RAMP Warm-Up For Strength Training (with Examples)

Skipping your warm-up or only doing a few light reps before lifting heavy weights can hinder your lifting potential (performance), put you at high risk of injury, and might leave you too sore for the gym the next day.

But we won’t let a lack of preparation hold you back from reaching your lifting goals!

In this article, we’ll dive into the benefits of the RAMP warm-up and explain why this technique is the most effective one to prepare your body for your strength training ahead.

In addition, we will offer you an example of a RAMP warm-up for both lower and upper-body workouts.

What Is R.A.M.P. Warm-up?

R.A.M.P stands for Raise, Activate, Mobilize, and Potentiate! R.A.M.P. is one of the most effective warm-up methods athletes and trainers use to prepare the body for the physical activity ahead, improve performance and reduce the risk of injuries.  

The “Raise” Phase 

It prepares your body for weightlifting or other exercises by gradually increasing your heart rate, blood flow, breathing, body temperature, and range of movement. 

You can do this through dynamic activities like:

  • Jumping Jacks
  • Skipping
  • Treadmill walks or Incline walks
  • Any other cardio equipment (Rower, Cross trainer, stepper, bike) depending on past injury and the session aim.

During this phase, it’s essential to start with a lower intensity and gradually increase the speed and effort of your movements. Also, ensure you warm up on a piece of equipment most specific to your session aim.

For example:

Supposed you start with a cardio exercise like a cross-trainer (which involves lower and upper body movement). In this case, begin with a resistance of 3 for the first minute or two, then gradually increase the resistance over 5 minutes (or every 2 minutes for 10 minutes) while maintaining your speed. This will slowly raise your heart rate and body temperature.

For the “Raise” phase of your warm-up, aim for an RPE of 5-6 (50-60% effort). You can measure the intensity of this warm-up using an RPE scale, which ranges from 1-10 (where 1 is ‘too’ easy and 10 is exhaustion). This will ensure that you are warming up effectively without overexerting yourself.

The “Activation” Phase 

Muscle activation is crucial for a successful warm-up because it helps engage and “fire up” the muscles you’ll use during your workout. This allows the muscles to generate more force and power, improve neuromuscular coordination, activate underactive muscles, prevent compensations, and reduce the risk of injury and fatigue.

An effective way to do this is through various exercises that target the muscles you will be using in your workout, such as:

  • Bodyweight squats
  • Lunges
  • Press-ups
  • Shoulder external rotations
  • The lateral mini-band walk
  • Bridges
  • Banded marching 

But some muscles don’t fire due to past injuries, muscle imbalances, lack of neuromuscular coordination, poor posture, or inactivity.

In this case, activation becomes more than just targeted exercises but more about the mind-muscle connection. This involves your brain sending neural signals to the muscle fibers, causing them to contract and generate tension. In simple words, to engage, fire, and activate!

For example, the glutes are a muscle that can be difficult to activate in some people. By doing a single or double leg bridge and holding the top position, you can focus on ‘firing up’ the muscle “, improving your squatting performance and posture, and reducing the risk of injuries.

The “Mobilization” Phase

Mobilization is the process of increasing joint mobility and range of motion through DYNAMIC movement and mobilizations like:

  • Leg swings
  • World’s greatest stretch
  • Fire hydrants
  • Shoulder circles 
  • Knee to wall
  • Deep squat
  • Downward dog

As you see, I highlighted the word DYNAMIC. Why?

Research has shown that static stretches (which involve holding a stretch position for an extended period) can negatively affect force production, power, and strength performance when completed BEFORE training. 

Therefore, dynamic mobilization and stretches are better for warming up and preparing the body for physical activity.

4. The “Potentiation” Phase

This phase aims to prepare the muscles and the nervous system for heavier load and more intensity!

Here you are performing lighter versions of your primary movements (depending on which one you focus on in the session) until you reach the weight you want to work with! 

Some primary movements include:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Bench press
  • Overhead press
  • Bent over row

Some argue they may become fatigued before their heavy lifts if they incorporate potentiation exercises into their warm-up routine. However, this is not necessarily true, as it can improve performance during heavy lifting rather than make you tired. 

This is because the lighter weights activate and “wake up” more motor neurons, which generate force and power in your muscles.

When more motor neurons are activated, it leads to greater force output, improved strength, power, and performance, allowing you to lift heavier weights more easily.

It will also increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, reducing the likelihood of fatigue and injury during the workout.

Benefits of RAMP Warm-Up

Some of the key benefits of the RAMP warm-up include the following:

  1. Reduced risk of injury: The dynamic exercises involved in the RAMP warm-up gradually prepare the muscles, joints, and nervous system for the upcoming activity, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
  2. Improved performance: By raising the body temperature and heart rate, activating the muscles, mobilizing the joints, and potentiating the nervous system, individuals can improve their overall performance during the workout.
  3. Increased flexibility & mobility: The mobilization phase of the RAMP warm-up involves exercises that focus on increasing joint mobility and flexibility, which can help individuals achieve a greater range of motion during their workout.
  4. Enhanced blood flow: The RAMP warm-up increases blood flow to the working muscles, providing them with the necessary oxygen and nutrients for optimal performance.
  5. Time-efficient: The RAMP warm-up can be completed relatively quickly, making it a time-efficient way to prepare the body for physical activity.
  6. Increase core temperature and metabolic rate: This can enhance calorie burn during your workout, which can be suitable for those looking to lose weight or improve body composition.
  7. Improved mental focus and concentration: This can be very beneficial because you focus on creating a mind-body connection and getting yourself into the right mindset for the workout ahead.

RAMP Warm-Up For Strength Training Examples


Pick one of the exercises from the Raising phase.

  • Spend 5-10 minutes on your chosen exercise to warm up properly.
  • Adjust the duration based on factors like previous injuries or morning stiffness (in the morning, we need a longer warm-up after just getting out of bed).
  • Gradually increase the intensity (resistance) to reach 50-60% of your maximum effort (RPE 5-6) and ensure a safe and effective warm-up.

After the initial exercise, move on to next phases.

  • If time is limited, choose two exercises from each phase.
  • Alternatively, complete the entire warm-up as outlined above, except the Potentiation

The exercises you would pick from Potentiation phase should align with your session’s objective. For example:

  • Only the snatch balance exercise is necessary if you’re focusing on snatches.
  • Explosive/plyometric exercises such as box jumps can increase power and assist with heavier squats, making them an excellent warm-up for squats.
  • Before deadlifts, I recommend kettlebell swings.
  • Before bench presses, you can do bench presses with lighter weights or plyometric press-ups

This routine should take 15 – 20 minutes, including the Potentiation part.

Upper Body RAMP Warm Up

upper body ramp warm up
RowerV Shoulder External RotationsShoulder DislocationsBench Press
SkippingKettlebell Upside down PressOpen PageSnatch Balance
Cross TrainerWall ball circlesScapular Push-upsMedicine Ball Chest Throws
Jumping Jack or Mountain ClimbersScapular Wall Slides Arm Circles Plyo Push-ups

Lower Body RAMP Warm Up

lower body ramp warm up
StepperBridge/Single Leg BridgeDeep Squat HoldBox Jumps
Jumping Jacks/High Knees/Mountain ClimbsSide Plank Clam Shell/Lateral Mini Band WalkFire HydrantsKettlebell Swings
Cross TrainerBanded Sprinters Wall DrillWorld’s Greatest stretchDeadlifts
CyclingDead BugsKnee to WallSnatch Balance

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Alexandra Kovacsova
I'm Alexandra, a UK-based strength coach & rehab specialist. I help people prevent, treat, and resolve pain, improve their movement, and maximize their performance. I share my expertise through writing, offering relevant and scientifically supported content, and practical exercises. In my free time, I train for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and enjoy a honey oat latte at a local coffee shop.

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