There is a common mistake many people new to lifting make and it could be hurting your progress. We notice it regularly with new people getting started with us and its one of the first things we guide you on to make sure you can build strength fast.

Warm-Up Sets ≠ Working Sets

While warming up is essential for preparing your muscles and joints, you shouldn’t be counting your warm-up sets for individual movements as part of your overall workload. If your program specifies 4 sets of 6 reps, you should only start counting your working sets once you’re lifting close to 90% of the maximum weight you plan on lifting for the day.

This will help to make sure you hit the prescribed load and volume and create the appropriate work load to stimulate a training response.

To illustrate:

Person 1:
Missing out on quality work/volume

  • 1st set: 60kg
  • 2nd set: 75kg
  • 3rd set: 85kg
  • 4th set: 100kg

Person 2:
Nailing work load / volume

  • 1st warm-up set: 60kg
  • 2nd warm-up set: 75kg
  • 3rd warm-up set: 85kg
  • 1st working set: 95kg
  • 2nd working set: 95kg
  • 3rd working set: 97.5kg
  • 4th working set: 100kg

With a prescription like 4 x 6, it is likely your are training for strength with a little bit of hypertrophy. if you are person 1, the first 3 sets wont be likely to provide enough of a stimulus to create any changes in strength/hypertrophy. Where as person 2 will be completing 4 fairly challenging sets that will definitely get the desired repsonse. Essentially this could lead to 4x faster results….

Focus on Effective Training

Different loads, sets, and reps cater to different fitness goals:

  • Strength: Low reps (2-6) with heavy loads.
  • Power: Explosive movements with low reps (1-5) and moderate to heavy loads.
  • Hypertrophy (Muscle Growth): Moderate reps (6-12) with moderate to heavy loads.
  • Endurance: High reps (12-20+) with lighter loads.

Make sure you are aligning your training efforts with your specific goals and understand the purpose of different sets and loads. This will ensure that every effort you put in brings you closer to your desired results. Focus on where it matters—your working sets—and make every rep count.