I'm doing a program that promotes warm-up sets before performing working sets at maximum weight.
At the moment I do 3 warm-up sets at increasingly heavier weight, and am considering changing the warm-up exercises to a similar but slightly more challenging varient.
The example I'm thinking of is with back squats with 3 warmup sets. Instead of doing the back squats for the warmups I was considering doing,:
- 1x5 reps overhead squat @ 20% * 5RM
- 1x5 reps overhead squat @ 40% * 5RM
- 1x5 reps front squat @ 60% * 5RM
- 3x5 reps back squat @ 100% * 5RM
The reason I've chosen those exercises, is that I find overhead squats more challenging on my core and stability, however its much harder to perform at high weight. However, the movement is quite similar, so I assume it would still have provide an adequate warm-up for the quads/glutes.
Similarly, front squats again are generally performed at a lower weight than back squats, and have benefits for core strength. So far, I've tried this twice and haven't noticed any impact on my working sets, nor has it prevented me increasing the weight on the following workout.
The reason for performing a warm-up prior to the working sets, I'll quote Mark Rippetoe:
The warmup sets serve only to prepare the lifter for the work sets; they should never interfere with the work sets. As such they should be planned with this in mind. The last warmup set before the work set should never be so heavy that it interferes with the work set, but heavy enough that it allows the lifter to feel a heavier weight before he does the work sets. It might only consist of one or two reps even though the work sets are five or more reps.
The problem is, while I understand the benefit of a warm-up, I feel like I need something that is at least a little challenging. For example, a 20kg (bar-only) back squat is a non-challenging movement, however, when performed as an overhead squat, I don't feel any more strain on my quadriceps (the primary muscle of the working sets), However I feel the extra technique required for the overhead squat (which at 20kg is challenging) might have some positive impact in the long term - but I'm not sure.
What, if any, medium- or long-term impacts might I see by substituting warm-up sets with a more challenging variant?
If there are benefits, I'll probably ask a separate, similar question that addresses bench/overhead press and deadlifts.