Warm-Up Sets vs Working Sets


We’ve had a lot of repeat questions lately in our Paragon Training Methods community about warm-up sets vs working sets, how to properly warm-up a lift, and also if warm-up sets are even necessary. Long story short, it depends.


In our workouts, you’ll commonly see programming like this:

RDL (Romanian Deadlift)
2-3 warm-up sets, then:
2 work sets x 8-12 Reps
(2-3 reps from failure)
Rest 2 min

“Warm-up Sets” = exactly as they sound. These are going to be lighter sets that get heavier and heavier with each set, so you’re prepared to rip heavy weights for your working sets.

“Working Sets” = your difficult or challenging sets where you’re pushing hard and lifting at the prescribed “Reps From Failure.”

Generally in our workouts, we want you to be ~2-3 reps from failure. Meaning you’re not redlining or emptying the tank… but you’re definitely busting your butt and trying hard. If you want to read more about how we define reps from failure, check out this recent blog post (:

Why Warming Up Matters

You DEFINITELY shouldn’t be skipping the warm-up sets on your lifts.

If you’re *just* doing 2-3 work sets of however-many-reps… vs 2-3 sets of warm-up reps AND the working sets – that’s missing out on a LOT of training volume over the course of a training day, let alone training over weeks and months!

Skipping warm-up sets is pretty much like choosing violence and throwing gains and progress out the window.

And if you don’t need any OR don’t need many warm-up sets, we’d suspect that maybe you’re sandbagging and not trying hard enough or not lifting as heavy as you could or should be. Yup. We said what we said.

Look, if I was gonna Squat 250, I couldn’t just rip that cold or after 1-2 warm-up sets – you know what I mean?

*Note: if you’re not doing big compound lifts (parts A or B of our workouts) and you’re onto later parts of programming (parts D, E, F, etc) – you’re already warm, so you may just need a warm-up set or two before cruising – and that’s ok!

General Rule of Thumb for Warm-Up Sets

Start with 50% of your working weight x 10-12 reps
Then go for 75% of working weight x 5-6 reps

Example: RDL @ 100 lbs
Warm-up Set 1: 10-12 reps @ 50 lbs
Warm-up Set 2: 5-6 reps @ 75 lbs
2 Work Sets of 8-12 reps @ 100 lbs

If you don’t know your work set weight, no sweat. Use your warm-up sets to feel it out (:

Need a Place to Start?

“More” doesn’t always equal better. Good programming (like ours) will provide a massive return on investment of your time AND energy spent working out.

We want you to enjoy fun and effective workouts, and then go make memories and live a BIG life (:

You also don’t HAVE to train 6-7 days/week to finally achieve your goals and look your best. We have thousands of members around the globe who can prove it ♥️

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No matter which program you choose, you’ll have:

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