Q&A: Heavy Warm Ups

September 25, 2012 — 2 Comments

Here’s a question from ShawnAcker from Fitocracy about my squat warm up:

Hey bro was looking at your workouts mad squats im hoping to eventually get to a high weight myself.. had a question tho..

Is there any reason you do light weight 1st ( as a warm up ill assume) but then you go right to heaviest but back down to lighter weights again.. do you find that helps?

I was told you were never suppose to go from heavy to light.. if that really matters i dunno.. but obviously your doing something right

My Answer:

Yes, going from a heavy weight during warm ups to a lighter weight for the work sets makes the load feel a lot lighter.

I got the idea of warming up to a weight that is heavier than the working set a few months ago. I also read about it from Charles Poliquin: http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/701/The_Best_Warm_Up_Procedure_For_Strength_Training.aspx

Basically the idea was to warm up to a weight that is a little heavier than the working set, so when you start doing squats on the working set, it will feel lighter.

Also, I read of something similar from Nick Horton: http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/21-day-squat-challenge but he writes about squatting up to a max, and then dropping down and doing a few backoff sets.

John Broz's method also goes up to a max squat, and then does a bunch of backoff sets.

Kirksman, who apparently trained with the Chinese weightlifting team writes about Chinese lifters going for a "daily max" then dropping the weight and perform more reps: http://www.pendlayforum.com/showpost.php?p=19037&postcount=59

What I've been experimenting with lately is hitting a heavy single (or double), before performing my work sets.

Currently for high bar squats my last "warm up" set is a single at 460lbs, and

My current high bar squat 1RM is 490lbs.

460lbs is challenging (94% 1RM), much higher than my working set of 395lbs, but it is not so difficult that it takes away from my work set. Once I hit my work set, 395lbs feels like nothing. I haven't tried squatting to a max every workout (yet) but it sounds exciting.

I also think that squatting heavy (90%+ 1RM) multiple times per week will get me, at least psychologically, accustomed to squatting loads near my 1RM and not be intimidated by heavy weights.

John Phung

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Ever since I started taking strength training seriously, I was bitten by the Iron Bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and I... the feeling is indescribable.

Quick Stats
Height: 5'4" on non-squat days
Weight: 200 lb 210 lb ~220 lb (FOREVER BULK BRAH)


  • Texas Method: March 4, 2011 - April 28, 2013
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