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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:

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: 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:

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.