What % When Doing Max Lifts

Hey Everyone!

A common question comes up regarding what loads people should be lifting in our 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 days, and I wanted to share it with you here in case you missed it:

The question goes like this:
“When testing for a 1 RM will we always use the 7 X 1 rep scheme or does it vary by movement? why not do more of an 8,5,3,1,1,1 rep scheme with increasing weights? I’m wondering if there is enough stimulus using the 7 X 1 prior to the heavier pulls. Can you comment on this?”

7 x 1 is the primary we use for a number of reasons. In the above example, 8,5,3… this isn’t the best rep scheme for finding a new max unless you go really light on those first three sets. At that point, we are really just doing 1,1,1 (and the 8,5,3 are just warm up sets).

7 heavy singles is going to be a bit of training stimulus (primarily muscle fiber recruitment and not mass), and it is going to get a good test of where we are at (even if you don’t do a true 1 RM).

Also, sticking to some of the same rep schemes is good for training log continuity. We do so many lifts, there is a chance that if we had 2 or 3 different schemes for testing relative maxes people would only be able to compare their numbers from a year or more ago (not great since it takes so long to get that hit of dopamine for accomplishing something).

So, you should be doing 8,5,3 before the singles (at a much lighter load), or 5,5,3,2 etc. as warm-up sets…the 7 x 1 is part training stimulus, part max testing, and part training log continuity.

2nd question:

“If you already have an established 1 rep max, do you have a suggested % of the 1RM for the first rep in the 7 x 1 series?”

It depends on the max (how much total weight you are lifting).

Here is a general guide (if we are talking percentages, a rule of thumb is to jump up in 10-20lb increments for ease of plate math):

Set 1 = 75% or 80%
Set 2 = 85%
Set 3 = 90%
Set 4 = 95%
Set 5 = 100 or 105%

Then the last 2 sets depending on how the 5th set felt.

Set 5 felt good…go up.
Set 5 felt okay or hard…go again (same weight, but make it better).
Set 5 felt really hard, failed rep, or bad form…go down.

That isn’t to say that we will never switch to testing in the 2-3 rep range, but the above lays out the reasons for testing maxes as we do currently.

I hope that makes sense!