Q: I’m using the Power-Density Mass Workout, the first program with only the Ultimate Exercise for each bodypart. I like the simplicity of it and quick workouts, but I’m having trouble feeling the first power sets when I pyramid the weight. I really don’t feel the muscle working till the ending density sets [the faster 4×10 series]. Any suggestions?
A: Too often, trainees jump right into their heavy work sets with only a haphazard warmup—usually talking to their partner during that lighter preliminary work. In other words, maybe you aren’t doing FOCUSED warmup sets…
What do we mean by that? For one, your warmup reps should be slower than those in your work sets so that you can get in touch with the target muscles—you gotta FEEL them working. That’s very important if you want the most massive growth activation during your heavy work sets…
You also need to do some of your warmup reps in nonlock style. That produces occlusion, or blood-flow blockage, so that when you stop the set, blood rushes in and primes the muscle and nervous system for optimal firing.
In Chapter 12 of the 3D Muscle Building e-book, our Positions-of-Flexion mass-building manual, we discuss proper warmup and its importance based on scientific studies. In one of those studies, researchers placed a blood-pressure cuff on subjects’ upper arms for two minutes—to get occlusion in the forearms. The cuff was then removed, blood rushed into the lower arms, and the subjects did wrist curls.
Result: Those who had their blood flow impaired prior to the wrist curls showed a 20 PERCENT strength increase over those who didn’t use the blood-pressure cuff. That indicates significantly better muscle-fiber recruitment via enhanced blood flow after the occlusion.
In other studies, researchers have found that properly performed lighter warmup sets have similar effects in that they help the target muscle contract much better than without those preliminary lighter sets—about 20 percent better. There’s that 20 percent figure again.
Wouldn’t you like to make 20 percent better gains just by properly warming up? Absolutely!
So what is a proper warmup? For big compound, or midrange, exercises, we recommend at least 2 progressively heavier warmup sets. Here’s one of our suggestions from the 3D Muscle Building e-book:
Warmup set 1: Take 60 percent of your work-set weight and do 10 reps—five full-range reps and five partials. Go from full stretch to complete lockout on the first five, to lube your joints, then do the second five only through the bottom two-thirds of the stroke, without locking out. Remember, move somewhat slower than on a standard work set.
Warmup set 2: Up the poundage to 80 percent of your work-set weight. This time do four full-range reps and four nonlock partials for occlusion. (Individual strength may vary; if four plus four feels too taxing, try three plus three.)
Keep in mind that these warmup sets should not be overly stressful. You’re not trying to tax your strength, you’re aiming to amplify it via proper seeding of the tendons and ligaments, nervous system priming and heightened blood flow to the target muscles…
There are also a couple of advanced warmup sequences outlined in the 3D e-book, and both involve proven postactivation methods. With one, you get increased occlusion from an isolated contracted-position exercise added to the warmup mix—like cable flyes for chest…
With the other, you use an overload warmup set to trigger excess nervous-system excitation. We’ll have more on those in a future e-zine…
For now, give the above basic two-phase focused warmup sequence a go and you’ll almost feel your muscles start to grow from your very first power set.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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