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What is your one rep max?

If you've been going to a gym for any length of time, you may have read or overheard people mention something called a one rep max. It's not a new workout routine or piece of machinery. Your one rep max is: The maximum amount of weight you can theoretically move for one repetition while maintaining good form.

Stop and let that sink in for a minute. It's NOT how much weight you can lift for 6, 8 or 10 repetitions. It's the HEAVIEST weight you can lift for just ONE repetition.

There are two primary reasons why people need to find out their one rep max.

  1. Your one rep max can help you determine how much weight you should be lifting to achieve your fitness goals. For example: If you want to build size and strength, you should lift at least 60 percent of your one rep max. If you want to build endurance and tone, you should lift between 30 to 60 percent of your one rep max.

  2. For those of you who simply want to find out how strong you are (or want to compare with your friends), the one rep max can be used as one gauge of a particular muscles' strength.

Attempting to lift your one rep max can be dangerous, especially for the workout beginner. You must avoid the following:

  1. Do not hold your breath or "bear down" to achieve better results. Continue to breathe normally and as instructed by your personal trainer.

  2. Don't let yourself be intimidated if you're unfamiliar with weights. Make sure you are being guided by a health club employee or certified personal trainer to maintain proper form and follow all safety recommendations.

There is always a potential for injury with any maximal effort; that's why there is a formula called the one rep max formula. It allows you to use a lighter weight and perform multiple reps until failure. You then take the weight and reps and plug them into the formula to come up with a close approximation of your actual one rep max without the hazards of dealing with extremely heavy weights.

Here's the one rep max formula:

(For those of you who simply want us to figure it out for you, Click Here for our One Rep Max Calculator!)

(Weight / (1.0278 - (.0278 * Reps)))

The way to figure it out is by walking through each of the calculations, starting with the innermost brackets.

  1. Multiply .0278 by the number of Reps you completed.
  2. Then subtract the answer from 1.0278.
  3. Finally, take the weight you lifted and divide it by your previous answer.
  4. The result is your one rep max.

(You can also CLICK HERE to have us calculate it for you automatically.)

Remember, the one rep max formula is only an estimate, and there are several one rep max formulas available. Your actual one rep max may be higher or lower.

There are four exercises that are better indicators of strength performance for the one rep max test. They are the: Bench press, squat, overhead press and dead-lift. However, you're not restricted to just those exercises. You can use the formula to calculate your one rep max for almost any exercise or body part.

Now that you know how to figure it out, what are you waiting for? When I see you next time, will you be able to tell me what your one rep max is?

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beginning any diet or exercise program.

Updated 8/5/2012