How to Approach One Rep Max Days

Douglas Esposito Coach's Corner

Do us a favor and follow us on youTube if you haven’t yet!!

A.  You won’t PR all the time.

New athlete’s get spoiled. They PR all the freakin’ time! After six months to a year, the regularity of PRs slow down. After two years or more it’s a regular battle to keep pushing forward. After three years it feels like a jagged, back and forth struggle to eek out a pound here or a kilo there.

It’s not you, that’s just how human performance works.

B.  Our strength cycle allows you to be constantly evaluating where you are in relation to your PRs and percentages.

By having that last set of bench, squat, press, dead lift, and front squat be an AMrAP (as many reps as possible) you are able to get an instantaneous, ball-park, idea of where you are percentage wise. Everyone is a little different, but you can use the following conversions to have a basic idea of where you are at any given time.

10 reps = around 75% of your 1RM

8 reps = around 80% of your 1RM

5 reps = around 85% of your 1RM

3 reps = around 90% of your 1RM

2 reps = around 95% of your 1RM

This can help you make adjustments mid-cycle when you are newer and may be PRing every four weeks or so still. Let me give you an example to help you out:

Based on previous work or a predicted 1RM calculation, you think your max front squat is around 175#.

On a day that calls for 5@70%, 3@80%, and an AMrAP at 90% you load up and hit five reps at 125# (because you like to round up I guess), three reps at 140#, and then eight reps at 157.5# (I see you finally busted out the 1.25# plates).

Lets use the eight rep conversion at 80% that means your new “Predicted 1 Rep Max” is .80x = 157.5# OR x = 157.5/.80 = 196#

That means your actual max is a bit north of 175#, and while it may not be quite 196#, its probably OK to start running your percentages off of 185-190# for the time being. When in doubt, be a little conservative, as the AMrAPs will help drive positive changes even if you are a little light on your estimated maxes.


C.  Only lifts executed at an intensity of 70% (newer athletes) or 80% (more advanced athletes) and up for that given rep range are really going to drive a positive adaptation and build your capacity for a PR next time.

What this means is you want a good number of “work sets” if you miss your PR attempt so you do the work for hitting it next time.

Example: You are an athlete who has been training for two or three years and although you PR’d your back squat at 285# last cycle, you’ve been feeling strong this time around and feel like you should be able to hit that 300# mark.

You warm up with a couple reps at 135#, a couple reps at 225#, and then throw 300# on the bar and get driven like a nail into the spotter arms when you try to hit it. You fail so spectacularly you don’t do any more squats and then sulk for the rest of the workout.

The first thing is that you messed yourself up on not doing more reps for next time. By hitting some singles at 240, 255, 270, and 286 (even a pound PR is a PR) you would have done the work to hit your lift next time if not today. The second problem here is that:


D.  You were aiming for a five percent PR, when you should have been happy with a two percent PR.

For the first year of training you were able to make 15# PRs with regularity. As you train for several years you need to start paying attention to the percentage of PR you are attempting vs the number of pounds you had been able to go up in the past. Again, if you are too conservative, your AMrAPs will show you more or less where you are during the cycle.

If you have any questions on the material in the video or what I’ve written here come ask!

For you to get the most out of what we are doing here I feel it is very important for you to “get this”. So really – ask questions!!