Lifters who are in it for the long term know that fitness goals work best when you cycle between them. In other words, there's a time for chasing size, a time to cut down, and a time to add more plates to the bar. Switch between these phases, and they'll feed into one another.

That's what makes Jim Stoppani's programs on BodyFit so unique and valuable. Not only are "Shortcut to Size," "Shortcut to Shred," and "Shortcut to Strength," three of our most popular programs, they're also an ideal way to structure your lifting seasons. Do nothing but rotate between them, and you'll earn amazing results that only compound over time.

You can start "Shortcut to Size" or "Shortcut to Shred" today, with nothing other than a gym to train in. But with "Shortcut to Strength," there's a catch. You must know your one-rep max, or a close approximation of it, to calculate the percentages you'll need for every workout in this groundbreaking program.

Luckily for you, Jim himself has released a new guide on's YouTube channel showing how to test a 1RM on the squat. You can use it for his Jym Army's Countdown to Strength challenge, for "Shortcut to Strength," or for any other percentage-based program you want to follow!

Watch the video above in its entirety before testing your max. Then, take these crib notes with you to the gym.

How to Test Your 1RM

Step 1. Do a 5-10-minute general warm-up of cardio or calisthenics to raise internal body temperature, and do any lift-specific warm-ups or prehab that work for you.

Step 2. Perform a light set of 3-5 reps in your tested movement. This can be as little as the empty bar, or as heavy as a single 45-pound plate on each side.

Step 3. Wait 2-3 minutes, even if you don't feel like you need to. Add a plate of an appropriate size, and do 2-3 more reps. These should also be easy.

Step 4. Wait another 2-3 minutes, add another plate, and perform 1-2 reps. These should be harder, but manageable.

Step 5. Wait 5 minutes, then make a max attempt which you're pretty confident you can handle. Still, have a spotter close at hand. If the attempt goes smoothly, keep going to step six. If it's a hard grind, stop here and track that number.

Step 6. Wait another 5 minutes and make another attempt, slightly heavier than the last one. If you fail on this rep, wait 5 minutes, then try a final rep between the two previous weights.

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Now you have your number—and you have everything you need to thrive in some of the world's greatest strength programs. When a workout calls for 50, 70, 90, or more of your max, use's 1RM calculator page or app and be confident you're lifting what you should. You can even use that program to create an approximation of your 1RM based on higher rep maxes, like 2-3 reps.

This feels like a perfect time to go push that number up a few digits with "Shortcut to Strength," doesn't it?

About the Author

Contributing Writer’s authors consist of accredited coaches, doctors, dietitians and athletes across the world.

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