T Nation

Lifting Question


I read through the Big Boy Basics program as a starter program and it seems great. I plan to start on it on Monday.

However, I am unsure about 2 things in the program. I read through all the replies, and no one seemed to be confused by it. Maybe it's because I'm rather "newbish"


Exercise: Barbell Bench Press

Sets: 8

Reps: 3

Rest: 60 seconds between sets

Load: 5RM (repetition maximum)

Tips: 24" hand spacing

What does 5RM (repetition maximum) mean?

Alternatively, what does 10RM (repetition maximum) mean?

I just want to make sure I get onto this program and do it right... I've spent a year doing the wrong thing the wrong way, and really want to make a better go about it this time.

Thanks again, in advance.



RM means repetition maximum, as in the highest weight you could use, and still get five reps. So basically he's telling you to pick a weight you know you could do five reps with (but not six) and only do three reps.

If you're new to lifting you may not know what your 5RM is for the given exercise. Pick a reasonably heavy weight and do reps until you can't do any more (make sure to use a spotter or power cage for safety).


A 5RM means a weight that you can handle for only five repetitions and would fail unsucessfully on six.


The best way to figure this out would be by simple trial and error during the program, or should I figure all this out prior to the program?


The best way would be to determine your 5/10RM before the program. Take a day when you're well-rested (i.e. 1 or 2 days of rest since last workout) and ready to lift. (i.e. not currently hung-over)

Warm-up as normal, and then start lifting progressively heavier weights until you can't get to 6 reps. Make sure to get a good rest in-between sets, around 3 minutes or so between sets should allow you to recover fully. Keep in mind, it's not really important to get this exact, programs that specify a 5RM weight are really just going for a rough rule-of-thumb, so don't go nuts trying to determine if your 5RM is 145 pounds or 147.5 pounds.

It's a good idea to log what your various maxes are and then re-test yourself every couple of months. That way you can tell if you've actually made any strength gains.


Now if you get to 5RM or 10RM and you complete 5 or 10 and can keep going the weight is too light, bring it up. If the idea in a program like that is to hit failure at 5, its better to fail at 4 than to complete 6. The concept in a program like that is to make yourself fail. Because in failure, is where we make progress.