Testing 1 Repetition Maximum (1RM)
Finding Your Strength Level

Before beginning any strength training program, you must first know your current strength level by testing yourself on various lifts.  This can be accomplished by doing a 1 repetition max-out or by doing an estimated 1 repetition max-out.

1 Repetition Maximum - How much weight can you lift 1 time. 

  1. To do a 1RM, you first do a light warm-up (light weight, about 60% of your previous 1RM) of 10 repetitions

  2. Then do a moderate warm-up (moderate weight, about 75% of your previous 1RM) of 6-8 repetitions.

  3. Then you do a heavy warm-up (heavy weight, about 90% of your previous 1RM) of 2-4 repetitions.

  4. If you feel you are properly warmed-up, you then select a weight that you can only do 1-2 times.

  5. You should lift this weight only 1 repetition.  (If you fail to lift this weight, go down 10-15 pounds and try again)

  6. If you were able to lift that weight, then you would add 10 pounds to the bar, wait 3 minutes, then lift the new weight again.

  7. If you were able to lift the new weight, then you repeat step 6 again, until you can not successfully lift the weight (total failure).

  8. The last successful, completed repetition, with no assistance from a spotter, is your 1 repetition maximum. (1RM)

Advantages of doing an actual 1 repetition maximum
    1. It is a true maximum test of your strength level on that given lift.
    2. It gives the lifter a feeling of accomplishment.
    3. If it is completed properly, it is the most accurate method of testing.

Disadvantages of doing a actual 1 repetition maximum
    1. It takes a lot longer time to finally get to the 1RM set.
    2. Handling the high weight on a actual 1RM can be dangerous to the lifter and/or the spotter.
    3. You could injure yourself because of the high weight being lifted.
    4. There is a lot of stress on the muscles at work.
    5. An estimate of how strong you are is all you need to set up a good workout.

Estimated 1 Repetition Maximum 
An estimated amount of how much weight can you lift 1 time. 

Several College and University lifting programs have come up with a formula for estimating one's maximum strength, based on the amount of weight lifted and the number of repetition achieved during a particular set.  The first person that I am aware of doing this procedure was Boyd Epley at the University of Nebraska.  He has been estimating 1RM's since the middle 1980's.  Here is how you do and estimated 1RM.

  1. Do 1 set of 10-12 repetitions at a light weight selection (light warm-up). 

  2. Do 1 set of 8–10 repetitions at a moderate weight selection (moderate warm-up). 

  3. Then Choose a weight that you know that you can not lift more than 10 to 15 repetitions, then lift that weight as many times as possible, working until total fatigue.  For a bit more accuracy, choose a weight that you can not lift more than 8 to 10 repetitions.

  4. To locate your estimated one repetitions maximum, use the chart labeled “Find your strength level", or click on this link to fill in your weight and the number of repetitions you completed to locate the estimated one repetition Max-out. 

To download the Estimated Max-out Form
Click on link below.
Fitness Max-Out form (PDF file)
To download the chart to print out find your Estimated 1RM
Click on the link below.
Estimated Max chart (PDF file)

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   To find your estimated 1RM on-line:
Click here to impute your max-out numbers to find your Estimated 1RM.

For a more accurate estimated 1RM
Choose a weight that will cause you to fail between the 6th repetition and the 10th repetition.  
It is my belief
that once the lifter goes over 6 repetition, he/she is no longer testing 
strength & power, they are now testing strength & endurance.
NOTE: Pre-Adolescent/Adolescent and Beginning/Inexperienced lifters
should do the higher estimated 1RM repetition (8 to 12 reps to failure)
to avoid the possibility of injury to their muscles, bones, and/or tendons. 

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