I can usually tell how new somebody is to weight training by how obsessed they are with their 1 rep max.
This is actually counterproductive in 2 ways
#1 Newbies to weight training don’t even have enough command over their muscles to efficiently handle heavy weights for 1 rep max attempts.
Your nervous system has to get used to weight training over a period of time so that it can learn how to activate the maximum amount of muscle fibers necessary for a single rep attempt.
#2 Even if your body can activate the number of muscle fibers necessary for a max effort attempt, it is incredibly taxing on your nervous system which means your body will need longer recovery times between workouts.
In short, constantly testing your 1 rep max is extremely counterproductive.
If you must know your 1 rep max for some reason, their and better ways to determine your overall strength.
Reasons to Assess your 1 Rep Max
Once you are no longer a novice lifter and you get to the intermediate level (you are a novice until you have completed a linear progression program such as Starting Strength or Stonglifts and you can no longer add weight to the bar) then more specialized training will be needed in order for you to still make progress.
The best training technique for intermediate lifters is called periodization.
Periodization is just a fancy way of saying that you add weight to the bar by utilizing weekly or monthly lifting cycles instead of trying to add weight to the bar every workout.
This method is great because it gives your body more time for recovery so you don’t feel run down all the time.
Most periodized programs involve working with different percentages of your 1 rep max each week for every lift that you perform.
In order to know how much weight you need to lift for an exercise on a given week, you will need to calculate your 1 rep max to get a baseline of where you are at.
The Best Way to Calculate your 1 Rep Max
Instead of loading the bar up with an extreme amount of weight that will be difficult to handle, I highly recommend using a safer approach.
I prefer to pick a medium intensity weight and see how many reps I can get with it for one balls out set.
For example, if you can squat around 250 pounds for reps but your form is a little shakey, drop the weight down to 225 pounds and see how many reps you can get with good form.
Once you have your number, go ahead and visit this site and plug in the necessary information.
You will now have an accurate idea of what your true 1 rep max is on a given lift without all of the risks of using a weight you can barely handle.
(Bonus) Here is a Great Program for Intermediate lifters
I have used the Wendler 5/3/1 program for a while now and I absolutely love it.
The program keeps everything simple by taking all the thinking out of lifting which will allow you to focus on what is truly important, setting new personal records for every lift each training cycle.
If you need help keeping track of your lifts then you can even download the 5/3/1 app for your phone and have everything calculated for you.
Knowing your 1 rep max can and will be necessary when you enter the realm of the intermediate lifter.
Instead of risking your health by lifting an ultra heavy-weight, use the methods discussed above to find out what your 1 rep max is.
Train smart and stay safe!
From the Man Himself –