T Nation

Individual 1-rep Max

Something neat to pass on (and your thoughts, of course!)


An Exercise Physiologist recently told me that 1-rep max calculations and/or extrapolating various rep numbers to estimate the 1-rep max was “okay” but did not take into account the differences in individuals AND in the make-up in their individual muscles.


So…in their lab, over about a 2 week period, they simply add weight slowly to various core exercises until an individual reaches their actual 1-rep max for that exercise. (They spot, of course, and make sure that it is a safe and slow process). He states that this gives them a truer reflection of a person’s INDIVIDUAL 1-rep max.


Any thoughts?

Agreed. Calculations are very rough estimates and are ball park figures AT BEST. If you want a real 1 RM, than you need to do a real 1 RM. Of course, when doing 1 RM, care must be taken to prevent injury by avoiding bad form in attempt to increase poundage through “cheating”.

I think that’s right. Calculations are good for a ball park number, but if someone wants to know what their real 1RM is I think they should do a 1RM.

That is a problem. over a two week period other factors could come into play as well. I saw a machine that tracked force output when the linear speed was fixed. That speed could be adjusted. Too much worry, charts give you a ballpark to train around.

I failed to understand why you considered doing a 1 RM, a problem. Your 1 RM is never fixed anyway, and will always change with training stimulus and intensity. It can and will go in either direction depending on your current training program. But if you want to really know your 1 RM at that point to check training progress, than do a 1 RM. If you don’t really care, then don’t bother. But I don’t believe one should go around the gym proclaiming a 1 RM that they never actually acomplished.

While I don’t see a problem using chart to help periodize one’s training, I have to agree that a 1RM is how much weight you can lift for one full rep. If you’ve never done a 1RM, it will usually take a few attempts (work up to a 1RM test each week for a few weeks) before you can be sure you’ve hit the 1RM.

Doesn’t neural energy need about 3 days to recover? You could only do 3-4 tries at a 1RM at any exercise in one week. What about using a lower weight and then calculating the acceleration? Would that work?

Charts are ok but they don’t take into account things such as arousal level, neural stimulation, nervousness, increased focus etc. tha tend to occur when one goes for a TRUE 1rm. The one example of extreme strength you never hear many people talk about is the case of untrained people, such as women, under extraordinary circumstances able to lift cars or other heavy implements up off their children or whatever. No chart could ever predict that! What makes this possible? Increased epinephrine.

Can’t they measure muscle contraction potential using current? The difference between that and measured 1RM would be the neural factor.

One factor, probably as important as the ones mentioned by the exercise physiologist, is the training history. I for one have very rarely trained with sub 5 rep sets. I can bench 225 20 times but my 1 RM is only 315. Based on the rep-rep max curve at 60% of 1RM (225), I should do “about” 375 for a 1RM. On the other hand, my training partner can bench 400, but 225 15 times, based on his training the majority of the time with sub 8 rep sets.