Bodybuilder Hunter Labrada Shares How Many Warm-Up Sets He Does During a Workout

Simple, light warm-ups are the key to a safer workout.

Almost everyone is guilty of phoning in their warm-ups before a workout at some point — but it’s not something to take lightly. There’s a large body of research that says warming up helps raise your body temperature and promotes blood flow to your muscles to reduce the risk of injuries, prepares your cardiovascular system for the workout ahead, and gets you into the right mindset to lift. (1) And if you need to get your warm-up game in better shape, bodybuilder Hunter Labrada just uploaded some easy tips onto his YouTube channel that could help get you there.

[Related: Best Pre-Workout Supplements for Muscle Gain, Weight Loss, and More]

Labrada’s Warm-Up Advice

Labrada, son of 1985 Mr. Universe Lee Labrada, says he aims for four to five warm-up sets before each of the first two exercises he performs during any given workout. According to Labrada, these are the most important warm-up sets since this is when the body is at its coldest. But he stresses that these sets should also be easy, with the first two being “laughably light.” If that means doing some squats with an empty bar to avoid a muscle strain, so be it.

After those first two criminally light warm-up sets are done, Labrada says to dial the third one up to 50% of your heaviest working set weight for 10 reps. You can follow that with sets at 75% for six to eight reps and 90% of your top set weight for one or two reps. (Though, he does emphasize that these percentages are just guides and not concrete numbers.)


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A post shared by Hunter Labrada IFBB Pro (@hunterlabrada)

Once those first two exercises are in the rearview, Labrada says the rest of the exercises in your workout might only call for one warm-up set at 50% to 75% of your top weight to get your body ready. But don’t overthink it — the goal, he says, isto do as little as possible to be as safe as possible.”

In the video, Labrada points out that this strategy is geared toward people lifting in a progressive overload style, where you might only be doing two or three heavy working sets at low volume (volume defined as total sets and reps) for each exercise. And while his warm-up strategy might work for an Olympia prep, it won’t make sense for every program.

Labrada’s Looking Ahead

Labrada placed fourth at the 2021 Mr. Olympia contest and is currently deep into his prep work for the 2022 show.

In an Instagram post from July 25, 2022, he wrote that he had just weighed in at 279 pounds on his journey to improve his placing this year. Labrada jumped from eighth place at the 2020 Olympia to fourth in 2021 — a similar jump in 2022 would put him right in the Sandow conversation.

More Warm-Up Content

For more warm-up-related content, check out these other articles from BarBend


  1. Park HK, Jung MK, Park E, Lee CY, Jee YS, Eun D, Cha JY, Yoo J. The effect of warm-ups with stretching on the isokinetic moments of collegiate men. J Exerc Rehabil. 2018 Feb 26;14(1):78-82. doi: 10.12965/jer.1835210.605. PMID: 29511656; PMCID: PMC5833972.

Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram