T Nation

Rep Strength vs 1 Rep Max Strength

Hey so brand new to the threads here and have a question to see if this is a common problem or just my physiology. So I am doing 5\3\1 and have been for about 20 months, and the other day I got 180 lbs for 12 reps with 1 left in the tank but when I try to go heavy I struggle with 225 lbs.

Is anyone else able to rep out a considerable amount more than there 1 rep max? Also I feel like I have been losing strength lately my squat and bench have taken huge hits and I am already considerably weak for my weight of 230, the funny thing is im not even fat just a little extra cushioning.

Any insights are much appreciated.

If all you do is higher rep stuff, then you will have stronger rep strength than 1RM strength. Its also possible you were tired from having repped out 180 for 12.

20 months? Wow! I have have also been doing 5/3/1 but for less time. I have noticed that my rep maxes don’t always correlate with my 1RM strength (based off of rep calculators), but as my rep maxes increase overtime, so does my 1RM strength. I never practice singles though, so if that’s your goal, I’d plan for more singles.

That is the thing with 5\3\1 I have been doing a lot of heavy lifting, I know I am tired a lot being a night shift nurse and I need to deload. I am thinking about switching it up and doing smolov Jr since bench is my weakest lift.

Also my two bench examples were a few weeks apart.

If you’ve been running 5/3/1 for 20 months and can barely bench your bodyweight you probably have some serious form issues that need to be addressed.

[quote]tylerkeen42 wrote:
If you’ve been running 5/3/1 for 20 months and can barely bench your bodyweight you probably have some serious form issues that need to be addressed.[/quote]

Have to agree, efficiency of force transfer is key when things get heavy. I find people can often rep pretty well with crappy form, but once that weight gets heavy and accentuates form deficiencies, they get even farther out of their groove and are probably pushing from a very sub optimal position.

You guys are probably right on the form issue, perhaps I will take a video of me benching and post it. well in that case will running smolov jr. help with the form or can you guys recommend a good benching form video?

I can usually hit singles for a lot more than I should be able to based on max reps with a given weight. A lot of it is my CNS adaptation being superior to my muscular endurance. Unless you’re a giant, being unable to bench your BW usually means one of two things, 1) you’re weaker than you’re willing to admit or 2) you’re fatter than you are willing to admit.

Well while I am a little chubby I only have a 36 inch waist so I don’t think it is so much I am fat, but I will admit I am really weak and to be completely honest I have not been able to gain any strength on my bench for about 4 years.

Not sure if this plays into it either but I was a long distance swimmer for most of my life till I was 19 (I am now 26) I only started lifting at 20 and not seriously till I was 22/23.

In my experience, specificity matters enormously when going heavy (5RM and especially lower). I simply must train heavier to be better at going heavier; I could never back-door into a heavier single even if my rep-outs (at 8+ reps) improved. Same was true–for me-- even for chinnups. As my BW chins improved my loaded chinnups did not.

The reverse is not true for me. That is, as my low rep ranges increase I’m usually able to rep out better (assuming the higher rep range is under 12 reps).

Thus, the greater my 1RM the better were my higher rep ranges (if below 12 reps).

My guess here is that the skill requirements and neural components are much bigger players at low rep ranges and thus need be trained for as per that specificity. And there my be a psychological component too at the heaviest loads.

Of course, all this may vary across a population of lifters, as per any bell curve. But many I know personally experience the same thing.

Recently, I have learned the incredible advantages of programming based almost wholly on Singles (for the main lifts) by using a Mark Chaillet approach to singles training (as described by Marty Gallagher) This has pushed my higher reps (when I test them) but I could care less about higher rep performance.

[quote]RNLifter88 wrote:
You guys are probably right on the form issue, perhaps I will take a video of me benching and post it. well in that case will running smolov jr. help with the form or can you guys recommend a good benching form video?[/quote]

I would stick with what you are doing, no need for drastic changes.

Here’s a good vid.

Thanks for the video BacktotheBar it was very helpful in explaining all the components I will try setting up like that and using it in a few days when I am back in the gym. Also, thank you Roygoi that explanation made a great deal of sense and while I do not believe I am advanced enough where singles alone will be the most helpful I do believe upping the weight and going for more sets with fewer reps will be helpful both physiologically and psychologically.