How to perform a one-rep max test

Word of caution for all max testing

Use caution, do not use a weight you can't safely perform with proper exercise technique.  Always ask a qualified and capable individual to assist you by spotting you safely during your testing sets.


Before attempting a 1-repetition maximum test its important to follow a proper warm-up.

After you’ve completed a general warm-up including some mobility exercises, you’ll start with the exercise you are testing.

  1. Start by performing the test-exercise with a light load for 5-10 reps with 40-50% of your estimated 1RM.
  2. Rest for at least 2 minutes.
  3. Perform another warm-up set with a heavier load and complete 3-5 reps with 50-60% of your 1RM 
  4. Rest for at least 2 minutes
  5. Perform a set of 1-2 reps with 60-70% of your estimated 1RM 
  6. Rest at least 3 minutes 
  7. Perform 1 rep with 70-80% of your estimated 1RM
  8. Rest at least 3 minutes 
  9. (Optional) If you feel you need another warm up set perform 1 rep with 80-90% of your estimated 1RM
  10. Rest at least 3 minutes

Standard 1RM Protocol

  1. Using your warm-up sets as a measure of difficulty, estimate a load that you believe you can complete for one repetition.  
  2. If successful, rest 2-4 minutes and increase the load by 1-5% depending on how difficult it was, and perform a second attempt.  
  3. If you failed your attempt, rest 2-4 minutes and decrease the load by 1-5% using your best judgement and perform a second attempt.  
  4. Repeat this process until you have achieved what you feel is the maximum amount of weight you can lift.   
  5. Your 1RM should be measured within 3-5 testing sets.
  6. Your 1RM will be the most amount of weight you lifted successfully.

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