Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Exercise Testing: 1 Repetition Max

We have 1 more week of baseline testing with my weight training group. We are finishing up Leg Press and Chest Press max testing this week. Then the last 3 weeks of the semester they'll learn and test Bench, Deadlift, and Squat. Some of my students are bored by the process, but baseline testing takes time and it makes programming so much more effective.

1 Repetition Max
The 1 repetition max is the test used to measure muscular strength in a muscle or muscle group. Strength is generally identified as the amount of external force that can be generated, or resistance lifted  in pounds(lbs) or kilograms(kg). Strength is usually determine between 1-5 reps. The 1RM represents 100% muscular effort through full range of motion with good posture.

5 to 8 Rep Max Tests
When I do my own testing I use a 1-5 repetition max protocol. But, when I'm dealing with new exercisers or unknown abilities I'll use the 5-10 RM. Most of my new exercisers are comfortable with a higher rep range and they are more likely to complete the reps through full ROM and with good posture. You can memorize the table below to easily convert your 5-10RM to your estimated 1-RM. The highlighted rep ranges are the ones I usually use.

Adapted from Green, D.J(ed) (2014). ACE Personal Trainer Manual: The Ultimate Resource For Fitness Professionals (5th ed.). SanDiego, CA: American Council on Exercise.

How do I use my 1-RM
Based on my fitness goals I use a percentage of my 1-RM to design a more effective workout.

I usually work at 70% or 8-12 repetitions. Working at no less than 70% 1RM should provide enough resistance to promote increases in size and shape (hypertrophy).

Here is another handy table you can use to choose the %1RM to meet your goals

Adapted from Baechle, T.R. & Earle, R. W. (eds)(2008). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics
That is why I love baseline testing. You could go into every session guessing how much weight you should be using and progress slowly. Or you could know your numbers at conquer your workouts with precision and get faster results.

Is strength testing part of your fitness program?

Try adding a strength test to your routine and retest every 4-8 weeks and see how you're progressing. If you need more hands on assistance with testing or programming you should work with a certified fitness professional to get you started. 

Health and Happiness,


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