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Old 01-12-2011, 08:42 AM   #10
Bearded Beast of Duloc
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Louisiana
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One major reason to do warmup sets when using heavy weight (relative, of course) is to prep your CNS (Central Nervous System). Without proper warmups it's simply not prepared to handle the heaviest weight out of the gate, and that can cost you strength and encourage injury.

You may think and feel like it's ready, but you are missing the boat.

Do an experiment. Before your next heavy set of squats or benches (after whatever warmup you are currently doing), load up 40-50 pounds more and just walk it out, and hold it for 10-15 seconds. Repeat this 3-5 times, before moving on to your first working set.

The weight feels lighter.

Why? Your central nervous system has been properly stimulated to handle the loads you are lifting with. The weight feeling lighter isn't a gimmick. It feels lighter because your CNS is allowing you to recruit more resources (muscle fiber recruitment) to handle it.

More resources equals a safer and more effective lift.

Warmups also allow you to practice form, while getting the feel for a lift, which is needed with heavy weight. Bad form equals a disaster, and while I know many lifters think they have mastered form, this is not the case. You never master form. Heavy weight is your master, and the heavier it gets, the more you need to focus on form - especially the "minor" aspects.

If I do not constantly write down form notes, I will start to forget something. I need to pull out my notebook and do a few warmups to practice my form, under a progressively heavier weight. Not doing so is an invitation to strains and injury.

My warmups sets are not taxing. I warmup to get the feel of the lift, to set my form with progressively heavier weight, and to prime my CNS.

When I bench with 315x5, my warmups looked like this early last year:

Bar x 15
135 x 5
225 x 5
275 x 1
315 x 1

Over time I found a more effective way for me to prime my CNS was to work in slower weight intervals, and something like this worked better for me:

Bar x 15
135 x 5
225 x 5
255 x 1
275 x 1
295 x 1
315 x 1

The last single was to get the feel of prime my CNS and form with it.

For squats, when I work above 400 which I did most of the year last year, my warmups were something like:

Buffalo Bar (55lbs) x 5
135 x 5
135 x 5
225 x 3
315 x 1
365 x 1
405 x 1
405 x working sets.

When working heavy I would never waver from this structure. My warmups on squats alone take nearly 30 minutes.

I did not need as many warmup sets when my bench max was 275, and my squat max was 400. The point being...the heavier the weight, the more I needed to prime CNS and prep my form.

Heavy weight forces you to practice your form non-stop, and it only gets more difficult - not easier. It's like driving a NASCAR stock car...sure you know how to drive, but can you drive at 230 MPH?

Note: I also advocate biggest lifts first, because of the warmup time involved. For smaller lifts using the same muscle group after this lift, I perform very few warmup sets, unless the exercise is a beefy lift like deadlifts, good mornings, etc.

Destroy That Which Destroys You

"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."

Last edited by BendtheBar; 01-12-2011 at 08:50 AM.
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