The Basics: What is a 1 RM?


“How much can you lift?”

“How much can you bench?”;

“Who’s the strongest in the gym?”;

“This guy is really big, he has to be strong for sure!”….

These are just a few of the most quoted sentences that any gym goer hears a thousand times. If you have some knowledge in strength and conditioning, you know that none of them have a true meaning. If you didn’t know this, I’m going to tell you why!

Whenever you have to measure the strength of somebody, you have to remember at least two simple rules:

RULE NR.1: In training, everything is relative and specific. You cannot compare different exercises because each exercise has different motions and involves different muscle groups that can produce more or less force due to their specific structure (size, length, fibers quality…).

RULE NR. 2: Subjective and physical features count. Heavier and taller people will lift more then smaller and lighter. Bigger muscles correspond to a greater capacity to generate force.

So what is a 1 RM?

We refer to the 1RM (One Repetition Max), that is the maximal weight one can lift just for one time (a second lift wouldn’t be possible). In strength and conditioning 1RM is used to determine the strength of an athlete. Once you find your 1RM for a certain exercise (usually it is measured for the major lifts: Bench Press, Squat, Dead Lift, Olympic Liftings…), you can build an entire training program based on percentages by entering the weight and it will be translated, depending on the goal of the subject, in a percentage that relates to that athletes 1RM. If your goal is becoming stronger, that means an increase your 1RM, you should lift very high loads (85-95% of your 1RM); if you are sprinter, for instance, you aim to develop power in order to run faster; in this case, you have to use lighter weights that can be lifted faster (30-50% of 1RM).

The relative percentage is called INTENSITY OF THE EFFORT and determines the output of your workout.

Testing 1RM is not the only way we have to measure strength and to fix intensities. Beast Sensor is an effective and more efficient tool that can replace 1RM test and Percentage Based method. It uses velocity to understand the intensity of the effort thanks to the constant relationship that exists between effort and velocity. In fact, every intensity has its own speed! So, if you know the speed of your lifts, you also know which goal you are training: slow lifts correspond to heavy loads, than a strength stimulation; faster lifts with intermediate weights are perfect for power and so on.

Furthermore, if you refer to velocity you don’t need to test 1RM anymore, because it become predictable. Knowing the velocity at which you can lift a certain weight (not necessarily maximal or sub-maximal) you can estimate your 1RM.

So if you want to challenge your gym mates, take a Beast Sensor, decide a weight and see who lifts it faster, the game is done!




Martina Marson

by Martina Marson

From kick boxing to free style wrestling, through functional and strength training. Beast Sensor addicted. Training is my job, my passion and my life.