Learning how to warm up before your working set can make all the difference. The reps may differ, but this is a common way we will conduct our repeating movements:
RDL or Back Squat (or any large compound movement) you may want to do the optional sets
*For a less demanding movement, you can probably do just 1-2 warm-up sets then get into work sets.
Optional 30-50% of working weight x 10-15 Reps
50% of working weight x 8-12 Reps
75% of working weight x 4-6 Reps
Optional 85-90% of working weight x 1-2 Reps
It’s important to understand that the “warm-up” sets are low-fatiguing. The earlier sets of higher reps are meant to be a super easy effort in which you are just beginning to prepare the muscles for the work ahead (less than 50% of the weight you’ll use for your first working set).
As the weight increases, we continue to prepare (but not fatigue) by lowering the reps. Even the final warm-up sets are for lower reps than the work sets (and with less weight). This will allow the body to feel the heavier load, such that there is a psychological and physiological adaptation that occurs, ensuring that the “work sets” don’t feel overwhelmingly heavy.
Choosing The Right Warm-Up Sets For You
If you are stronger, you may need 1-2 additional preparatory sets than what is prescribed.
If you are not as strong, you may need fewer prep sets; but the principles all still apply!
You also will not need nearly as many warm-up sets for smaller muscle groups. For curls, shoulders, triceps, and the like, you can usually just implement one “feel it out” set, then jump into work sets.
For example, you might use 25-30# DBs for 6-8 reps before the work set with 40# DBs for 10-12 Reps.