Every aspiring meathead wishes they could skyrocket their one rep max.
We get stuck wondering things like, “How can I get stronger faster?” or “Why can’t I gain mass like that guy?”
When you’re unsure what to do, it’s hard to move forward.
The good news is you can easily bring order to the chaos by knowing exactly what steps will make you stronger.
In this post, I’ll define one rep max and provide three surefire ways to increase it. I hope this will give you a roadmap to increase that one rep max and get bigger and aesthetic AF as you do.
What is the perfect situation or approach for Increasing 1RM?
One rep max (1RM) refers to the maximum amount of weight an individual can lift for one repetition of a given exercise with the proper technique. It is often used to measure an individual’s strength and is commonly tested in weightlifting and powerlifting competitions.
In other words:
Your one rep max determines how strong you are now, but it also serves as a baseline for tracking progress and setting training goals.
The added benefit is that when someone asks for your max, you’ll actually know it.
Determine Current Strength
How much you can lift now is truly a vanity metric unless you know how to use it. If you do, it becomes an essential part of progress and growth. How can you find your one rep max? Use this calculator for now. Testing too often does more harm than good.
This is a crucial component because it will determine the exact numbers for weight and reps that you need to complete to skyrocket your one-rep max.
Many people who are new to lifting start out on the right track but then get stuck because they don’t know the formulas to increase strength.
And then they wind up stuck or hurt instead of making steady progress.
The key to increasing strength quickly is to understand programmatic increases.
To get started here, you will need to find your current one rep max. Use this calculator though, don’t go test it in the gym. It may sound counterintuitive, but one rep max tests can do more to harm your max than they do to help it without the proper training.
Progression in weight training refers to the process of gradually increasing the resistance or weight used during exercises to stimulate continued strength and muscle gains over time. This can involve increasing the weight lifted, the number of repetitions performed, or the frequency of training sessions.
If you’ve spent hours beating a single muscle group into submission, but something still feels off – like you’re not getting results, this is likely the piece that’s missing.
Without this, you can train that muscle group all you want and still not increase your one-rep max.
What can you do?
A really useful concept for understanding how to progress is knowing your existing fitness level.
No matter how long you have been lifting, if you can’t deadlift 2x, squat 1.5x, or bench press your bodyweight, you are still a beginner. But this is good news! As a beginner, you can still make linear progress.
Linear progression is the process of increasing the weight you lift every time you go to the gym.
So how can you implement linear progression to gain strength quickly? I recommend these steps:
- For bench press, shoulder press, and rows: perform the lift 2-3 times per week using a 5×5 method. Start with 75-80% of your max, then increase the weight every time you perform it. Don’t do additional work for those muscle groups. Get the lift done, and then let them recover.
- For squats: perform the lift 3-4 times per week using the same 5×5 method. Start with 75-80%, then increase the weight every time. Once again, let the muscle recover. Don’t try adding in additional leg work.
- For deadlifts: perform the lift 1-2 times per week, working up to a heavy set of 5. Increase the weight every time. If you are progressing squat, deadlifts will go up as well.
Already tried this, and it isn’t working? Assuming your recovery is good, you may need to try a more advanced method like 5/3/1 or Smolov. However, if you really are a beginner, it’s more likely your recovery is lacking.
Recovery in weight training refers to the process of allowing the body to rest and heal after exercise in order to optimize muscle growth, repair, and overall performance. This includes getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, and allowing enough time for muscles to repair and rebuild between workouts.
Here’s where you’ll really start to see some massive increases in your one-rep max.
Of course, this will require you to put on some body weight. Consider using one of the advanced methods above if you are unwilling to gain some weight to increase your max quickly.
The steps you can use to ensure your recovery supports increasing your max are:
- Eat! You should be eating in a caloric surplus every day when you are attempting to increase your max.
- Then sleep. If your body isn’t getting the sleep it needs, then your hormones and recovery will quickly be negatively affected.
- Then, in order to increase your max reliably, just trust the process. Follow the program and don’t deviate from it, or you will be fighting against what is already known to work.
Once you’re done, you’ll be well on your way to a heavier max.
Putting it All Together for Your Perfect One Rep Max Increasing Formula
There you have it! The three components of your perfect one rep max increasing formula for beginners.
It may sound like a lot, but like most things, practice makes perfect. Just focus on recovery that supports muscle growth. This will help you increase your max and your lean body mass.
What’s next? Go Find Your Max!
If you need help getting started, my one rep max calculator will help you find your existing max so you can start calculating the percentages you need to program your progress!