How much can you bench?

That’s always the first question any bro asks when talking about lifting.

Figuring out the max weight you can lift on your bench, squat, and deadlift, known as your one-rep max (1RM) is more useful than just being able to brag to your friends.

Calculating your one-rep max helps you figure out the correct weight to lift and how heavy you need to lift to reach your strength goals.

By training a specific percentage of your 1RM, you can accurately place the proper amount of stress on your muscles over a specific amount of time.

If you’re trying to improve your strength and muscle, knowing your one-rep max can be super important.

Are you ready to properly plan out your gains?

You can use the formula below to find your 1RM and use it to calculate your percentage goals.

This will allow you to ensure you’re working your muscles as effectively as possible.

What is 1RM?

A 1RM stands for one rep max. It’s the max amount of weight you can lift for a single rep of an exercise.

It’s the best way to measure your true strength of an exercise.

One rep max should mostly be used for compound exercises.

Testing your 1RM can mess up your lifting routine as it can affect your recovery or increase your chance of recovery.

Calculate Your 1RM

You can calculate your 1RM using a formula created by the University of New Mexico.

For upper body lifts, find the heaviest weight you can lift for 4-6 reps and then plug into the following: (weight 4-6 reps x 1.1307) + 0.6998.

An example is if you can do 5 reps of 60kg (132lbs), plug it into the formula (60kg x 1.1307) + 0.6998 = 68.5kg.

For lower body lifts, use the formula: (weight 4-6 reps x 1.09703) + 14.2546.

Now that you can find your 1RM, choose the right volume and intensity for your training to fit your goals and workout plan.

Using the proper lifting numbers in your routine in conjunction with proper diet and you’ll reach your goals in no time!

How Much Weight Should You Be Lifting?

Figuring out your 1RM is important, but applying it is to your training regime is what makes it so important.

Training with the proper weight at the right intensity will help you reach your goals faster.

If you’re just starting, start light and gradually increase throughout time.

50% of Your 1RM: Best for Explosive Power

Use this weight for three to six sets of three to four reps of explosive reps.

Using 50% of your max will train your muscles to be stronger and faster without adding as much mass.

This lifting strategy is useful for athletes who are looking to build muscle without adding as much mass.

70% of Your 1RM: Best for Endurance

This weight is great for training your muscles to be able to handle moderate loads over long distances.

For example, if you’re running a marathon and need to cover long distances at a moderate speed with minimal rest.

If your workout routine includes endurance training like this, 70% of your max is the right amount of weight for most exercises.

Do sets of 12 to 20 reps to help burn calories and increase your metabolism.

80-85% of Your 1RM: Best for Muscle Building

Finding the right ratio between volume and intensity is important for muscle building.

Use 80-85% of your max and do sets of eight to 12 reps with a rest period of less than one minute between sets.

This method will help you build lean muscles, increase strength over time, and burn fat during the process!

90% of Your 1RM: Best for Building Power

By moving heavy loads with speed, you train your muscles to create maximal force.

Use this weight percentage and accelerate the bar as quickly as possible while maintaining control and proper form.

You only need to do three to four reps with two to three minutes of rest for about three to four sets.

95% of Your 1RM: Best for Strength

Using this weight will train your muscles to be able to handle loads that are heavier than they’re used to, which is great for strength building!

Do around two reps with two to three minutes of rest in between sets and shoot for three or four sets.

Don’t attempt to do this rep range for more than six to 12 weeks or you’ll wear out your nervous system.

How Do I Test My One Rep Max?

Trainers and coaches usually program lifting routines using percentages based on your one-rep max.

They do this because they don’t know your actual strength level, but they know what percentages you should be using.

Some important points to remember when lifting based on your one-rep max:

  • Stop your set once your form starts to break down or if your range of motion decreases.
  • No 1RM is worth getting injured or you could risk having to stop your training.
  • Make sure you calculate the 1RM for each exercise and not the same weight for all exercises based on one specific lift.
  • You can safely find your 1RM by taking the 1RM that you calculated using the formulas above and see how many reps you can do with 90% of that weight.

How Do I Use My One-Rep Max In A Workout?

You’re probably thinking that your one-rep max doesn’t matter much since you don’t ever train that heavy anyway.

But, if you use a program that asks you to lift 75% of your 1RM, you’ll be happy you figured out your one-rep max.

You can use this max reps chart to see what you should use to reach your fitness goals.

Remember that the numbers in the above chart are only estimates and won’t always be accurate for everybody.

Reps and maxes can also fluctuate based on your food intake, sleep quality, and recovery from your previous workout.

How Many Reps Can You Do Based on Your 1RM?

You can estimate how many reps you can typically do at a specific percentage based on your 1 RM.

Keep in mind that these are only estimates and there is variation based on each individual.

Warming Up for a 1RM Attempt

Are you attempting a new PR?

Use the below chart as a basis to warm up properly for your max attempt.

What’s the Difference Between a 1RM and a Personal Record?

A personal record is a term used to describe a max that you’ve hit in the past.

A one-rep max is a term used to describe a max that you’re going for this time.

It’s important not to confuse the two and think of them as the same.

Increasing Your 1RM

If you’re trying to increase your one-rep max, you have to train with a heavier weight at your given percentage.

You can increase your 1RM by doing the following:

  • Increase your muscle mass. Stronger and bigger muscles can produce more force. Focus on lifting heavy for each exercise.
  • Supplement your primary exercises with accessory movements to increase your muscle mass for the targeted muscle groups. We have guides for the best chest, back, tricep, and shoulder exercises you can use.
  • Take time off between workouts where you do bench presses and squats to give yourself time to recover your strength levels. Our bodies are different and respond to exercise differently. You should listen to yours to gauge how much rest is necessary to help you build muscle.
  • Improve your technique. A better technique can make better use of your muscles.
  • Improve your neuromuscular efficiency by focusing on muscle activation, contraction, and coordination.
  • Proper diet can help improve energy levels, recovery, and increase muscle size. Diet is 90% of the battle to reach your fitness goals!
  • Supplementation with creatine and other supplements such as pre-workout can help with energy and recovery

One Rep Max FAQ’s

What is your 1RM?

A 1RM is the one repetition max amount of weight you can lift for an exercise. It is also considered the max amount of force your muscles can generate in one max contraction for an exercise.

What does PR mean in a gym?

A PR is a personal record. It is the personal best you have ever performed in a fitness achievement. It’s a popular term to identify achievements related to the heaviest weight lifted for a specific exercise.

How many reps is a PR?

A PR is a lift that you have never been able to achieve before. It is not limited to a specific rep range. If you’re a competitive lifter, your main focus should be on lifting the heaviest weight possible.

How do you calculate your 1 rep max?

The easiest way to calculate your one-rep max is to attempt to lift a weight you think would be the heaviest weight you can lift safely during an exercise. If you are worried about attempting a 1 RM, you can use one of several different formulas to find your max based on the number of repetitions you can properly do for an exercise.

What is the average 1 rep max?

The average 1 rep max standards are dependent on both the exercise and your body weight. If you’re unhappy with your strength standard compared to other lifters, you should focus on lifting heavier weight for fewer reps with longer rest periods to improve your strength and increase your 1 RM.

Is a max one rep?

Your one-rep max is the most weight you can lift for a single repetition for a given exercise. You can increase your one-rep max by focusing on lifting heavier weights for fewer reps and longer rest periods. Also, you should utilize accessory exercises to improve the strength of the muscle group used in the 1 RM.

When should you try your 1 rep max?

If you’re trying to improve your 1 RM, you should only be maxing out about three months. Maxing out too often can lead to injury, stalled progress, or decreased performance limiting the effectiveness of your workout routine.

How often should I hit a PR?

PR’s don’t have to be one-rep maxes meaning you should aim for small PR’s every week when lifting. This can include adding more sets, reps, weight, or reducing rest between sets. The goal should be small, consistent progress to equate to long-term results.

Is maxing out bad for you?

Maxing out on an exercise does have a time and place, but too many max attempts in a short period can be taxing on the central nervous system. It can also lead to stalled progress, pain, or injury if the form is compromised. If your goal is strength, you can focus on quality reps using about 75-80% of your 1 RM to achieve your goal.

What percentage of my PR should I lift?

If your goal is muscle growth, you should aim to lift for sets of eight to 12 reps using about 80 percent of your 1 RM. This means that if you bench 300 pounds, you should be doing working sets with about 240 pounds for eight to 12 reps with proper form.

How do I know how much weight I should lift?

If your muscles fail or you can’t keep proper form before reaching the goal number of reps, pick a weight five to ten pounds lighter. If you can easily maintain proper form, add 10 pounds before doing the next set.


Calculating your one-rep max should be done as early as possible so you can track your progress towards achieving your strength goals!

By learning your one-rep max, you can program your routine to efficiently lift the weight needed.

Make sure you warm up properly before a one-rep max attempt and don’t do them too often or you’ll risk inhibiting your lifting progress.

Are you trying to increase your one-rep max?

Feel free to contact us and we will gladly help you figure out a routine for free!

Article Name
How to Calculate Your One Rep Max to Target Your Strength Goals
This is a complete 2021 one rep max workout guide that covers how to find your 1RM to figure out the percentages to use for your rep ranges.
Publisher Name
Sweat and Steel
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