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When Do You Test Openers?

I’m working on a 12-week meet prep cycle that will start in a few weeks after my next meet. I want to hear from others: when do you test openers / heavy singles in general during your training? I trained at a gym where they ran a conjugate system year-round, tested openers for all 3 lifts at 2 weeks out and that was it. Contrastly, my coach for my current meet had me hit my opener several times, my projected second once or twice, and even a PR “test” day at various points from 7-2 weeks out. What do you do?

Previously we’ve done 5 weeks out test 3 rep max. Calculate 100% from there. Then usually openers are 88-92% of that number depending speed and how you feel over the next 3 weeks working up to your 100 or 102.5% depending on feel that last session. Then a week off, then compete.

This time we’re training into the meet since that’s usually when everyone feels their best.

We’ve tried a few other approaches so we’ll see how this works. I like the above where you determine a 100% a few weeks before, then you hit various %s over the next few weeks then depending on how everything felt you hit up 88-92% for opener 92-96% for 2nd then 98-102.5 for third. Making adjustments on meet day as needed.

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I usually test heavy singles for two weeks straight - usually 5 and 4 weeks out. I would agree with Corstijeir and open up at or a little heavier than your 3RM and then just base the next two on how the weight is moving. It’s always good to open light since the equipment and atmosphere are different and get used to the changes.

I’ve had my best results having regularly hit openers and seconds eight weeks out and onwards, then in the last three weeks come close to my thirds (last heavy DL two weeks out, squat about 10 days, bench 5-7 days).

Generally I like to know I can hit my seconds without fail by six weeks out. I know that means I’m probably very, very conservative with my seconds and thirds but I’m of the opinion that it’s better to go 9/9 and know you could’ve put another 10 lbs on your thirds than go 6/9 and miss your target total by 50+ lbs.


I take the goal of what I want to hit at the meet, and then subtract 40 pounds from that. I’ll work up to my planned openers two weeks before the meet, and if they move good I’ll keep them then deload week of. If the planned openers feel too heavy to be a feasible opener I’ll drop it ten pounds.

I think I’m with you on this Mark. My current cycle has gone great and I feel very secure in my openers and seconds for all three lifts. I was able to move up my bench opener and 2nd by 10 lbs each because this cycle went so well. Don’t think I’d have had the foreknowlege to do that if i was only hitting openers at 2 weeks out, for example. Thanks for the great replies everyone.