You know you’re serious about weightlifting when you care about your one-rep maxes.
So…I’m glad to have you here. 🙂
And regardless of what you want to know your one-rep maxes, this article is going to help.
If you’re just curious, the calculator is all you need.
If you want to know how your numbers compare against strength standards, you can find that here too.
And if you want to know how to use your one-rep max numbers as a tool for monitoring and optimizing your progress, this article has you covered as well.
I’m going to start this article with the one-rep max (1RM) calculator in case you just want to get to your numbers and so you can get back to it easily and quickly in the future.
Now, the only 100%-accurate way to know how much weight you can lift for a certain number of reps is to actually do it…but there are equations that can predict results with a fair amount of accuracy.
As you’ll see, the results are very similar formula to formula.
I’ve included all three because some people like to get fancy and average the results from each, but personally I just stick with the Brzycki.
If you’d like to know a bit more about how your numbers stack up and how to use 1RM as a training tool, then keep reading!
Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.
Once you know your 1RMs, you inevitably want to know how they rank.
Well, you can use the tables below to find out.
The numbers are one-rep maxes and keep in mind they don’t represent the highest levels of strength possible–they’re just performance benchmarks.
This is what you would expect from someone who hasn’t trained on the exercises but who can do them correctly.
This is what you would expect from someone who has trained regularly on an exercise for up to several months.
This is what you would expect from someone who has trained regularly on an exercise for up to a couple of years.
This is what you would expect from someone who has trained regularly on an exercise for up to multiple years.
This is what you would expect from someone who is an athlete competing in strength sports.
Bench Press – Adult Men
When I first saw these strength standards, it was a bit of a rude awakening.
I had been training for about seven years and wasn’t anywhere the advanced/elite numbers.
I was weak…and I didn’t have much of a physique, either:
To be fair, I don’t think I looked awful…but that’s not what you aspire to look like after seven years of hard work.
Well, I made quite a few changes in my approach to training and diet and here’s me a few years later:
The improvements aren’t just skin deep, either.
I was able to take all my lifts from novice or intermediate to advanced or elite levels and I’ve since been able to maintain this physique and strength year-round with relative ease (4 to 6 hours of exercise per week and flexible dieting).
If you want to know more about what made all the difference, check out this article.
Many people wanting to gain muscle gauge their progress by body weight alone.
If they’re gaining weight, they’re happy. If they’re not, they’re not.
This simplistic method of measuring results can work, but it also can trip you up.
This makes weight an unreliable guide on both fronts (fat loss and muscle growth) because it’s not going to change nearly as much as your physique.
And if you’re an experienced weightlifter that can no longer “recomp” effectively, putting too much emphasis on weight can cause other problems.
The most common one is excessive fat gain during bulking periods.
You see, when your primary goal is to just “gain weight,” “bulking” can easily become “bingeing,” which gives the immediate gratification of a bigger number on the scale…but also gets in the way of muscle building.
There are two main reasons for this.
As your body fat percentage rises…
Insulin is a hormone that shuttles nutrients into cells.
Insulin sensitivity refers to how “sensitive” your cells are to insulin’s signals.
These downsides don’t need much explanation.
As you can see, gaining fat too quickly and letting your body fat levels go too high while bulking is just counter-productive.
It directly impairs muscle growth and supercharges fat gain, which is bad enough, but it also sets you up to fail in the long term as well.
The bigger picture is like this:
Thus, what happens when you get this wrong is you spend relatively short periods of time bulking at half-mast, wherein you don’t gain much muscle, followed by relatively long periods cutting, wherein you don’t gain any muscle and may even lose some.
This an extremely inefficient way to build a physique.
This is why I recommend that you plan and manage your bulking and cutting periods based on your body fat percentage, which you can read more about here.
Alright, then…what does all this have to do with your one-rep maxes?
Well first, there’s this:
If you want to gain muscle, you’re going to have to get stronger.
In fact, building strength on the core four lifts (overhead press, bench press, squat, and deadlift) should be your number-one priority.
These fundamental exercises are the most effective way to build the foundation of muscle that you need to go from “scrawny to brawny.”
And the easiest way to track your progress on them is to keep track of your one-rep maxes.
If your 1RMs for these lifts are going up over time, you’re doing a lot right and moving in the right direction.
Sure, you can still hit plateaus and have to take “special” actions to break them…and you and still need to know how to adjust your diet based on what’s happening on the scale and in the mirror…but in many ways you’ve got the “hardest” part of gaining weight down (training correctly).
Put it all together and keep everything on track and you’ll never get stuck in a rut like I did.
And you’ll be well on your way to having the body you really want.