How To Perform Rep Max Strength Testing

Rep Max Strength Testing The Prehab Guys

How To Perform Rep Max Strength Testing

The time has come! Youโ€™re ready to get back into the gym and fine-tune your program. Whether it was an access issue, an injury, or you simply slacked off, you need to re-establish your baseline strength to make SMARTย goals. Before you decide to crush your entire body with One-Rep-Max (1RM) strength testing that keeps you out of the gym for a few days and struggling to get out of bed, letโ€™s consider the alternative options you have! In this article, youโ€™ll learn how to perform rep max strength testing guidelines, and which type of strength testing assessment is best suited to help you meet your fitness goals.

 

Why Rep Max Strength Testing?

When you hear the words one rep max strength testing, you may subconsciously think of the time youโ€™ve lifted the heaviest weight in your life, or maybe you picture “The Mountain” from the show Game of Thrones breaking deadlift world records with ease. Max effort, max weight, there is something about it that is so intriguing. It grabs your attention, it grabs the attention of others, and it brings out the competitiveness in you. However, with that being said, we need to discuss who should and who shouldnโ€™t perform one rep max strength testing.

 

What Is The Purpose Of 1RM Strength Testing?

Before deciding who should and who shouldnโ€™t perform one rep max strength testing, letโ€™s review the purpose behind this type of testing. 1RM strength testing is rooted in periodized exercise prescription and resistance training. Periodization is pre-planned, systematic variations in training specificity, intensity, and volume organized in periods or cycles with an overall program.ยฒ Periodized programming includes:

  • Needs analysis & training goals

 

  • Outcome measures

 

  • Training Cycles that include time frames and goals for each cycle

 

  • Training Protocol that includes exercise selection and training variables

 

sample periodized program for rep max strength testing the prehab guys

Adopted from NSCA 3rd edition

 

Periodized programming was designed with athletes in mind. Based on the sport and time of year relative to the competition season, programming goals will be different along with the exercise selection and exercise variables, specifically exercise intensity and volume. But, as we mentioned earlier, we cannot forget about the outcome measures used in periodized programs. You cannot have an outcome measure without a baseline measure. More importantly, you cannot prescribe exercise intensity without baseline measures. This is where 1RM strength testing comes into play! Along with other functional performance assessments, 1RM strength testing is designed to provide a baseline measure of strength with a given exercise. So for example, based on an athleteโ€™s 1RM strength measure with the back squat, a strength coach is able to design a periodized program that will improve the athleteโ€™s back squat strength, which can yield performance gains with athletic movements such as sprinting and jumping!

LISTEN: OLYMPIC WEIGHTLIGHTING & ONLINE PROGRAMMING WITH CALIFORNIA STRENGTHย olympic weightlifting online programming podcast how to perform rep max strength training programs the prehab guys

 

Who Should & Who Shouldnโ€™t Perform 1RM Strength Testing?

Now that we understand why you would perform 1RM strength testing, let’s determine who is best suited for this kind of strength testing. As we mentioned earlier, periodized programming was designed with athletes in mind, and 1RM strength testing is no different. However, that doesnโ€™t mean you canโ€™t perform 1RM strength testing if you donโ€™t play traditional sports. The definition of an athlete has expanded, there are now strength athletes, strongman athletes, powerlifters, and many other athletes that step onto a different kind of field โ€“ a weight room or a lifting platform. 1RM strength testing is going to be the best-suited outcome measure for these types of athletes as this is their ultimate performance measure!

There are other athletes too including your weekend warriors, club sports, recreation leagues, and many more. In our book, youโ€™re an athlete if you compete with yourself on a daily basis to bring the best out of yourself! However, we can continue to learn from periodized programming to make the smartest training decisions for ourselves. The first and most essential component of a periodized exercise program is a needs analysis. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it that youโ€™re training for?

 

  • What do you need in order to perform well?

 

  • What do you need to expose your body to in order for it to adapt and improve?

 

If you donโ€™t have to perform a max effort heavy lift, then 1RM strength testing may not be best suited for you. As clinicians, we are constantly weighing the benefits vs. the risks when it comes to decision making and exercise prescription. There is more risk with 1RM strength testing compared to alternative rep max strength testing. [P]Rehab is about making smart training decisions and understanding what your body needs to be exposed to. If youโ€™re not required to perform a 1RM effort in the future, why bother exposing your body to that and assuming the risks that come with it?

READ: FUNDAMENTAL LOWER BODY EXERCISES
fundamental lower body exercises how to perform rep max strength training programsthe prehab guys

 

What Other Rep Max Strength Assessments Are There?

There are indirect methods for calculating your 1RM with any exercise, and honestly, this method tends to be safer and more feasible for a lot of exercises. Your traditional weightlifting exercises with a barbell are easier to do 1RM strength testing with, but you need a safe set up and would benefit from having a partner there with you. Whereas with indirect methods, like the 10 Rep Max (10RM) Method, you donโ€™t need a partner and you can use this method with almost any exercise you can imagine!

How To Perform The 10 Rep Max Strength Testing Method

In our opinion, the 10RM method is a safer and more feasible rep max strength assessment for the average person and athlete! Be sure to tune into the entire video above as Craig takes Mike through the 10RM method with the barbell back squat! Below you will find the extensive instructions outlined for you.

10RM Method – used to estimate the 1RM from 10 maximal effort repetitionsยฒ

Warm-up

  1. Equipment Familiarization โ€“ 10 reps @ light load or no weight
  2. 10 reps @ ~50% of perceived 10RM
  3. 1-minute rest then 5 reps @ ~75% of perceived 10RM

10RM Attempts

  1. Start at or below perceived 10RM
  2. Instruct the participant to do 11 reps
  3. If 11 reps are performed, then a 2 min rest is taken, and a conservative increase in weight is made before making another attempt.
    1. 5-15 lb. increase for upper body
    2. 15-25 lb. increase for lower body
  4. If less than 10 reps are performed, then a 2 min rest is taken, and a conservative decrease in weight is made before making another attempt
      1. 5-15 lb. decrease for upper body
      2. 15-25 lb. decrease for lower body
  5. The final 10RM value is the last successful lift and should be found within 3-5 maximal efforts
  6. To estimate 1RM from the 10RM value, use the following formulas:
    1. Estimated 1RM = 10RM / 0.75
    2. 10RM X 1.33 = Estimated 1RM

Master the Back Squat [P]Rehab Programmaster the back squat program the prehab guys

The Master The Back Squat [P]Rehab Program is designed to improve your barbell back squat performance! This is a great program for the average gym-goer and fitness enthusiast who is looking for a simple, easy to follow resource to enhance their back squat capacity. We have coupled barbell back squat programming with what we believe to be the most optimal full-body accessory strength and stability exercises, which can help to identify and improve any weak links in your body that could hinder your back squat performance! Learn more HERE

 

How To Perform The Formula Method Rep Max Strength Testing

Another indirect method to estimate your 1RM is to use the Formula rep max strength assessment method, which is outlined below

Formula Method – used to estimate the 1RM from 8-12 maximal effort repetitionsยฒโ€š ยณ

Warm-up

  1. Equipment Familiarization โ€“ 10 reps @ light load or no weight
  2. 10 reps @ ~50% of perceived 10RM
  3. 1-minute rest then 5 reps @ ~75% of perceived 10RM

RM Attempts

  1. Start at or slightly greater than perceived 10RM
  2. Instruct the participant to do at least 8 reps, but not more than 13 reps
  3. If 13 reps are performed, then a 2 min rest is taken, and a conservative increase in weight is made before making another attempt.
    1. 5-15 lb. increase for upper body
    2. 15-25 lb. increase for lower body
  4. If less than 8 reps are performed, then a 2 min rest is taken, and a conservative decrease in weight is made before making another attempt
    1. 5-15 lb. decrease for upper body
    2. 15-25 lb. decrease for lower body
  5. The final RM value is the last successful lift between 8-12 reps and should be found within 3-5 maximal efforts
  6. To estimate 1RM from the multiple RM value, use the following formula (3):
    1. 1RM = (weight lifted x # of reps x 0.03) + the weight lifted

 

Rep Max Strength Testing Closing Thoughts

โ€œYou canโ€™t manage what you donโ€™t measure.โ€ As physical therapists and certified strength & conditioning specialists, we take pride in using outcome measures to help us make better-informed decisions. As an athlete, you need to perform a personal needs analysis in order to write a better suited customized program. In order to write your program, you need to perform outcome measures so that you establish a baseline, which you can compare to during and after you complete your program. If muscular strength is one of your goals based on your needs analysis, determine which rep max strength assessment provides the most benefit with the least amount of risk, and get assessing!

 

References

  1. Bovend’Eerdt, T., Botell, R. and Wade, D., 2009. Writing SMART rehabilitation goals and achieving goal attainment scaling: a practical guide. Clinical Rehabilitation, 23(4), pp.352-361.
  2. Baechle, T. R., & Earle, R. W. (2008).ย Essentials of strength training and conditioning.ย 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  3. ย National Strength and Conditioning Association.ย Exercise Technique Manual for Resistance Training. 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kineticcs (2016).
  4. Oโ€™Connor, B., Simmons, J., & Oโ€™Shea, P. Weight Training Today. St Paul, MN: West Publishers, 1989.

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