What Is A 1 Rep Max, And Should You Use It?

If you are really new to the gym I have heard many people ask what is a 1 Rep Max, or should I be training with one rep maxes. And I think that is amazing because they are curious and hungry to make progress, and to better answer this question I did some research.

Well a 1 Rep Max is the amount of weight you can pull with proper form only once, no more no less. But should you do it well the 3 biggest positives about the 1 RM are a great strength bench mark, added motivation, and and help tailor your training. With the 3 negatives being a high risk of injury, it is very fatiguing, and a high level of physiological pressure.

woman lifting barbell
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What Is A 1 Rep Max?

A 1 Rep Max, also known as 1RM, is a term commonly used in weightlifting and strength training. It refers to the max amount of weight that you can lift with proper form only 1 time. The 1RM is often used as a benchmark to measure an strength, track progress, and determine training intensities.

It is worth mentioning that discovering your 1RM requires caution and proper technique. It is advisable to work with a qualified coach or trainer to ensure safety and accurate assessment.

Moreover, warming up properly and gradually increasing the weight when attempting a 1RM is essential to minimize the risk of injury.

Remember, the 1RM is just one aspect of overall fitness and strength. It is important to focus on technique, consistency, and proper programming to achieve well-rounded progress in your fitness journey.

If you want to know what rep range you should be training is you can read this article here!

Positive Reasons for Performing 1 Rep Maxes:

Strength Assessment

One great thing about doing a 1 RM is that it shows you how strong you really are, but it also provides a clear benchmark for tracking progress and setting realistic strength training goals.

Motivation and Confidence

Achieving a new personal best during a 1 Rep Max attempt can be highly motivating. It can boost your confidence, encourage continued training, and reinforce the belief that you are making significant progress in your strength training journey.

Specific Training Goals

For people focusing on specific strength goals, testing your 1 Rep Max can help tailor training programs effectively.

By identifying weak points or areas needing improvement, it allows for targeted training to address specific muscle groups.

Negative Aspects of Performing 1 Rep Maxes:

Risk of Injury

Pushing the body to its maximum limit during 1 Rep Max attempts can pose a significant risk of injury. Improper form or excessive weight can strain muscles, tendons, and ligaments, leading to acute injuries and long-term damage.

Fatigue and Recovery

Performing 1 Rep Maxes can be highly demanding on the body, causing considerable fatigue. Recovery time after a 1 Rep Max attempt is typically longer, which can affect subsequent training sessions and overall workout consistency.

Psychological Pressure

The pressure to perform at the maximum capacity during 1 Rep Max attempts can create unnecessary stress and anxiety. This pressure might lead to mental fatigue, lack of enjoyment in training, and an increased risk of burnout over time

How To Find Your 1 Rep Max?

If you want to find out what your 1 rep max is, here is a 7 step process to find out what it is

  1. Warm-up properly: It’s crucial to warm up your muscles and joints before attempting a heavy lift. Spend at least 5-10 minutes performing light cardio exercises, dynamic stretches, and mobility movements specific to the muscle group you will be training.
  2. Choose the right exercise: Select a compound exercise that targets the muscle group you want to assess. Common choices include the bench press (chest), squat (legs), deadlift (back), or shoulder press (shoulders). Ensure you have proper technique and form for the chosen exercise.
  3. Start with lighter weights: Begin with a weight that you can comfortably lift for 10 repetitions with good form. This weight will serve as a starting point to gauge your strength.
  4. Gradually increase the weight: Add small increments of weight after each set, progressively reducing the number of repetitions. Aim for 8 reps in the second set, 6 reps in the third set, and so on.
  5. Rest between sets: Allow yourself 2-3 minutes of rest between each set to recover and prepare for the next one. This rest period helps maintain your strength and performance levels.
  6. Approach maximum effort: As you continue adding weight and decreasing repetitions, you’ll reach a point where you can only perform a single repetition with good form. This weight is likely very close to your 1 Rep Max.
  7. Assess your maximum lift: Once you’ve reached your heaviest lift, attempt it with full focus, determination, and proper technique. It is crucial to have a spotter or trainer present for safety reasons. If you successfully complete the lift, congratulations! You’ve found your 1 Rep Max.

Remember, finding your 1 Rep Max should be done cautiously and sparingly. It is an intense exercise that places significant stress on your muscles and joints. Always prioritize safety and listen to your body.

Now that you know how to find your 1 Rep Max, use this valuable tool to structure your training programs, set goals, and monitor your progress over time. Stay consistent in your training, and with proper nutrition and recovery, you’ll continue to improve your strength and reach new personal records.

Though I still suggest to go through these 7 steps if you want a slight short cut here is a 1 Rep Max calculator.


To re cap a 1 rep max is the amount of weight you can pull just once with good form. But many of you should be asking should you do it?

Well the 3 biggest positives about the 1 RM are a great strength bench mark, added motivation, and and help tailor your training.

With the 3 negatives being a high risk of injury, it is very fatiguing, and a high level of physiological pressure.

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