Warmup Sets vs Working Sets
You start your general warmup. Maybe it's some quick cardio followed by some bodyweight exercises designed to get your heart rate up.
You then come across part 1 of your workout. It looks like this:
3x10 Back Squats
Rest: 2 Min
In this example, you want each set of back squats to feel like a 7 out of 10 in difficulty. Because of that, the first set in the series should already be prepped and ready to go.
In practice, you would start with a set or two of 4-5 Back Squats at a lighter weight before jumping into the working sets.
What are warmup sets?
A warmup set is a series of reps used to gradually build to an intended weight. These sets don't include the actual working sets of the workout. Referring to the above example, this would not include the first set of 10 Squats.
While you could technically just jump into your workout without warmup sets, you'll be able to get more out of your workout with them.
You'll notice that as you gain experience, it'll be harder to get to the intended weight without warming up. If you're trying to use 200lbs for your first set of squats, it probably won't be ideal to jump straight into 200lbs.
This way, you can truly hit the prescribed rep range and weight as intended. In this case:
A warmup set example:
5 Reps with the bar (45lbs)
5 Reps at 95lbs
3 Reps at 135lbs
3 Reps at 185lbs
then finally, your first set at 200lbs.
Why warmup sets help
With that said, using warmup sets allow you to get the most out of your training by preserving the intention of the workout. If 8 sets 3 of heavy deadlifts are planned for that day, you'll perform 8 truly heavy sets, versus doing 4 sets that feel like a warmup and then only getting 4 actual sets.
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