The One Repetition Max

In exercise and training the One Repetition Max (1RM) is a highly used tool for optimal training benefits. Within Strength & Conditioning all resistance-training programmes will be based upon percentages of 1RM.
The National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA) & and the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) indicate that to train within specific training zones i.e. Maximal Strength, Explosive Power, Muscular Endurance or Hypertrophy, there is the necessity to used a specific percentage of 1RM.

What is 1RM?

It is defined as the optimal load an individual is able to move within a given direction for only one repetition. The exerciser should not be able to move the selected load for a second repetition, providing an indication of optimal force production and maximal strength.

Why is it important?

The 1RM is often used as an indicator to establish load settings for most exercise programmes providing a true reference of load selection to achieve specific goals. Having these results allows the exerciser to assess their progress efficiently, looking into the efficacy of the programme design and additionally providing a method of assessment. Having an understanding of an individual 1RM can allow a trainer to have a greater understanding of :

  • The load to be used to train a specific physiological quality (e.g. Maximal Strength, Explosive Power, Muscular Endurance or Hypertrophy)
  • The individual values in relation to specific norms. For example, to have significant leg strength it is suggested that a person must be able to press 2.2 times their body weight, therefore this data provides clear indications of necessary areas of improvement.

How to conduct a 1RM test?

It is essential that when performing a 1RM test that you always have a ‘Spotter’ a training partner or coach to aid in the process, this will cater for prevention in injury if failure were to occur.
Following this an appropriate warm up is necessary, ideally a lighter load with moderate repetitions (10-12) and gradual incremental progress with load until reaching the 1RM.
Rest period between sets, are also essential. For optimal force production it is vital to ensure that all muscle groups that are involved are fully rested therefore as the load increases rest period must correlatively increase also (2-5 minutes).

With careful, innovative thinking Technogym have developed a method in predicting 1RM for many supplementary exercises though the assessment of three main compound movements, Leg Press , Chest press  and Reverse grip Lat Pull Down using a maximal repetition method of testing. With this, Technogym clients are able to experience real specificity across all aspects of their training.

The necessary process is as followed:

  1. Select a compound exercise; perform a warm up set with a load allowing 5-10 repetitions.
  2. One minute rest
  3.  Increase load by 5-10% looking to perform 3-5 repetitions
  4. Two  minute rest
  5. Estimate a near-maximal load that will allow the completion of 2-3 repetitions (5-10% increase from step 3)
  6. Two – Four Minute Rest
  7.  Instruct participant to perform 1RM attempt (aiming for 2 repetitions every set) increasing weight by 5-10% depending on capability.
  8. 3-5 minute rest between attempts
  9.  Increase or decrease weight by 5-10% until able to achieve a true indication of 1RM.

Considering this structure it is highly recommended to ensure you are full rested, prior to testing, avoiding the likelihood of D.O.M.S deriving from strenuous exercise executed a few days  prior to testing, ensuring optimal performance.