ACCLIMATION WARM-UP SETS
The whole purpose of a warm-up set it to prepare the muscles, the nervous system and our minds for the working set. Too many warm-ups sets un-necessarily fatigue the muscles before we actually get to our working sets.
Below is how to structure the warm-up sets for my first exercise of each major body part. For the second exercise you should be already warmed up so a “feeler set” where you perform 1 set of 3-4 reps with about 80 % of the target working eight will be enough. This “feeler” set just gives you a sense of how strong you are for that exercise on that day and 3-4 reps doesn’t sap your energy for the real working sets ahead.
40% x 12 reps (warm-up)
Here you are using roughly 40% of your target work set weight. These should be good smooth reps. Not too slow and not too fast. Your main goal is to increase blood flow and get the feel of the movement and the weight. After this first set you should rest about 1 minute. Paul Cribbs recommends you start with 50% of your goal weight and do 2 50% sets, try both Paul’s method and the one I’ve listed here and see what is best for you.
60% x 6 reps (warm-up)
Here we bump the weight to roughly around 60% of the target workset weight. This should be a deliberate set done at a moderate pace. This is the next step in weight acclimation. It should feel light and the first 4 reps should be very easy. Rest about 1 to 2 minutes before the next set.
80% x 3 reps (weight acclimation)
Again we bump the weight up. Roughly to about 80% of the workset weight. You should follow the same rhythm as in the last set. 3 strong reps. Rest 1 minute before next set.
90% x 1 rep (weight acclimation)
That's right, just 1 rep. Roughly with 90-95% of your work set weight. The purpose here is weight acclimation. This should be a strong, powerful and deliberate rep.
Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Sets:
100% x 6 to 8 reps (muscle-building)
These are the muscle building sets. Very important; these are the only sets that produce muscle growth. All the sets leading up to these heavy sets are merely warm-up sets and are treated as just that and nothing more. Generally I will perform 3 working sets per exercise but it is best not to hold anything back, if you can smash that body part in 2 intense sets then don’t bother with the third set. Intensity is the key.
Next step is the feeler set for the second exercise followed by 2 to 3 good working sets. I use a 3rd and forth exercise for large body parts but generally limit calves, biceps, triceps, abs (just kidding, I do abs once every 6 months) to only 2 or three exercises. There you have it, warm up just enough, then get stuck in to it. Don’t waste time and energy on endless warm-up sets.