T Nation

How Often Should Newbies Attemp PRs?


I workout alone, so the only exercise I attemp 1 rep max in is on deadlifts. I've been pretty steady week to week attepting to beat prior PR every week up until recently. My thoughts are to deload and work in a higher rep range and attempt a new PR in a couple of weeks. My question is....when the weights start to get heavier it is wiser to only go for 1 rep PR ever other week? What is the smarter way to train? I know DL's are very taxing on CNS, so would it be better to train for reps one week and then try for 1 rep max the next week? My overall goal is gaining size. But I do enjoy DLing and would love to bring my pulling up another 50 lbs. Any advise from the experienced members is most appreciated !


if i were a newbie... i'd follow a program like 5x5 that has weight increases every session. until i wasn't able to do that anymore. at which point i'd move to a different program.

do you have a squat rack with safeties? or a couple sawhorses or something like that? why can't you max your squat? i've seen people (though i've never tried it myself, admittedly, use squat rack safeties in order for them to max bench by themself, too...


Agreed. I went with 5x5 until I hit my wall and then switched to 5/3/1 where 3 out of the 4 weeks you're training 5+, 3+, or 1+ rep maxes. If you can't find a spot or engineer one I wouldn't do a 100% max. As far as how often with a spot, I'm no expert or anything, but I would say whenever you feel like it.


Every session


This true?

I admit I've been very stressed at work with meeting deadlines and have had alot of distrations at home the last 3 weeks. I didn't feel too focused when I missed the last pull. Should I keep trying PR's once a week or switch it up a bit to see what works better for me? I assume nothing is carved in stone and everybody has their own preference and get results with different methods of training.


Every Thursday, I work up to a 1RM on bench press, squat, and deadlift. It's my favorite day of the week and as long as my Wednesday workout isn't too intensive I've been seeing a 5lb increase in each of these lifts every week for the past 5-6 weeks. I think I'm able to get away with this because I have smaller muscles that take less time to recover fully (although handle less volume), and I make sure to eat my veggies :p.

Spotters aren't a problem because the bench press at my gym has a really low rack for the bar in case of failure, the smith machine I squat at (nothing else unfortunately, but at least I put feet in the traditional position) can be racked with a flick of the wrists, and deadlifts are only unsafe if I'm unreasonable with the weight.


by prs, do you mean a new all-out 1 rep max which is 10kg heavier than last time? or adding 2kgs or an extra couple of reps? the latter has to happen every time


Testing your 1rm is not necessary. Ever.

Unless you are training for a powerlifting meet, and even then, it's not necessary all that often.

Stick to triples and measure your progress that way. Although I dont see a need to go that low in reps unless youre doing it as a part of a structured strength progrm.


And you should attempt to set PRs every single time youre in the gym. That doesnt mean you do that by attempting 1rm's. Not sure why you think the two coincide.


Sorry I wasn't too clear about that. I was trying for a new 1 rep max on DL's every week (yes it was killing me). I get it now!

Thanks, Caveman


My goal is gaining mass. So triples is as low as I need to go. Thanks God! Been killing myself the last 2 weeks.

Thanks Bonez for setting me straight and helping a foolish newb.


SS, 5x5, 5/3/1 = your best friend.

With programs like SS and 5x5 you'll eventually start hitting PR's at every workout.


3 reps is likely going to be useless for bodybuilding, and 1 rep is useless for just about anybody.

If your main goal is to get big my advice is to get stronger in an 8-12 rep range on the big stuff, and 12-15 on the little stuff. You shouldn't have to go lower than 6 reps (almost never), and that's if you even want to go heavy like that sometimes.


I prefer doing 3 rep maxes instead of 1 rep maxes. I train at home, by myself, so I know that I'll be able to get at least one rep, and most of the time I'll be able to tell if I have all 3 in me or not.


You can work in the 3-8 rep range with success. You just have to compensate for the lower volume in that particular lift in other ways...

But... Just because your top sets are 3-5 reps, doesn't mean you have to be lifting with lower volume.

There isn't one way to skin the cat.


Yes of course it is POSSIBLE to train that way, the question is WHY would you want to?

Why bother "compensating" and messing around with "volume" just to use 3-5 reps? Bodybuilding uses a traditional rep range of 8-12, and it's traditional for a reason.


Because they enjoy it? Or it feels right? Or they see results that way?

IDK, but I can think of a few reasons...

Look I know as well as anyone there is quite a bit of BB'ing dogma out there, I also know not to do something JUST because it's traditional.

I've seen guys with massive shoulders pound away on the smith with a quarter on each side... I've also seen dudes with a massive chest (for his body) do 3 sets of triples with 365...

I'm coming to the conclusion you can make pretty much anything work if you think outside the box a little.

Should everyone work in the 3-5 rep range? Nope, but if you want to, you can make it work.


I don't think there's no reason to box yourself into any sort of rep range or dogma until you've reached a point where your goal is very focused towards either limit strength or growth ie. when you've been training for 5+ years. Even at that point the shift will not necessarily rule one into a specific rep range as guys at westside will use higher rep ranges for there assistance and guys like Kai Greene, Ronnie will periodically hit low reps in movements seeking new growth. Some bodybuilders even try to control this thinking that it's the key to hypertrophy along with regular methods (Layne Norton and his crew).

like Beans said, follow RESULTS not some arbitrary rule (within reason).


Have I ever trained in a low rep range? Yeah, and I'm sure at some point I will again. You do whatever works, but my point is you don't need to recommend to rank beginners that they use some alternative training style when they will probably have the greatest success just training NORMALLY.

I don't believe a newbie should start by lifting for heavy sets of 3-5 reps before they ever get a handle on form or feeling the muscle.

I think a lot of guys these days get sucked into the modern notion that powerlifting is superior, and they lower their reps thinking weight on the bar is everything, but in bodybuilding it isn't. After a certain point, the lower your reps go the less total muscle fiber you're actually going to be fatiguing... can intermediate and advanced bodybuilders do this with success? Sure. But the guys that start out low and never work hard over 5 repetitions never seem to have very impressive physiques. Not to mention you're putting yourself at a greater risk of injury, and for what?

The impression I get from this website is that 8-12 reps just isn't "cool" right now.


absolutely, I think if you neglect any rep range you're missing out.

at a low experience level I think you should absolutely use lighter relative weights on multi joint exercises like the squat and deadlift until a certain amount of coordination has developed.

a good program should involve a variety of rep ranges including mid-high, and a relative beginner should stick to weights he/she can control well anyways