It’s not uncommon for our coaches to request an athlete test their One-repetition maximum (1RM) on specified barbell lifts. A 1RM test is considered the gold standard for assessing the strength capacity of an individual.
Once you establish your 1RM’s, it will be easier for you to set goals for the future and to evaluate your progress over time.
How do I know if I am ready to test a 1RM?
Can you perform the exercise with proper form through the full range of motion?
Can you brace properly? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtB7z6l6U9s)
Can you manage your ego and only choose weights that you can safely handle?
Great news, you are ready to test your 1RM!
When should I test a 1RM:
It’s ideal to test after following a progressive overload program for 3-6 months. During this time you should get some practice with doing heavier loads and lower reps (1-5) in the 3-6 weeks prior to testing.
You should also take a 4-7 day “deload” prior to your 1RM testing for best results.
It’s also worth decreasing other high-intensity activities like hiking, biking in the days prior to your testing for the best results.
How do I prepare for testing?
Be sure to get a solid night of sleep the night before testing, have a full, balanced meal with 30 g protein, 50 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of fat about 2-3 hours before you test. Having another snack an hour before and bringing some liquid carbs like Gatorade or juice isn’t a bad idea.
How do I warm up on 1RM testing day?
Perform your usual dynamic warm-up. Do not stretch too much or fatigue your body with the warm-up. It can be helpful to perform mindful breathing and bracing drills before you start and also to visualize yourself successfully completing your goal.
How do I set up for a 1RM test?
If you are squatting or benching, make sure to use a bench or squat rack that has safety spotters. Set them up so that if you miss a lift, you can set the bar down on the rack.
How to test a 1RM:
Follow this scheme, or close to it, based on how you feel. The key is to warm up well without tiring yourself out.
Bar – 1 x 10 or RPE 1
40-50% – 1 x 6 or RPE 5
75% – 1 x 5 or RPE 7.5
80% – 1 x 2 or RPE 8
90 % – 1 x 1 or RPE 9
Perform 3-4 singles up to the max weight you are able to do for the day.
Ask for a spotter on squats and bench for your last few reps!
Remember, the goal is to lift a max single with good form, not to grind it out and hurt yourself!
How far to push it:
There may be some minimal form breakdown on your last rep, but overall posture should be maintained as well as tension in your body. Be sure to film your sets because the breakdown we observe in your max reps can be crucial in identifying your weakness and making adjustments to your form and accessories in your upcoming training sessions!
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