Training Tips: The One Rep Max!

Nick Nilsson's quick tips will help you understand and find your one rep max.

The One Rep Max
What it is, how to find yours and how to use it in your training.

The One Rep Max (1 RM) is the ultimate test of strength. It is the maximum amount of weight you can lift on a given exercise for one rep.

  • Many programs list their weights to be used as a percentage of 1 RM, e.g. do a set of 8 reps on bench with 80% of your 1 RM. If your 1 RM on the bench is 200 pounds, you will do a set of 8 reps with 160 pounds.
  • Another common measure is the Ten Rep Max or 10 RM. This is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for ten reps.
  • One Rep Maxes should be slow. You can judge how close you are to your 1RM by the speed of your warm-up sets.

Any exercise can be done for a 1 RM but some exercises are better suited to the 1RM. These include:

Bench press Squats Military press
Deadlifts Barbell curls Power cleans
  • In order to improve your 1 RM, you must train close to that rep range. In other words, practice. If you are consistently training in higher rep ranges, you are using a different recruitment pattern. Combination training is also good. This means medium weight with high velocity to work the explosive muscle fibers and heavy weight with low velocity to work the regular fast-twitch fibers.

  • For some exercises, the technique for a good 1 RM is different than the technique is for regular multi-rep sets. This is obvious in powerlifting where the goal is to lift as much weight as possible. A powerlifting squat is different than a bodybuilding squat. In the powerlifting squat, the bar is held lower on the back and the lifter leans over a lot more.


Calculate Your One-Rep Max (1RM)

Weight Lifted
Reps Done

= One-Rep Max

95% 1 RM
90% 1 RM
85% 1 RM
80% 1 RM
75% 1 RM
70% 1 RM
65% 1 RM
60% 1 RM
55% 1 RM
50% 1 RM


Enter the amount of weight you lifted (Lbs/Kg) and the number of reps you completed. Your One Rep Max (1 RM) will appear at the bottom left, and your various percentages of 1 RM will appear on the right side.

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