T Nation

% 1 RM

I’ll admit I’m somewhat newbish, so this may be a “duh!” question. But I’m sure there are a lot of newbees wondering the same thing.

A whole lot of the programs on here give figures like “use 85% of your 1-rep max.” Maybe this works great for those of you who know your 1-rep max. But since I train alone and I’m just beginning to learn through doing the proper technique for exercises like the squat and deadlift, how am I supposed to know this figure? Do you know what would happen if a newbee training alone with still-learning form tried to test his 1-rep max on a difficult lift like the squat, or, God forbid, the bear? He’d get injured.

I’ve had a handful of injuries, so maybe I’m a little over-cautious about not wanting to drop any heavy weights on my spine. But I’m not a pussy about hard work. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.

use your 3 rm weight for 85% of your 1 rm. That’s what I would do.

I would say simply just train and train hard. As a newbie you should experience good gains regarless of what % you are working at as long as you are doing so. As for figuring you 1RM max I would find a friend to spot you but would attempt to figure it until you are confident with the movements and are able to control the stresses of the heavy weights. Just my two sents.

I wouldn’t really worry about that for now, if you’re just learning technique. Just use a weight that you can handle in proper form for the desired number of reps AND the specified tempo. Start light, work your way up. I hardly know what my 1RM is in anything, but I know most of my 3RM or 5RM. They do change frequently though, which is the whole idea.

How long have you been training? If you’re not very familiar with your body, yet, try to just follow the rep ranges with whatever program you’re doing. Example, if the program says to do 4 sets of 6 reps, then experiment until you can find a weight that allows you to barely get those first 3 sets of 6 and for the last set you only have enough energy left to get 4 or 5 reps. When you can do all four sets of six, then you need a bit more weight. Make sure those reps in every set are done with good form. If the form breaks down halfway through each set, then you need less weight.
It sounds like you need to get to know your body and it’s limitations for a while. Keep a training log so you can measure your progress for each lift and you will get the hang of it.
Let me know if this wasn’t clear enough.
Hope this helps.
GaryE

Your XRM will go up and down a little sometimes anyway, especially when you are new to the game. As for the 1RM of The Bear you’d have to look at what your weakest lift of the whole movement was: probably the push press, maybe the clean. That would then be your 1RM of The Bear. I’d just focus on whatever the program calls for- if it asks for 5X5 with 2 minutes rest between each set (strength set of OVT) then I’d go for as much as you can handle while feeling as though you are almost failing with good form on the last of every set. If it’s a volume/mass set and not a strength set you can go for failing on the very last rep of the very last set.

Thanks for the tips. To answer Gary E’s question, I’ve actually been lifting off and on since I was 16, and I’m 23 now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been lifting intelligently! I’m just beginning to digest the wisdom that is in T-mag. I still consider myself new to such lifts as the squat and deadlift. I do them with a high number of reps, and slowly add weight to the bar as I get more comfortable with it. I have yet to break 100 lbs in either lift, but I’ll get there and beyond in time.

Once again, thanks for the advice.

Ok, you said you haven’t broken 100 lbs in the deadlift or squat yet? You should be over 200 (ideally 300 for 4 reps +) on both easily for 15-20 reps. Look at Coach Davies Nitro Squat program. How big are you? If you are under 160 lbs this program with some sort of upper body maintenance will probably give you your first newbie gains. I’m guessing with proper eating as much as 20 lbs in 3 months maybe 6. OVT is a good program as well for a newbie or advanced lifter. Get on it! Time to get that squat up there killer!

I’m 5 foot 10, 150lbs and 13% BF. Two years ago I was 162lbs at the same %BF, but a few injuries got me sidetracked.

The Nitro program looks good. I may try it out in the future. I’m OK with building up my poundages slowly, 5 or 10 lbs a workout, however, since I’m still learning the movements and want to keep my form impeccable. I plan to be in the iron game into my old age. . .when I’m in my 60’s and I look back, I don’t think I’ll regret taking a few months rather than a few weeks to get my squat up past any given milestone.

Thanks for the encouragement.

While I agree with several of the other responses that your 1RM is not really a number that you have to know, I wanted to answer your original question.

There are several formulas for estimating 1RM based on your nRM load, where n=10 or 8 or 6 or 5, etc. The formulas are more accurate when you use a fairly low number for n.

Here’s a link for more info:

Estimating 1RM

From Brzycki’s Equation:
10RM = 75% of your 1RM
8RM = 80% of your 1RM
6RM = 86% of your 1RM
5RM = 89% of your 1RM
4RM = 92% of your 1RM

There are lots of inaccuracies with all of these types of formulas, but they can help you set a starting place in a workout that calls for a %RM