T Nation

Bench: Rep vs Ultimate Strength


Does anyone see a disparity between rep strength on bench and ultimate strength on bench? It seems that i fall off on ultimate strenth compared to rep strength. I know that a lot of it can be bouncing and what not on reps, but still seems like I have a pretty good difference


I would agree, my rep strength doesnt always add up to my true 1-3rm. If I can do something for a triple I can usually add about 45-50lbs where on a 1rm calc it would be less


my rep calculators are great at 3 reps and under after that they are completely useless pretty much


only talking about bench for me ussually "calculators" are pretty accurate if i bench with exacly the same form.

Obliviously a calculator is going to be off if you rep with a bounce and max out with a pause. I don't bounce so even a slight touch and a pause rep make a big diffrence

Edit: never actually use calculators though, only time i use them is to see how much a desired PR would equal to on 5 reps and i ussually start trying to increase my 5 rep max to that number and the rest follows


The equation i use is pretty accurate for my squat, but bench it is way off. I'm currently trudging along towards 405. Current bests are 365x5, 315x12, but right around 385 it just falls flat. I've been trying to figure out if its a weak point or what


For a while my 1RM max was greater than my rep strength, but as I have upped my rep volume, I think my rep strength has slightly passed it. I have always been able to do at least 10% more for a single than what I could triple. Using rep calculators, my 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 rep maxes all calculate between 365 and 373. I have never attempted more than 350, and that was back in May, but I feel confident I could hit 365, but 370 would be iffy.


I think everyone is a little different so the generic calculators don't work great, but they seem to stay reasonable proportional for me individually even to a 10 rep max. Increasing one increases the other.


we have pretty much the same bench but I hit 385x2 and most definitely could not have done 365x5


The further away from a 1RM you get, the more you start to tax other energy systems that aren't strictly dependent on maximal force production. I'd venture a guess that for people who are very well conditioned from outside activities and actively train in a variety of rep ranges, the accuracy of the various calculations out there extend pretty far.

If you spend almost all of your time training in low rep ranges and get very little conditioning through other means, they'll break down more quickly than expected; the opposite should also be true, as extremely well conditioned lifters may outpace their estimated 1RM at higher ranges. I'm sure there are more factors (alternate neuromuscular pathways when using sufficiently light weights, as there's been some evidence for) and there will always be exceptions out there, but that's my theory.


I don't believe the OP was talking about the calculators. Do you train primarily in the higher rep ranges?

I find they're a reasonable estimate. It's not spot on but it's not 45lbs off the mark either.


He mentions using an equation, and that said equation is accurate for his squat, but not his bench.


Equation or not though, if he can press 365x5 then he should be able to press more than 385?


I'd assume so, yeah. I was just giving him my stance on why the accuracy of the various equations breaks down, in some cases fairly quickly. Beyond that, there's a lot of missing information that makes assessing his problem a complete guess: was your technique the same on 385 relative to 365x5? Is 365x5 something you're always capable of, or were you just having a really good day? Do you typically train at 5 reps or higher, but rarely lower? Have you attempted 1RMs frequently, or is there a possibility that you simply freaked yourself out?

The gap between the two weights does seem awfully small, but seeing the reverse trend (being able to outpace your projected max by a very large margin) wouldn't shock me, so I try to keep it in perspective.


I don't train in the high rep range much, a typical bench day is working up to a a 2-5rm on a bench variation (all flat, various grips, fat bar)....the only high rep barbell bench i do is a cool down set, something typically in the 8-12 range with 315. The equation that I use is just the simple weight x reps x .0333 + weight. Pretty much positive my form remains constant on both lifts, mind you my form is pretty awful....but its the same awful on both


Sounds like you just need more practice with singles. I can sometimes get an extra 20 pounds on my max bench if I work my way up on heavy singles in prep, and I'm pretty spot on the calculated maxes.


Yes the bench is the same way for me. I have a theory: The bench is so temperamental on bodyweight and water retention that it could be based on the day that you're doing it. The night before bench days I always load up on a huge meal of carbs/salt. Either all you can eat sushi (50-60 pieces) or a huge dish of cheese ravioli with marinara sauce (the high sodium kind). I think this concept has more to do with the heavier weights.

The lighter weights are usually what they are, but as the weight increases I think if you're just a bit off in bodyweight or water retention that day you will feel it. The bench is more moody than a PMSing 17 year old girl. I've done 315x10, and 380x5 330x5x5 and 225x30 loaded on sodium! Just my two cents.


I think there are a couple factors that make different than squatting or pulling. First, there is only bar weight on benching. Squatting, the muscles are actually lifting the bar weight AND most of your body. So, if your bench 315 for 3, your muscle lifted 315 3 times. If you squat 315 for 3, you really lifted maybe 500 for 3.

Now if you go up to a single and add 25 pounds up to 340, the scenarios are different. Benching you just went from 315 to 340, but squatting you really went from 500 to 525. Those are not at all equivalent.

The other issue is fiber types for muscle groups are VERY different.


I really think this is part of the self- fulfilling mythos powerlifters have built up around the bench. I think the bench is more mental than the other two, and when you out ideas like this out there people end up psyching themselves out and defeating themselves before they even start.

I just benched 450, a 10-lb PR gym or meet, at a meet where I water cut and ate low sodium the day previous. I weighed 5 pounds under my normal bodyweight on the I morning of, and I had a normal meal after weigh ins. None of that made me feel intimidated at any point because I strongly believe it's all bullshit. Train and prep properly, go out and be confident, and you'll be fine.


Good point on bodyweight issues.

Interesting thought on fiber type. I would think the predominance of type-II fibers in the arms would make a person worse at reps and better at maximal strength, though.


For shits and giggles, i'm going to record a few benches today or tomorrow and throw up here....Let you guys destroy my form. I know I'm leaving a good amount on the bench just do to my lax setup