Here’s a question: How strong are you?
Sure, you hit the gym with your straps and pull off six to eight reps of some heavy lifts. But unless you can put a definitive numerical value to just how much your muscles can handle, it’s not a question you can answer with certainty.
When it comes to lifting weights, one of the main goals is improved strength, which is why it’s important to know your One-Rep Max (1RM) in most of your basic power lifts like squat, bench press and deadlift. This number represents the maximum amount of weight you can move in a single rep.
Despite the importance of determining your 1RM, a surprising number of women in the weight room don’t know theirs. But why should you bother figuring it out and how can you benefit? For starters, calculating your 1RM gives you a definite baseline point to work from: once you know how you stack up, you can gauge your improvements as you continue to aim for PR after PR (that’s gym speak for “personal record”). Secondly, by knowing your 1RM you can then fit your numbers into your workout program. A good program is always built on reps, sets, and percentages based on your 1RM.
But arguably, the most important reason to know and improve your 1RM is that in doing so, you’ll be developing epic strength. And as you know, with increased strength comes a number of health benefits, including speeding up your metabolism by building lean muscle, boosting athletic performance in sports, and improved bone density as you age. The bottom line: whether you’re a man or woman, a powerlifter or a weight-room enthusiast, strength matters—and there is no greater test of strength than your one rep max.
Written by Rob King, CPT, Founder & CEO of Heavyweights Fitness | Photography by Paul Buceta
Model Jessica Rinaldi