Regarding your 1 Rep Max

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Your one rep max is the heaviest weight you can lift for a single rep. We establish a one rep max (1RM) for multiple reasons.

Where do you stand?

– How much contractile force can you produce with solid technique?

Percentage work

–A true 1RM is your all out effort to lift a weight. A training max is 90% of this number and what we base training off of. This -10% is important for 2 reasons.

  1. Training close to your true 1RM is demanding on your body that can be counter-productive if you overtrain or injure yourself. We want to consistently improve and get stronger, and that is possible without ALWAYS training with your True 1RM. ” We don’t want to train maximally, we want to train optimally
  2. It accounts for the days that you are not prepared to lift at max capacity. Sometimes we are stressed, in the early stages of a cold, lacking in nutrition etc.

For athletes who have been with us for  longer than 6 months we use your 1RM to calculate your training max and the percentages used for training. For athletes with less experience we us a one rep heavy (1RH) to establish a weight that is challenging but can be safely lifted with solid form. Training percentages are based off of this weight for newbies until they attempt 1RM with a coach supervising.

Online calculators that work this out from your 5 or 10 rep max are not accurate – it’s better to do a proper test yourself and to utilize the 1RH if you are new to lifting.

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– Max or heavy singles demand huge amounts amount of muscular coordination, effort and force generation. Practicing these elements is key if you want to continue getting stronger. On top of that major benefit, your nervous system is heavily recruited in a way that is hard, if not impossible to replicate with repetition or tempo training. Plain and simple, 1RMs and 1RHs make you stronger. You should be doing them.


How often should you perform a 1RM or a 1RH?

Testing your 1RM or 1RH is a part of training but should not be done on a weekly or (for more in-depth programs) monthly basis.

There are two simple reasons for this:

  1. If you are new to lifting, a 1RM will not reflect your maximal strength. It takes practice to learn to recruit the muscles and coordinate the hinge and ball and socket joints of the body to perform what your brain wants them to do. You also should be solid in your understanding of how a good rep feels. Not “Okay I’ve  done squats and I rarely receive a no-rep”…but SOLID in knowing what a good rep feels like.
  2. After you have reached this point where you and your coach are confident with you performing a 1RM, then you should follow your program to the T and not perform a 1RM or 1RH unless called for. If you are in CrossFit then this is done via the WOD (which is programmed months in advance by professionals at our facility)

How to test your one rep max

  • Do a thorough warm up: first a general warm up for the body, then some warm up sets in the lift you are testing.
  • When you are warmed up, start doing single reps. * do not wear yourself out on warm-up sets, just hit the movement pattern with a steady increase in load each set
  • Take as much rest as you need to fully to recover between efforts.
  • Increment the weight up in whatever amounts you feel appropriate for you.
  • Keep going until you cannot complete a rep with good form.

Failing a lift

If you miss a rep at a weight or bail on the rep. That is normally where you stop and record you previous rep as your max. However, if you feel there was a mental barrier or improper tecnique that you can correct  if given another chance, then reset the weight, rest up and attempt the same weight again.

I encourage you to do a 1RM or 1RH with a partner or coach present to determine if your form is deteriorating or not. Sometimes you can feel strong but your mechanics and form will fail without you noticing. Another person can point this out to you and this will be where you stop for the day. You MUST NOT attempt more weight when the integrity of your rep deteriorates. Its a risk that is not worth taking and overall a dumb move.

You should also stop if you are no longer hitting the standards for the range of motion of that lift. If you are doing shoulder press for example and you are not locking the elbows out with control at the top of the movement, then you would not count that rep.

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Warm up
Your warm up should include a general movement warm up to raise your heart rate and body temperature. This can last anywhere from 5-10 minutes.  You can also do some mobility work after this, 2-5 minutes for most people, sometimes longer for others.

After you have had your general warm up, perform the 1RM movement with a light-moderate weight for 5-10 reps focusing on the mechanics of the move or the most important part of the lift for you. (this could be keeping your chest up, upper back tight or knees over the toes in the squat).

Now go up in weight and perform 1 set of 5 reps

Increment the weight up again and start hitting some doubles. These are two-rep sets that prep you for the heavy load. you should rest 2-3 minutes between doubles. and increment the weight up each set. I do no more than 3 sets.

Now move on to your singles. you should be using a weight that is challenging but that you expect to complete. I try to reach my max within 3 sets of singles. Take 3-4 minutes of rest between sets.

So your session could look like this:

  1. General Warm up (5-10 min)
  2. Mobility (5 Min)
  3. 10 reps (rest 2 min)
  4. Increase weight, 1 set of 5 reps (rest 2 min)
  5. Increase weight each set, 3 sets of 2 reps (rest 2 min/6 min total)
  6. Increase weight each set, 3 sets of 1 rep (rest 3-4 min/ 12 min total)
  7. 1RM or 1RH has been reached now cool down (3 min of stretching/mobilty)
Total Session time- 40 min


Author- Jeff Jucha


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