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Calculating 1RM

Updated: Dec 31, 2022

Your one-repetition max is the maximum amount of weight you can lift for a single rep. A percentage of your 1RM is commonly used to determine a target beginning weight for a particular exercise.

Example - 70% of your 1RM is a typical starting point if the rep scheme for an exercise were four sets of 6 - 8 reps.

Two ways of determining your 1RM are direct maximal testing and submaximal estimation.

Direct maximal testing requires a person to determine exactly how much they can lift for one rep. We do not recommend this method unless you have a spotter.

We recommend submaximal estimation because it uses a formula to calculate your 1RM based on how many reps you can perform using a weight less than your 1RM. For example, if you could perform four reps of 200lbs, your 1RM would be roughly 225lbs. If an exercise called for 80% of your 1RM, you would be looking at about 190lbs.

The Lift League training programs use a percentage of your 1RM as a recommended starting weight for each lift, so we included a 1RM calculator within each downloadable training program.

There are several equations that can be used to calculate your 1RM. Some submaximal equations are more accurate at calculating your 1RM when using fewer reps, while others are more accurate using a higher number of reps. The 1RM calculator we included in our training logs allows you to calculate your 1RM using an average of the seven most popular equations.

The two most popular formulas.

Epley formula

And the Brzycki formula

Epley, Boyd (1985). "Poundage Chart". Boyd Epley Workout. Lincoln, NE: Body Enterprises. p. 86.

Brzycki, Matt (1998). A Practical Approach To Strength Training. McGraw-Hill.


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