on sets and reps (especially at high loads) on warm up sets and you will take away from your top set. Leaving some strength and tissue on the table.

Everyone should be warming up on heavy compound dumbbell and barbell movements like the squat, bench, dead, OHP, and row. Especially if they're cold and just getting into their workout. You can utilize more or less sets and reps where and when it is needed.

Example Warm up protocol

Top set expectation : 100lbs x 8 reps

  • Warm up set 1: Bar x 5-10 reps

  • Warm up set 2: 75lbs x 5 reps

  • Warm up set 3: 85lbs x 3 reps

  • Warm up set 4: 95lbs x 2 reps

  • Warm up set 5 100lbs x 1 rep

  • Top set 1: 100 x 8

  • Top set 2: 80 x 15

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