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ramping sets

Seven New Year’s Fat Loss Strategies

It’s 5:00 am. The wind is howling, temperatures freezing, and your alarm is ringing off the hook.

You could pull the covers, roll over, and hit snooze. But you’ve got bigger plans.

You’re kicking ass at work and now it’s time for the gym. Time to  conquer the world, one meeting, one workout, and day at a time.

Morning Rituals to Become Unstoppable

But there’s a problem.

You’re locked into work from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm. Between your commute, work, running errands, and side business there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Yes, you said you would train four times this week and figure out your diet, but you just don’t have time. Meh, how about next week instead?

Nonsense. “I don’t have time” is not a valid excuse.

When training for fat loss, it’s important to remember each workout should be completed while in a caloric deficit. The idea is to then use training to preserve your muscle and metabolism while creating an even bigger deficit for rapid fat loss.

With this in mind, long duration sessions (90 minutes plus) stink for fat loss. Rather than accelerate fat loss, they’re more likely to crush your motivation and consistency and lead to overtraining. 

Building a ripped, athletic body should improve your life, not consume it. your life, it should improve it.  In this post, I’ll share 7 fat loss strategies to trim your workouts and trigger massive fat loss.

High-Density Training 

Training density, the amount of work done relative to time, is extremely important for fat loss. Generally speaking, the greater the density, the greater caloric expenditure. This comes down to exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC works like debt. 

The more gassed you get during a workout the greater the oxygen debt. The oxygen debt must be repaid. You’ll  elevate your metabolism longer after your workouts. You’ll continue to burn more calories.


Here are the simplest ways to increase training density to boost fat loss:


Two opposing movements or muscle groups performed back to back.

1a. Dumbbell Push Press 4×6, Rest 0

1b. Chin Up Rest 4×6, Rest 90 seconds


Three non-competing exercises performed back-to-back-to-back before a longer rest.

1a. Dumbbell Push Press 4×6 ,Rest 0

1b. Chin Up Rest 4×6, Rest 0

1c. Goblet Squat 4×10, Rest 90 seconds

Giant Sets  

Four or more exercises performed in a row before a longer rest.

1a. Deadlift 4×5, Rest 0

1a. Dumbbell Push Press, 4×6 Rest 0

1b. Chin Up Rest 4×6, Rest 0

1c. Plank 4×45 seconds, Rest 90-120 seconds

These are all starting points and examples. Feel free to customize your own approach to training density.

Set Up Training Triggers 

Triggers are events that prompts the beginning of habit or activity.

Take waking up in the morning: You rub your eyes and narrowly miss stubbing your toe on your way to the bathroom. After that, you make a cup of coffee, take a shower, get dressed, brush your teeth, and head to work.

Waking up is the trigger, and each subsequent activity triggers the next.

Like these events, time-based triggers help you stick with routines over and over again.


Take working out: Your alarm going off at 5:00 am triggers you to wake up, make a cup of coffee, and throw on the workout clothes you set out last night.

Setting the right environment and a consistent training time is one of the best fat loss triggers you can use. Morning workouts are the best method to be proactive in your health before your reactive to the constant inputs from work, life, family etc. during rest of your day.

Be Accountable to Someone 

This is as simple as joining an online forum and posting your workouts. Or, you can ask a friend or family member to check in on your progress each week.

personal training referrals

Taken a step further, invest in a coach. Getting a coach improves your accountability through answering to someone and financially investing your behavior in their expertise. If you constantly struggle with training consistency, then hiring a coach is a wise decision.

Train First thing In the Morning 

If it’s important, do it first thing in the morning. Ever notice how the days you roll over, hit the snooze, and lay in bed are your least productive?

You’re groggy, tired, and need enough coffee to tranquilize an elephant to be a functioning member of society.

Yea, those days suck.


The first decision of your day is indicative of how successful that day will be.

Eliminate the decision, wake up, and get your training done first thing in the morning.

The reasoning is simple—decisions fatigue us, and setting your day with morning rituals like working out helps you become unstoppable. Start the day off with small victories.

Related: Seven Secrets for Early Morning Workouts


Time Block Training 

Time block training is my favorite method for completing isolation for muscle growth, but is also one of my top Fat Loss Strategies because of high training density.

Set a timer for a part of your workout, and get as many high-quality reps and sets as possible.

This method can break up different portions of a workout as well.

If you have 40 minutes to train, try this:

Warm-Up: 6 Minutes

Athleticism: 5 Minutes (11 total)

     Box Jumps x5

     Plyo Push-Ups x5

     Rest 30-60 seconds between each set, go until the timer is off.

Strength: 15 Minutes (26 total)

Squats x4

Chin Ups x4

Rest 90-120 seconds between each set, go until the timer is off.

Hypertrophy: 8 Minutes (34 total)

    Bulgarian Split Squat x8

    Dumbbell One Arm Row x10

    Feet Elevated Push Up x12

Conditioning Work 6 minutes (40 total)

   Bike intervals 30 seconds on, 30 Seconds Rest

The key here is to focus on quality, despite a higher tempo. If you reach technical failure (form breaks down), drop the weight and increase your rest. Quality must always trump quantity.

Ramping Sets 

Through gradually increasing resistance and managing fatigue, ramp loading supercharges your strength while warming up your body.

A key to shorter workouts, ramping sets allow shorter rest periods, the same volume, and more strength on top-end strength sets to preserve your strength and muscle during a fat loss phase. 


In other words, you start off slow, but finish strong with the most important parts of your workout to build more strength, and size.

Squat Training Max: 405 lbs.

Set and Rep Scheme: 5×2

Heaviest Workload for the Day: 95% 1-RM= 385lbs

Warm-Up: 135×5; 185×5

Work Sets:






Ramping Sets for More Strength 

One Strength Move, Then Drop Set

Saving the best for last, this is my favorite lifting method when short on time. Basically, you ramp up to a heavy work set, say 5×3 to build strength.

Then, hit a drop set with a weight you can lift 10-15 times until near failure. This way, you’ll increase metabolic and mechanical stress to build muscle, and send your heart rate sky-high. After the big lift, the rest of the workout is a bonus, as you’ve already gotten stronger and stressed your body.

The Seven New Year’s Fat Loss Strategies

  • Set Up Training Triggers
  • Train First Thing in the Morning
  • Be Accountable to Someone
  • Density Training
  • Time Block Training
  • Ramping Sets
  • One Strength Move, Then Drop Set

The New Year is when many people vow to transform their bodies. Once and for all you’ll lose the last ten pounds. Finally, you will gain the lean muscle to look more athletic and confident. Take the vow to take control, and start taking action.

All the power you need is within. You’ve got this. Take the proper steps and behaviors. Celebrate the win, workout by workout and meal by meal. Soon, the small victories add to huge changes. 


No matter your schedule you CAN get it done. If you need help with accountability, nutrition, and training to maximize your results then I’d love to help.  

Head over to my Online Coaching Page here and fill out a form. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours to take the next steps to Accelerating Your Fat Loss in the New Year. Apply Within


Apply Now
I’d love to help you become your best self. Next step could be a free Skype call.

I respect your privacy and will never share your email address.

The Right way to Implement Ramping Sets for Strength

When you’re a beginner, straight work sets work great to stimulate massive gains in strength, performance, and muscle.

Problem is, 5×5 at 85% 1-RM gets increasingly difficult the more time you spend under the bar.

No longer is your max 185bs on the deadlift. It’s now 365lbs, a  massively significant training stress on your joints, muscles, nervous system, and psyche.

Soon, you’re no longer smashing your work sets with two minutes or rest in-between. Far from it. Now, you’re heaving and hawing like American Pharaoh after the Preakness, and missing reps on weights you should crush.


By the fifth set, you’re cashed, pissed at your ineptitude, and questioning “whether this program even works.”

Straight set programs like Bill Starr’s 5×5 are classics that work great with beginners,  but as your abilities in gym improve your methods need to adapt to the greater demands of hard training.

In other words, you need to lift smarter. 

This is done with ascending loading, or ramping.  Instead of straight sets, ramping gradually activates the nervous system with progressively heavier weights, leading up to your heaviest work sets at the end the exercise.

This way, you’ll lift heavy enough and with enough volume to stimulate progress, yet preserve the body from bombing out and missing reps, and frying your nervous system. 

Ascending Loading Sciencez 

I already know what you’re thinking:

“Won’t ramping result in lifting less weight overall? I mean, if I’m using lighter loads early on won’t my total work load be less, and minimal my maximum swollage and training gains?”


Think of your set-rem scheme as a multi-lap race. If you blow through your fuel source from the get-go, you’ll fizzle out and get smoked in the last few laps.

In ramping, you’ll grease the groove, reinforce your technique, and get dialed in for victory. Rather than blowing through the gas tank in lap one, you’re making calculated moves to get into position and take home the gold on your final lap.

The Power of Submaximal Training

Now, before you run away and “tweet” that Eric Bach says only lift tiny weights, let me re-iterate:

By using a gradual ramp, you’ll activate your nervous system gradually, preserving it for top end sets.

With ramping sets, you’ll gradually ramp up from 40-60% of your max towards 80% -1 RM or higher for pure strength work.

Plus, there’s a huge benefit to sub-maximal ramping sets:

increased strength-speed and explosive power.

This means you’ll get stronger and more athletic by lifting lighter loads faster.

By moving weights as fast and as hard as possible, you’ll recruit a greater number of muscle fibers for more muscle growth, stimulate the nervous system, all while allowing you to use awesome technique with lighter payloads.

By using lighter weights, we hone in on the technical quality and explosive intent on every rep, rather than just trying to survive.

Submaximal ramping sets help you minimize fatigue during early work sets. This lets you reinforce wicked awesome technique and incredible bar speed for more power. You’ll preserve the nervous system for your heaviest sets.  

CNS Potentiation Scienzez:

Stay with me, as this gets a little deep. Keep your eyes on the bolded text if you want the cliff notes on how this will help your gains.

The driving force behind ascending loading schemes is potentiating the nervous system and muscles for greater levels of performance while intelligently managing fatigue associated with lifting big weights.

ramping sets for strength

To better understand this, a few things happen as the nervous system becomes excited after a heavy resistance exercise:

  • According to Hamada et. el (2000), there is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains during a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC).

This allows the actin and myosin binding (for muscle contraction) to react to the increased calcium release. This reaction triggers a cascade of events leading to enhanced force muscle production at the structural level of muscle (Horwath & Kravitz ).

Thus, increased muscle activation yields a greater duration of calcium ions in the muscle cell environment, yielding a greater phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein (Rixon et al. 2007).

In other words, by moving the bar as fast as possible and/or against a heavy load, you improve force production at the muscular level.

Another Theory

The second theory is based on the H-reflex, an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by afferent muscle nerves. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle (Robbins, 2005).

Basically, your nervous system gets all jacked up and is prepared for increasingly heavier loads when you maximally contract the muscles through heavy weight or maximal bar speed.

When fatigue is managed in conjunction with increased nervous system function you have the recipe to generate more force and in this case, lift heavier weights.

Sample Progression

Here’s a sample progression on how you can implement ramping sets into your training.

Squat Training Max: 405 lbs
Set and Rep Scheme: 5×2

Heaviest Workload for the Day: 95% 1-RM= 385lbs

Warm-Up: 135×5; 185×5

Work Sets:

  • 225×2
  • 275×2
  • 315×2
  • 365×2
  • 385×2

This way, you’re total volume will be lower. But rep quality should be much improved with more explosive power to boot.

Straight sets are fine when you’re starting out, but as your experience improves your methods must adapt to your new levels of performance. That means smarter progression and loading schemes, like ascending loading to take your gains to the next level.

That’s Not All:

Building a body that’s strong, shredded, and explosive isn’t easy. If it was, more of us would be playing competitive sports past our High School days.

But just because your competitive days are over, doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from training like an athlete.


Let’s Face it

Most lifters plateau in the gym but stay mediocre because they continue doing what they’ve always done.

They lift only heavy or only with volume.

They focus on the weight or muscle instead of explosive rep quality.

Make no mistake about it: lifting heavy with sufficient volume is important. But nothing trumps quality explosive reps for improving neuromuscular performance.

I’m here to show you how with a step by step guide, for less than the price of your protein powder.

Now is the time to take your training to the next level.

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Hamada T, Sale DG, MacDougall JD, Tarnopolsky MA. Postactivation potentiation, fiber type, and twitch contraction time in human knee extensor muscles. J Appl Physiol. 2000 Jun;88(6):2131-7.

Horwath, R., & Kravitz , L. (n.d.). postactivation potentiation: A brief review. Informally published manuscript, Exercise Science , Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/postactivationUNM.html

Rixon KP, Lamont HS, Bemben M. Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007; 21: 500–505.

Robbins, D.W. Postactivation potentiation and its practical applicability: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res. 2005, 19(2): 453-458.

Siff, M., & Verkhoshansky, Y. (1999). Supertraining: Special strength training for sporting excellence : A textbook on the biomechanics and physiology of strength conditioning for all sport (4th ed., p. 164). Denver: Supertraining International


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