View Full Version : Working up to a double, triple, x4, x5 etc.

04-23-2013, 11:42 PM

I'm pondering the best strategy when working up to an initial set (you have a good idea of the weight to use). Let's say you work up to a triple at 9 with a 5% load drop after. Will you :

Do triples until you reach RPE 9 ?
Once you feel reasonably warmed up (meaning you are warmed up but didn't reach a "heavy" weight yet ~ under 75%), do singles until what you think would be your initial.

This particular revelent for me when I do deadlift, I feel my last warm up set is "eating" me a half RPE if I do triple, x4 or x5.

I believe both are valid :

Case 1. : Basically more volume in a non fatigued state, but the initial might be a bit harder.
Case 2. : We're completely fresh for the initial, but less volume before, although that volume will be done after.

What are your thoughts, experience ?

Mark Jamsek
04-24-2013, 06:34 AM
If I understand you correctly, the two scenarios are:

You warm up to a point where you begin your work sets knowing they're not close to your initial, which might entail 2-3 sets to reach your initial.
You warm up to singles where you estimate your first work set to be your initial based off the degree of RPE of your warm up singles, with intent that your first work set is your initial.

Scenario one could result in a lower intensity initial through the accumulated fatigue already obtained through the first 2-3 work sets before you reach your initial. Fatigue is accumulated both from work sets prior to your initial, and subsequent drop sets after your initial.

Scenario two could result in a higher intensity initial as it is your first work set so no fatigue has yet been accumulated, and the volume and fatigue will entirely be obtained through the following drop sets.

Scenario 1: Might establish a more accurate initial (questionable), but could result in a less desirable training effect (lower intensity).
Scenario 2: Might establish a less accurate initial (questionable), but could result in a more desirable training effect (higher intensity).

Both scenarios accumulate the same amount of fatigue, just dispersed differently.

I favour scenario 2, and this is how I train. I know it goes against the standard RTS protocol to a point. I do notice that sometimes I get it wrong and my intended first set is too difficult due to misjudging my last warmup single (resulting in less reps or a higher RPE than prescribed for the day), conversely I also manage to go too light resulting in my first work set not being my initial, which then morphs into a scenario 1 situation anyway. But over time I am getting better at gauging my first work set weight so that it perfectly establishes my initial, or at least it is close enough that one more set at the same weight will obtain the right RPE to make set 2 my initial, or a slight increase in weight will result in set 2 being my initial.

I favour this (scenario 2) way because I believe too many sets prior to my initial does result in a less intensive initial, and given intensity provides the training effect we seek, I want to get the most out of each session. We might only be talking about a 5-15kg difference, depending on the lift, in initials between the two scenarios but it all counts in my opinion.

04-24-2013, 09:57 PM
Hi Mark,

Thank you for your answer, yes you got it right. Until now I mostly used scenario 1, I might give a shot at scenario 2 but I'm just wondering if it's not going to reduce the total volume and the stress induced.

Anyone else ?

04-24-2013, 10:10 PM
Both scenarios accumulate the same amount of fatigue, just dispersed differently.

That in my mind is the key. What I've found is that there's something important to my groove affected by the number of reps. Maybe it's placebo, but I find that I do better when I keep my warmup sets to the same rep range as the target work sets.

I have started doing however is making bigger jumps on my warmups. On DL, I always used to hit increments of 90, so: 135-225-315-405-495-585-605 or something similar.

Now, I tend to do something like 135-225-405-545-585-625 - just an example, but you get the idea, I get a few more pounds on my top work set.

I believe that Mike and Tron have experimented quite a bit with using singles to warmup and preserve energy for the work set. Hopefully they hop in here.

Mike Tuchscherer
04-25-2013, 07:00 AM
You can definitely go either way, but I would tend to favor Scenario 1 for most people. The reason is just that it allows you to more accurately gauge the top set. And once you get conditioned to it, I very much doubt that you're losing much on one or two work sets prior to the top set. If you're doing 8 reps or something, then that's different, but in that case it's not really about the total load used anyway.

I've been using a lot of singles in my training lately, but they aren't really part of a ramp-up. They are their own objective. For instance, this week I've been doing "x1 @8, drop x4 @9". So I'll work up to x1 @8 (a little heavier than an opener), then drop the weight down directly to a weight that I use for x4 @9. See some of my training blogs for examples. This only works if you're good at predicting what you need for the rep set, and even then I still get it wrong sometimes. But the single is also the heaviest weight I use for the day.

Mark Robb
04-25-2013, 05:52 PM
I agree with Bob and Mike here. I tend to favor scenario 1 also, but, like Bob, like making some pretty big jumps to get to my initial. As Mike says, doing the prescribed number of reps up to my top set definitely helps me to fine tune what that set should be. I often try to hit an @8 with the last set before the initial, then @9 with the top set. If the @8 feels heavier than it should, I can back off the weight a bit that I was planning for the @9 set. It's very difficult to do that if you are doing singles up to the initial.

04-25-2013, 08:50 PM
Alright, so I'll keep doing 1. Thanks :)

Mark Jamsek
04-26-2013, 09:28 AM
I'd definitely listen to Mike.

As time goes by I find myself more and more performing scenario 1 type sessions. Mostly because, like Mike said, it certainly allows a more accurate top set. And I was quite often completely misjudging my first set, mostly for reasons Bob described which is that the work up rep sets get you into a groove better preparing you for your top set.

And I think my concern of the small amount of fatigue accumulated from a couple @8 work up sets adversely affecting intensity of the initial is mostly unwarranted; in my case I think it's purely psychological.

I still aim to make my first set my initial, but now I undershoot to deliberately land on the lower side of prescribed RPE.

Bob, I want to do that - the bigger jumps, but my working weights are still too low to really do it. My rep work for squat and pulls are still only around 200kg, so I really have to stick with the 40kg jumps, then I lower it to 20kg as I approach my first work sets. And even then I haven't quite worked out how close to work up with my work sets. As in if I'm pulling for x3 @9 with a belt I should be somewhere around 210-215kg initial depending on the day. So should I play my first work set close (200) or err on the lower side (180-190), i.e. possible @7 or @8 at most?

I've been reading a few different Blogs to try and come up with an answer, but most of you are much, much stronger than me so it's hard to convert the weights over.

04-26-2013, 11:13 AM
For the little that it is worth I like Scenario 2 but this is just a choice suiting my own personality and philosophy. I would not argue to someone for or against.
If I could get away with doing no warm up at all I would do it :) and in fact most of the time I do not warm up for any other movement after my initial movement if I am training a similar movement.
If I feel sufficiently warmed up after doing some progressive singles (even if my worksets are sets of 10) then that is perfect for me.