By Andy on November 11, 2015
A quick and effective way to discover your training weight to achieve your training goals faster!
Simply doing 10 or 20 reps of an exercise because you ‘feel’ like it or ‘because that’s what everyone does’, isn’t based on any specific science.
If you aren’t training at the correct intensity, then you aren’t training correctly, and you’re wasting precious time to get to your goals.
I personally use 2 methods to determine a client’s true resistance prescriptions. The first one is the ‘1RM test’ for intermediate to advanced individuals and the second is the ‘Multiple RM testing method’ for beginners or those who don’t push themselves to the max on a regular basis.
Knowing your actual weight prescriptions is much more personal and targeted to your own individual needs, rather than just doing what everyone else does.
1 RM Test
Just a few rules first:
- You won’t do this test with beginners or most females as you are asking the client to push themselves to their limit. There is always the risk of injury when pushing yourself to the limit. The second method is used for these individuals.
- This test is done with multi-jointed structures only. These include exercises where 2 or more joints are used like the knee and hips at the same time, or the elbow and shoulders at the same time. Single joint exercises produce very inaccurate results. So bench press and squats are good examples, a bicep curl’s testing won’t be accurate.
- The lower the amount of reps you complete, the more accurate the testing is. A high amount of reps also tests muscle endurance, which is a factor we don’t want to test here. We only want to test maximum strength, not strength endurance.
- You only have 4 goes at this. If you are taking 5 or more shots at this you may be incorporating strength endurance, we don’t want to test that here.
Okay let’s get started, we will use the bench press as an example here, the same protocol will be used for squats, leg press, and all other max strength tests.
- After a good 10 minute warm-up that includes shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hip dynamic warm-up movements – choose a bar and load it with a weight that you can complete about 8-12 reps with. This is your 1st build up set.
- Rest 3 minutes as the energy system you are using needs sufficient time to recover the force generated by the active muscles. In this case the chest, shoulders, arms, and core.
- Now here is where the action starts – this is your 2nd build up set. Load the bar up with additional weight where you can complete between 5-8 reps. Keep in mind that the best results that are the most accurate will be when you only complete 1-2 reps because the resistance is too heavy to do more reps than that. So don’t hold back too much on loading those weights.
- Now rest 5 minutes to give your active muscles a full recovery.
- Load additional weights onto the bar in order to score somewhere between 3-5 reps. This is now your 3rd try.
- Once again rest a good 5 -7 minutes in order for a full muscle recovery. Because it’s maximum effort after this! So rest well.
- This is your 4th and final go at this, so ensure you choose the heaviest weight that you can possibly lift.
- Write down the amount you have lifted in kg/lbs and how many reps you have completed. Use the following graph as a guideline. It represents your maximum ability. You need this number to calculate your training goal.
As an example – let’s say I managed just 1 rep of 85 kg in the bench press test. That means my max strength / 1 RM in the bench press is 85kg, and this is very accurate.
But my goal is to have an awesome looking beach body and you won’t get this by doing only max strength sessions. look at the 9th point.
9. Your training goal = if you are training for strength then focus on 1-6 reps per exercise (85% – 100 % of your max). If you are training for power mainly during sports activities then focus on 1-5 reps (87% – 100% of your max effort). For building muscle and just plain good looking beach bodies aim at 6-12 reps (67 % -85% of your max effort). Lastly, if you’re aiming for that lean and shredded look with not too much ‘bulk’, aim at anything above 12 reps ( 67% and lower). Be sure to base this on the 1 rep max weight you scored in your test above.
So let’s take me as an example again – my 100% of the bench press is 85 kg. To have an awesome looking beach body I need to train at 67 %- 85% of 85kg which is 57 kg – 73 kg for my bench press at 6-12 reps.
10. Do a retest every 6-8 weeks as your 1 RM score will change as your body adapts.
Next week we will be looking at the second test for beginners or those who don’t train close to maximum intensity on a regular basis.
Having trouble calculating your ideal training resistance weight? Let me know.