Tip: Your 1RM Doesn't Really Matter

Unless you're a competitor, you're better off using other measurements of progress. Check 'em out here.

Unless you intend to spend time on a competition platform in Olympic lifting or powerlifting, there just isn't much benefit to working directly on building your one-rep max (1RM), or even in testing it, in any exercise.

With single-rep sets, you're really only developing your neural efficiency: the ability to maximally recruit motor units in the trained muscles. While improved neural efficiency isn't a bad thing, 1RM attempts have a much higher risk of injury, and they don't provide enough time under tension or metabolic damage to stimulate muscle growth.

Remember, you demonstrate your strength with your 1RM, but you really don't build it much.

Yes, feel free to chase personal records. It's just that your 3RM, 5RM, 8RM, and even 20RM have much greater overall value than your 1RM.

The stereotypical bro question, "How much ya bench?" should be replaced by, "How much ya bench for five?", even if it sounds kind of awkward.

Dean Graddon (B Ed, MA) is a high-school teacher and coach with over 20 years' experience working with athletes from such diverse disciplines as swimming, soccer, volleyball, basketball and triathlon. Dean is dedicated to the promotion of health and fitness and loves a good challenge.