Are you ready to discover the ultimate measure of your strength? Meet the 1RM (one-repetition maximum) test – the gold standard for gauging your power without the need for a fancy lab setting.
If you want to learn more about strength testing, just keep reading!
You might also like this calculator for finding your estimated 1RM!
What is One Rep Max Testing?
Discover the secret to measuring your strength like a pro! It’s called the 1RM test, and it’s the gold standard for checking how strong you are! All you have to do is lift the heaviest weight you can manage for one repetition, using the right technique, of course.
This test is a favorite among strength and conditioning coaches, helping them assess your strength, find any imbalances, and see how effective your training is.
The best part? It’s been proven safe and reliable for people of different ages and fitness levels!
You can try the 1RM test with various exercises like squats, bench presses, leg curls, and more. But be cautious! If you’re new to weightlifting, it’s better to avoid this test to prevent muscle soreness or serious injury. Safety always comes first!
What is the Purpose of a 1RM Test?
The 1RM test is not just about measuring strength, but it can also tell us about other important aspects like force, power, and velocity. For athletes, having strong muscles is crucial for better sports performance, and testing their 1RM can show how well their training is working.
By testing the 1RM before and after a training program, coaches can see if the program is effective in improving strength. It’s also helpful to do this test regularly during the program to keep track of progress and avoid getting stuck.
This test is valuable for anyone who wants to see how their physical abilities improve over time. It’s also great for comparing the strength of different athletes by calculating their relative strength based on their body weight. It is also an effective way to find strength imbalances, even in untrained populations.
So, the 1RM test is not just a simple strength test – it’s a powerful tool to measure various factors that can help athletes reach their full potential!
What You Need To Conduct Testing
- A reliable and consistent place to test
- Free weights or machine
- At least one additional person (but two is better – a spotter and someone to record)
- A timer if you want to know more than just strength
- A way to record your results for future reference
When any kind of fitness testing is done, it should be in a consistent environment under similar circumstances for accurate results.
In the research, different rest times were used during the 1RM test. Some studies had only 1-2 minutes of rest between attempts, while others used 3-5 minutes. It might seem odd to have such short rest periods for a maximal-effort exercise like the 1RM test, but these studies still got reliable and accurate results.
So, when doing the 1RM test, it’s best for the strength and conditioning coach to choose a preferred rest time between 1 to 5 minutes and stick to it consistently. That way, until more research gives us a clear answer, the coach can use this method confidently.
Some researchers even used a scale called CR10 Borg Scale to decide the rest duration for participants. If participants rated their effort as low (≤ 3 on the scale), they rested for 1 minute. If the effort was higher (rated as ≥ 4), they got 2 minutes of rest. Even though these rest periods seem short, the researchers still found the tests to be accurate and dependable. But remember, these 1RM tests were done on older adults (75+ years).
Procedure to Follow
Optional: Calculate body mass. The tester should be weighed in light clothing with any shoes and accessories removed. This is important to do if you are testing relative strength, not just total strength.
Starting the 1RM Test
Note: Always use a full range of motion for any strength test.
To start the 1RM test, the participant should warm up with a weight they can lift about 6 to 10 times (around half of what they can lift at their strongest).
Then, they take a 1 to 5-minute break (chosen by the test administrator) before selecting a weight that they can lift about 3 times (around 80% of their predicted maximum).
After another 1-minute rest (decided by the test administrator), they increase the weight and begin trying to lift their absolute maximum (1RM). They can make several attempts, with rests of 1 to 5 minutes between each try. For upper-body exercises, the weight increments usually go up by 5 to 10%, and for lower-body exercises, it’s usually 10 to 20%. Most people can achieve their 1RM within 3 to 7 attempts.
If they’re doing multiple 1RM tests (like back squats, bench presses, and deadlifts), it’s recommended to take a 3 to 5-minute break between each exercise.
A crucial point to remember is that the test administrator must follow the same testing procedure for each test during the training program. This consistency ensures that the previous test results can be compared to future tests and helps track progress accurately.
If you are testing without an administrator, you will need to make your best judgment call on rest times. However, you should still keep track of the procedure you follow so that you can stay consistent for your next attempts.
Scoring Your 1RM
You can find someone’s maximum strength for a specific exercise by recording the total weight they lift in kilograms or pounds. This figure shows how strong they are in that exercise.
Maximal Strength = total weight lifted (e.g. 200 lb back squat).
If you want to measure explosive strength, like in the power clean exercise, you can use the same method:
Maximal explosive strength = total weight lifted (e.g. 200 lb power clean).
Comparing the performances of different athletes can be tricky, but using relative strength can help. It compares how much weight an individual can lift per pound of their body weight:
Relative Strength (lb · BW) = total weight lifted (lb) ÷ body mass (lb).
By calculating relative strength, you get a more fair comparison between athletes, considering their body weight as well. Keep in mind that it’s not perfect, but it’s a helpful tool for group comparisons.
What to Consider
Before starting the 1-RM test, there are important things to consider:
- Full range of movement: It’s crucial for the participant to perform the exercise with the complete range of motion correctly. For example, in a parallel squat test, they must go down to the parallel position and not higher or lower.
- Injuries: Make sure the athletes are injury-free before doing the One RM test. If someone has a medical condition, it’s best to get consent from a medical professional like a doctor.
- Circadian rhythms: The body’s natural rhythms can affect performance in anaerobic tests. Morning tests may show lower peak power compared to tests done in the late afternoon or evening.
- Individual effort: It’s essential for the participant to give their full effort. Trying less than their best can lead to inaccurate and meaningless results.
How Reliable is 1RM Testing?
Many studies have proven the reliability of 1RM testing as a measure of strength for different groups of people:
- Children (6-12 years)
- Teen athletes (15-17 years)
- Healthy adults, trained and untrained (18-36 years)
- Middle-aged individuals, untrained (50-52 years)
- Post-menopausal women (54-60 years)
- Patients with cardiovascular disease
- People aged 75+
It has also shown to be a reliable method for testing maximal weight for the following lifts:
- Power Clean
- Stiff-Leg Deadlift
- Back Squat
- Smith Machine Squat
- Split Squat
- Bench Press
- Triceps Extension
- Triceps Push-Down
- Seated Chest Press
- Standing Chest Press
- Supine Press
- Leg Press
- Leg Extensions
- Leg Curls
- Seated Row
- Low Row
- Heel Raise
- Lat Pull-Down
- Shoulder Press
- Overhead Press
- Military Press
- Leg Adduction
- Hip Extension
- Hip Flexion
- Biceps Curl
History of The 1RM Strength Test
Early research on 1 RM testing dates back to 1955. However, testing how much weight someone can lift dates back far before the research was being conducted. Testing protocol has changed, but the sentiment stays the same: learn how much muscular strength an individual has.
It has developed to be a reliable assessment of maximal strength.
Alternatives For Testing Maximum Muscle Strength
For those who are younger or have less training experience, sub-maximal tests can be a great alternative to the 1RM test. These tests use formulas to predict your maximum strength and are generally as accurate as the 1RM tests.
To perform the sub-maximal test, start with a warm-up using a light weight you can lift for 5 to 10 reps. Rest for two minutes, then increase the weight by 10 to 20 percent and do as many reps as possible. Your goal is to reach failure between 2 and 10 reps.
Use this calculator to predict your 1RM.
Another option is the 3RM or 5RM tests, which are helpful for reducing injury risk, especially in the lower body squat test. Warm up thoroughly before attempting these tests, and establish your 3RM or 5RM by trial and error within 5 lifts. After each attempt, adjust the weight by 5 to 10 pounds based on how it goes.
Remember to take plenty of rest between attempts.
Ready to Test Your 1RM?
Are you ready to put your strength to the ultimate test and find out your one rep max? Whether you’re new to strength training or trying to program your next strength training program, the 1RM test has been proven a safe and reliable test. So, are you up for the challenge? Get ready to discover your true strength and see how far you can go!
Just don’t forget the warm-up!
Ready to get to the gym but don’t know where to start? Find a free training program here!