Big Arms Now!

Are you get­ting stronger? There’s a good way to find out. Here’s how to make sure your one-rep max is all it can be

Men's Fitness - - Front Page -

Our all-new plan will build T-shirt fill­ing mus­cle fast!

A proper one-rep max test isn’t some­thing to try ev­ery week but, done smartly, it’s some­thing to work to­wards be­cause it’s a good in­di­ca­tor of where you are in your lift­ing life. If you’re plan­ning to com­pete in strong­man, pow­er­lift­ing or Olympic lift­ing it’s a must, though you might want to save the gen­uinely all-out ef­forts for com­pe­ti­tion day. For ev­ery­one else, work­ing up to a big sin­gle rep is some­thing to plan for ev­ery few months. Here’s how to do it.


Pre­par­ing for a one-rep max (or 1RM) is dif­fer­ent for ev­ery­one. For some peo­ple, it’s a care­fully planned­out process – for oth­ers, it just means hit­ting a big lift on a day you feel strong. Gen­er­ally, though, you should aim to warm up as you would for any other big day in the gym: plenty of move­ment to get your heart rate up, then some spe­cific lifts.

“I’ll of­ten do a bar­bell com­plex,” says pow­er­lifter Tom Hamil­ton. “Maybe some squats, presses, Ro­ma­nian dead­lifts and hang cleans with an empty bar­bell. I’m also a big fan of body­weight move­ments: press-ups, pull-ups, in­verted rows, hanging leg raises, lunges, squats.” Pick three moves, do three to five reps of each, and re­peat twice.


How many warm-up reps you should do with the lift you’re plan­ning to max out on is a tricky sub­ject. You want to be fully warm but don’t want to wear your­self out. The so­lu­tion? Do most of your reps with min­i­mal weight. If you’re plan­ning to max out with a 120kg squat, for in­stance, you might do two sets of five to ten reps with an empty bar, one set of five with 60kg, an­other with 80kg, then a set of three with 100kg and a sin­gle at 110kg.

“You’re only likely to have, at most, four top-end lifts in the tank on any given day,” says Gym Jones gen­eral man­ager Rob “Bobby Max­imus” Mac­Don­ald. “Make them count.” Don’t feel com­fort­able max­ing out just yet? Not a prob­lem. Keep a record of your records with higher reps - your 3RM or 5RM max, for in­stance - and use an on­line cal­cu­la­tor like to work out your ap­prox­i­mate max. Re­mem­ber, it’s bet­ter to keep chug­ging along and make gains than go out in a blaze of glory.

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