T Nation

Using RM for Self Help

Hey All,

I have been reading a lot recently about 1RM and how it is a good thing to know about yourself when you are training.

Recently I even found a table that outlines the relationship between 1RM and >1RM in that if I want to do more than 1RM the weight that I should use is expressed as a percentage of the weight I used for my 1RM.

2RM = 95% of 1RM
3RM = 93% of 1RM
4RM = 90% of 1RM
5RM = 87% of 1RM
6RM = 85% of 1RM
7RM = 83% of 1RM
8RM = 80% of 1RM
9RM = 77% of 1RM
10RM = 75% of 1RM …and so on

My question is, is this a reliable way to calculate how much weight I should be using when I am training in the gym? Obviously when trying to find the right weight to use there is a lot of trial and error involved but I was wondering if using a table like this can help get the answer without having to spend the time trying again and again?

Also, if I plan to be doing multiple sets in an exercise, would that factor into the percent of 1RM weight I should be using (assuming that I am giving enough time to rest in between)?


You can use charts like this as a guide (I find them to be fairly accurate). Though, how much weight YOU can lift for say 8 reps & how closely this correlates with your true 1RM will vary (at least a bit).

Experience, is ultimately the only thing that is going to show you for certain how to predict the difference between your for rep maxes & your true 1RM maxes.

Also, once you’ve been lifting for a while (providing you keep a log of all of your main maxes/for rep maxes/rep set maxes) you’ll no longer really need to think about this primarily in terms of percentages. You’ll simply be able to refer back to how much weight you lifted a few weeks ago/months ago & use THAT as a guide.

Really depends on your goals. I’ll never be a powerlifter, but I still train for strength, will never really know my 1RM and will never compete.

That formula is like the BMI… It’s general, not specific. The only real way to know is actually doing it.

If it’s really that important to you, take a look at the powerlifting and/or Olympic lifting thread. Those guys know more about specifics of what you might be looking for.


this? you need to forget this idea if you want to actually make progress.

yes, but you also won’t know what weight you can handle until you actually do it. too many variables (rest, diet, recovery, injuries, whatever’s going through your head at the moment) exist to make anything 100% predictable under the bar.

The “ratios” can be very lift specific. They are nowhere near as reliable as real life experience. Keep a training log instead. If you got 8 reps with 225 last time and have had some good sessions since then you know that the 7th rep will feel pretty heavy but you could get 9 or maybe even 10 reps. Much better than asking your calculator.

All competitive powerlifters know their true 1 RM and how to test it in gym conditions. And many training programs are based on a 1 RM. But I don’t think it’s that important (or even necessarily relevant) for beginners to know their true 1 RM. Like everyone has said, keep a log and focus on progress. And take 1 RM calculators with a grain of salt. They way underestimate my squat/DL max and overestimate my bench.