Next week is the culmination of our 12-week strength program that we have been working tirelessly on. Now, it’s time to reap the benefits and see how much stronger we have become! But, how do we determine where we are currently at and what we should be shooting for? The more 1 rep max attempts we have during testing, the more tired we get and the higher risk of injury as our form deteriorates. So, we should have a goal number in mind rather than hitting multiple heavy attempts that are relatively close numbers.
During our testing days, we will give you percentages of your goal to go after. Most of the reps should be relatively easy. We want you to warm up the movement, but not stress the muscles too much until the final testing sets.
Create your 100% (1 RM) goal according to the options below:
Option 1: Use if you have not hit close to your previous 1 RMs or your 5 RM, 3RM, and 1 RM have stayed the same lately.
If your strength hasn’t been progressing much, chances are your 1 RM is close to what it was in the past. Let’s set your goals for the day off of your previous max. The last two sets of your testing will be 1 rep at 100% and 1 rep at +2-4%. If you hit your 100%, nice work, you just hit your old 1 RM! Then, if you (and your coach) thought your form was great and you have more in you, bump it up a little to around 105% of that number. Hit it and you have a new PR. If you don’t, no worries, you are still a strong MF! To improve next time around, come to class more, improve your nutrition/recovery, or stick to the weightlifting percentages given in class better in the future.
Option 2: If you are new, don’t have a 1 RM, and/or have not been in the gym much lately.
Your test day is going to be a guessing game, and that’s okay. Your coach can help decide along the way how much you should be lifting based off of your RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion, and your technique on that particular lift. Your coach will guide you through the set and determine where you should be for your 1 RM test day. Remember, even if you have lifted X-lbs in the past, if you haven’t been regular at the gym, that may not be your current 1 RM. Technique is key, especially when lifting maximal loads.
Option 3: Use if during the program you have been smashing your lifts, hit new 5 RM or 3 RMs, or already hit a new 1 RM.
The Russians are incredible weight lifters. Some amazing Russian coach along the way came up with a chart that estimates our 1 RMs from our multiple repetition maxes. We can use the chart below and/or some math to determine what our realistic 1 rep max goal should be. Based on our best 5RM, 3 RM, or any other data you have accumulated over the last 11 weeks, we can use those numbers to estimate our new 1 RM. This is your 100% goal for the test. As stated above, your final two sets will be 100% and +2-4%. If you hit the 100%, that’s a new PR! Then, if you feel you can hit a heavier lift, wait a few minutes and try for another. If you are satisfied with your performance and think bad form or failure will occur, do not make that last attempt.
Side note: for some of you with high loads, if you want another attempt, but 2-4% is too aggressive, back it down a bit. For example, if I hit a 405 deadlift my 104% is 420. If 405 is my new PR and it achieved, but rough, I would think about only adding 5-10 lbs versus 15. If that 405 felt easy, maybe 420 is doable. Make the choice based on your RPE, Rate of Perceived Exertion.
Now to the math. Before the workout, look at your recent numbers for that particular lift. Pick the top lift you hit recently. It may be a 2RM, 3RM, or 5 RM. It might even be an 8 RM you hit it during the 5+ day. Use the chart below to determine your new, estimated 1 RM. If your numbers happen to be on the chart, use that. If they don’t, here is an example on how to find your estimated 1 RM.
75 for 7 reps:
7 reps is estimated at 82.5% of your 1 RM
75/.825 = 90
Your 100% and goal for the day is going to be 90 lbs.
345 for 5 reps:
5 reps is estimated at 87.5% of your 1 RM
345/.875 = 395
Your 100% and goal for the day is going to be 395 lbs
Remember, when it doubt, ask your coach. They can guide you through this whole process. Be safe and go out there and get stronger people! Ensure you have good technique, core engagement, and you listen to your body.
Sean Spire is the Head Coach of ASL. He was a competitive swimmer who discovered CrossFit and Ironman Triathlons. He has his BS in Exercise Science from Florida State University.