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Old 01-11-2011, 11:34 PM   #1
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Default Question on Warmup Sets

I've only recently started using one warmup set prior to my first bench press, as a friend who's been lifting for some years (and is a seriously smart guy generally speaking) advised that I start doing this if I was going to be lifting heavy weight on a regular basis.

I probably don't get the science behind it, and so would like some elaboration. But I've always viewed warmup sets as akin to a general 'warmup' ; stretching with a little cardio. You either do one or the other.

Plus my attitude has been; if effort is used to move the weight, you're wasting your strength. Full potential should be kept for the proper sets.

On the other hand, if the weight being moved is not heavy enough to really affect your full potential - what's it's use, if a warmup (some cardio and stretching) has been performed?

So my questions are:
Who does warmup sets?
What is their main purpose?
How many sets/reps and how much time should be spent on them?
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:52 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abaddon View Post

So my questions are:
Who does warmup sets?
What is their main purpose?
How many sets/reps and how much time should be spent on them?
I do warmup sets with everything, hell Ill do full isolation workouts before going hard on a compound lift.

Main purpose is this, it "awakens" the muscle group so-to-say, get the blood pumping and sort of "preps" it. Let's use an analogy, its 10 degrees F outside in the morning and you hop in your car to go to work, start it up, pull out of the drive way and stomp on the gas, your car pukes on itself and takes what seems like days to get up to the speed you are wishing to go. This would be like laying down on the bench press throwing 80% of your 1rm on there and expecting to rep it out 8 times cold, probably not going to happen, and if it does its going to wear you out, i promise. However if you would have went outside earlier and warmed your car up for a little while I wouldve performed the way you wanted it to, because the gas was flowing, pistons warmed up and firing, etc. Same with lifting, warm up your muscle groups, let them know the big weight is coming.

There's a very good pyramid system that someone came up with I remember that is often used to reach the weight you want to achieve while working rep ranges and max lift attempts, seen it awhile back, cant find it now, maybe someone will come up with it for me.

But personally, I will warmup as i feel needed, my max bench press is 360lbs, if Im working up to that my rep range will never exceed 8reps and I will slowly (10-15lbs) increase weight from somewhere around 225-250ish to reach my max effort attempt, as weight goes up, reps go down.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abaddon View Post
I've only recently started using one warmup set prior to my first bench press, as a friend who's been lifting for some years (and is a seriously smart guy generally speaking) advised that I start doing this if I was going to be lifting heavy weight on a regular basis.

I probably don't get the science behind it, and so would like some elaboration. But I've always viewed warmup sets as akin to a general 'warmup' ; stretching with a little cardio. You either do one or the other.

Plus my attitude has been; if effort is used to move the weight, you're wasting your strength. Full potential should be kept for the proper sets.

On the other hand, if the weight being moved is not heavy enough to really affect your full potential - what's it's use, if a warmup (some cardio and stretching) has been performed?

So my questions are:
Who does warmup sets?
What is their main purpose?
How many sets/reps and how much time should be spent on them?


Abbadon, personally, it takes me many warm up sets and even a couple at very heavy weight inorder for my cns to be ready for max or near max effort with even heavier weights. In other words, if i didnt warm up thoughly, my working sets would suffer. I wouldnt be able to lift as much.

Wendler suggests 3-4set. Louie simmons believes in even more. I would much rather error on more than less warm up.

Forgive me if i have misinterpreted your post. Time for bed. Eyes lids are falling.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:24 AM   #4
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I use warmups sets. If you really want to see how important warmups are try this:

One week when you're benching throw a weight on the bar that you think you can do sets of 8 with (or whatever weight you would usually use). do your workout with that weight. then next week when you bench again use the same weight but this time do a few warmup sets beforehand. see how your performance compares and how you feel during/after the set.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigFiveFive View Post
I do warmup sets with everything, hell Ill do full isolation workouts before going hard on a compound lift.

Main purpose is this, it "awakens" the muscle group so-to-say, get the blood pumping and sort of "preps" it. Let's use an analogy, its 10 degrees F outside in the morning and you hop in your car to go to work, start it up, pull out of the drive way and stomp on the gas, your car pukes on itself and takes what seems like days to get up to the speed you are wishing to go. This would be like laying down on the bench press throwing 80% of your 1rm on there and expecting to rep it out 8 times cold, probably not going to happen, and if it does its going to wear you out, i promise. However if you would have went outside earlier and warmed your car up for a little while I wouldve performed the way you wanted it to, because the gas was flowing, pistons warmed up and firing, etc. Same with lifting, warm up your muscle groups, let them know the big weight is coming.

There's a very good pyramid system that someone came up with I remember that is often used to reach the weight you want to achieve while working rep ranges and max lift attempts, seen it awhile back, cant find it now, maybe someone will come up with it for me.

But personally, I will warmup as i feel needed, my max bench press is 360lbs, if Im working up to that my rep range will never exceed 8reps and I will slowly (10-15lbs) increase weight from somewhere around 225-250ish to reach my max effort attempt, as weight goes up, reps go down.
Useful analogy - I get the point.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILoveLifting View Post
Abbadon, personally, it takes me many warm up sets and even a couple at very heavy weight inorder for my cns to be ready for max or near max effort with even heavier weights. In other words, if i didnt warm up thoughly, my working sets would suffer. I wouldnt be able to lift as much.

Wendler suggests 3-4set. Louie simmons believes in even more. I would much rather error on more than less warm up.

Forgive me if i have misinterpreted your post. Time for bed. Eyes lids are falling.
Nope, you got it mate. I haven't read any of these well-known books on training, so I didn't realise warmup sets were so commonly used and important. I've never used them myself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by strkout35 View Post
I use warmups sets. If you really want to see how important warmups are try this:

One week when you're benching throw a weight on the bar that you think you can do sets of 8 with (or whatever weight you would usually use). do your workout with that weight. then next week when you bench again use the same weight but this time do a few warmup sets beforehand. see how your performance compares and how you feel during/after the set.
Thanks - this is the only way to really know, I guess. I will do this.
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Axle clean-press: 100 kgs (220 lbs)
Bench press: 135 kgs (298 lbs) - 1st PL meet 16th October 2011
Deadlift w/Barbell: 180 kgs (397 lbs)
Deadlift w/Hexbar: 225 kgs (496 lbs)
Farmers walk: 240 kgs (530 lbs), 50 feet
Front squat: 100 kgs (220 lbs)
Log clean-press: 100 kgs (220 lbs)
Strict OHP: 85 kgs (187 lbs) 3 reps
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Old 01-12-2011, 02:30 AM   #6
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I do warmup sets to activate the CNS and to stretch out thouroughly to prevent injury, hell when im squatting deep it usually takes me 20-30 reps (in sets of 4-8, an stretching in between sets) with a light weight just to be able to go deep enough.

Time spent varies, for squatting - 5-10 minutes, on bench and deadlift i use to pyramid up to my working weight, starting with 40% or so and get proper form in with this light weight. Ive noted that if form is perfect with 225 on the deadlift, its also perfect with 450 if that is workset weight.
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:11 AM   #7
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I do warm up sets before the main sets (I also do a full shoulder routine before every day that uses shoulders - so chest and shoulders day for me, but I would include it on most days for you as how you have the routine structured). This is it here, before I did it I would get aching shoulder a lot from a previous RC injury, but since I get hardly anything


Just before i go on about the warm ups, you mentioned stretching. IMO you shouldnt stretch before working out as stretching a cold muscle can increase the likely hood of a pull or a tear. Stretch afterwards when there is warm blood flowing through the muscles.

Warm ups can be light aerobics to get the flood flowing and the warm the blood up (personally i dont do this very often, even though i know i should), or specific sets for theat muscle group. I do warm up sets for the firts exercise for any muscle group. For instance if i was doing chest and shoulder I would do a warm up set before the first chest exercise, then the remainder of sets without warm up sets (as the muscle will be plenty warm). If my next exercise was shoulder press then i wouldnt warm up as the anterior delts would be warm from the chest pressing. i may however do a specific warm up set for the lateral delts and/or rear delts if i was also working them as they wouldnt have been worked as directly.

To know how much weight to lift on a warm up set (again I'll use bench as an example) for sets of 10 @ 100kg, I would do 10-15 with just the bar, then about 5 or 6 at 40kg, 4 or 5 at 50-60kg then 2-3 at say 60-75kg. The idea is you want to get the CNS ready and the muscles warm with fatiging them altogether.

There are loads of benefits to warming up mate, including

(taken from The Warm Up - How To Warm Up Before Exercise)
•Increased Muscle Temperature - The temperature increases within muscles that are used during a warm-up routine. A warmed muscle both contracts more forcefully and relaxes more quickly. In this way both speed and strength can be enhanced. Also, the probability of overstretching a muscle and causing injury is far less.

•Increased Body Temperature - This improves muscle elasticity, also reducing the risk of strains and pulls.

•Blood Vessels Dilate - This reduces the resistance to blood flow and lower stress on the heart.
•Improve Efficient Cooling - By activating the heat-dissipation mechanisms in the body (efficient sweating) an athlete can cool efficiently and help prevent overheating early in the event or race.

•Increased Blood Temperature - The temperature of blood increases as it travels through the muscles. As blood temperature rises, the binding of oxygen to hemoglobin weakens so oxygen is more readily available to working muscles, which may improve endurance.

•Improved Range of Motion - The range of motion around a joint is increased.

•Hormonal Changes - Your body increases its production of various hormones responsible for regulating energy production. During warm-up this balance of hormones makes more carbohydrates and fatty acids available for energy production.

•Mental Preparation - The warm-up is also a good time to mentally prepare for an event by clearing the mind, increasing focus, reviewing skills and strategy. Positive imagery can also relax the athlete and build concentration

hope this helps

Carl.

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Old 01-12-2011, 04:46 AM   #8
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Thanks Mr Swede and Carl! Good info!
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:43 AM   #9
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Here is my warmup for my 5 rep sets.
2x5 Just bar
1x5 around 40%Working Weight
1x3 around 60%Working Weight
1x2 around 80%Working Weight

I also find, as many people said, it gets the muscles ready for the exercise, but there is also another reason. We all know how important form is, well the body learns form through repetition, specifically in the sub 80%working weight area (according to mark rippetoe).

So the purpose of warmup sets like this is to also hammer the form into you, that way when your doing the heavy sets, your not thinking "ok, make sure im rotating elbows enough, make sure my feet are pushing the right way, ok checked back is arched" while trying to handle hundreds of pounds. Doing enough repetitions, your body learns it, so when you are under the bar going for a personal record, all you have to think is "UUUPPPPPPPPP", and your muscle memory takes care of the rest.
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Old 01-12-2011, 08:42 AM   #10
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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 315....to 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.
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