3RM Very Close to 1RM

This isn’t exactly a problem or anything, but it just seems a little off to me.

When I bench, if you take my training 1RM as 100%, my 3RM is sitting somewhere around 97% of that. Now, strength and size are improving so I don’t care THAT much, but I really think that my 1RM should be quite a bit higher relative to my 3RM. Something more like 90-92%.

My best guess is that this just indicates I have a lot of slow twitch fibers in my chest and triceps.

What kind of tweaks could I use in my training to “improve” this ratio? Lighter dynamic benching to improve/force explosiveness? Something like the smith machine presses where you literally throw the bar up in the air? Or even explosive reps against chains?

My training right now looks like this:

Ramp 3, 2, 1
Slowly ramp triples for volume starting at 70%
Speed/form reps at 50%, 2x5, slow eccentric, fast concentric

Again, not really a big deal, just looking for some explanation and ideas. Thanks for any help.

I have noticed something similar to this in the past. Why? Not exactly sure, but here’s my conclusion. I was doing a lot of “triples” sets, and we all know that the more you practice something, the more efficient you become at it. So maybe you are just getting way more proficient at pushing heavy weight for sets of three. Maybe try switching up your “triples for volume” to singles for volume at 90-95% of 1rm and see what happens. (Something like CT’s Heavy Singles Program)

jbal is right. Its probably just neural efficiency. 3 Reps seems to be your own “training zone”.

Which brings up the question: What exactly do you want to see?
If you want to increase your 1RM, then focus on that!

It has nothing to do with having a lot of slow twitch fibers. A 3RM is still highly fast twitch dependant; being better at triples than singles is in no way indicative of having less fast-twitch fibers.

My guess, like others have mentionned, is a neural efficiency thing. Specifically I see two possibilities:

  1. You have a lot more experience with triples than singles… you become good at what you train. And while a set of 3 and a set of 1 are in the same zone, they are two different animals. YES improving one will lead to an improvement in the other, but it you do not practice one thing you will not optimize it. Which is one of the reasons why Bulgarian olympic lifters do mostly singles on the olympic lifts and sometimes doubles (except for warm-ups they don’t do 3s). I’m not saying to switch the singles, but that is a possible explanation.

  2. Could be a protective thing. Your body might not feel confident handling maximum loads. I’m not saying that you are scared or anything, but that your body’s “sensors” (GTOs among others) get into alarm mode when the load is maximal, preventing you from using most of your resources. Supra-maximal work (partials, holds, negatives) is the best way to reprogram that.

But if I had to choose, if size was my goal I’d rather be really good at 3s than really good at 1s… if competing in strength events was my goal then it would be the opposite.

If layering one lift a day, you can do a strength focused cycle where you would do 90+% singles following a daily max ramp for the lift. Be sure to stay away from grinding–do singles and stop before you feel you are about to grind. Thereafter you can incorporate some of the techniques CT mentioned.

Another method I currently use is to hit a daily max with a chosen lift EVERY training day BEFORE moving on to the movement of that day. Frequency is a very powerful tool and easy to incorporate if you want to bring up one lift. Just hit a “heavy-but-not-ultra-hard” single and move on–it should take between 5-10 minutes. Even if you’re hitting 80-85% tops, the increased practice will make heavier loads for that movement “seem” easier. And if you’re smart about the rest of your training/recovery, you can do this in the middle of a hypertrophy cycle and not change anything else.

Thanks for the explanations. I think I’ll stick with the triples for now.

The “protective mechanism” idea is interesting. When I eventually get to caring specifically about my max single, I’ll incorporate some supra-maximal work and see what happens.

Looks like I was understanding the “problem” wrong.