I found this interesting tidbit in a lecture given by the great Bulgarian coach Abadjiev:
"We can use pulse rate to discover the maximum weight. If the athlete has a pulse of less than 180, it means that he can do more." http://tinyurl.com/4vgczv8 (scroll to very end of transcribed lecture to see this quote)
Obviously, the number may be lower for somebody older (like me). Anybody here ever played around with this notion? I am intrigued by it.
I also read that the russians used various methods to see how your CNS was...
How many keyboard presses (of the same key with your forefinger) you could do in a 15second period. Get an average. When your smashed from training your number should be less then this so don't max out.
I use to go by off how long my standing broad jump was.
Then I thought f0ck it and just max out all the time. Just willed myself to lift when I was tired and it worked out well. Hit 115/140 consistently for a 3 week period. Best 3 weeks training of 12yrs training! I wasn't sleeping anymore, the 2nd week I only got about 25hrs sleep due to work.
I used to follow a similar system. If interested check out Mike Tuscherer's Reactive Training site, has a lot of info on it, and a service you can sign up for (I think $15 a month) to track it. He uses resting heart rate, a heart rate change once you stand up from resting, a reaction test, and a finger tap test. The problem I find is you almost try to cheat on all of these tests so you can get a good score a smash weights.
Now I just go in and if I'm feeling good I go for it, if I don't, I still go for it and if I can't get it I'll back off. I feel like you adapt to whatever circumstances you're in, as long as they're consistent. If you consistently change up your whole daily schedule your body never gets into a rhythm, and I think that's where most people make the mistake.
Max out once every 4-6weeks on squats. The main focus of squats is so you have enough leg strength to do your OLifts and to increase them. A fat 1RM isn't going to be all that if you can't get 3reps x 3sets heavy to a high %. In comp you have 3 big Snatches and 3 big C&J. Sometimes you follow yourself so you have to be prepared. If your gassed you can't lift properly/ well due to being let down by your lack of legs.
People get too caught up a fat 1RM. Volume and then build up the heavy weight works better imo.
Most people don't need to squat 6x a week or lift that much. 3x a week on lifts and squats is plenty imo until your clocking over 300 on the sinclair then you can mix it up. But most people are better off with more sleep.
But yeah it's hard to figure when to max out. Just go by how you feel in the gym. Yesterday for instance my body felt pretty beat up from the lack of sleep over 7 days, my bum was hurting from eitehr the hamstring/ glute thing I was doing or the numerous times I stacked it whilst trying to snowboard :P. BUT my lifts were good in my current shape, 110, 115, 118, 120, 125, 130, 130, 130 and then back squat 160x6; 170x4; 180x2. Best session of the year so my legs are getting back in to it!