The entire purpose of 1RM testing is to help you determine the correct weights you should use in your exercise program. Let’s say you decided to hire a trainer at a local gym to help you with your fitness program. There are two trainers you can hire: “Trainer A” has all of her clients do a 1RM test for every exercise. “Trainer B” just uses trial and error and never uses one rep max testing.
For this example; let’s say you hired “Trainer B” at the gym and he did not have you do a 1RM test. Let’s say “Trainer B” put you on a program with 10 exercises and wanted you to do 8-10 good reps for every exercise. Without doing a one rep max test “Trainer B” would have to guess what weight they should have you use for each exercise. This could take several weeks of trial and error to figure out and a lot of valuable time could be lost. Even then it would be hard for the trainer to know if the weight you were using for each exercise was the optimum weight you should be using.
Now let’s say you fired “Trainer B” and hired “Trainer A” who had you do a 1RM test for every exercise. Once this test has been done you will know what the theoretical maximum weight you can lift for any exercise is. You could also just load up your barbell and after some experimenting determine the maximum weight you can lift for any exercise, but this can be dangerous to do and maintaining good form is very difficult. One Rep Max testing is just a safer and quicker way of determining the maximum weight you can lift with proper form for any exercise.
Now, the purpose of 1RM testing is not so you can tell everybody the maximum weight you can lift for barbell curls or squats. Instead, we use this number to determine the weight you should use for any exercise for a desired number of reps. In the same way the IRS needs your “Gross Income” to determine your tax rate, a trainer needs your 1RM for every exercise to determine the weight you should use to do a certain number of reps. In the above example “Trainer A” would know after one rep max testing exactly what weight you should use for 8 -10 reps for every exercise since she knows that you should do 80% of your 1RM for this rep range. If “Trainer A” changes your routine to a higher rep program of 15 reps she and you will instantly know exactly what weight to use because studies show that a person should use 70% of their one rep max when doing 15 reps. One rep max testing simply takes the guess work out of weight selection and reduces the time wasted by trial and error. The other benefit of 1RM testing is that when you need to change your number of reps in your program you can easily determine the correct weight you should use without just taking your best guess. Let me summarize with the following example:
Let’s say you take a 1RM test for Barbell Curls and your 1RM is found to be 100 lbs. Now let me show how easy it is to determine the weight you should use for Barbell Curls in your exercise program:
1. I f you want to do a warm up set you should use a weight of about 50% of your 1RM (.50 x 100 lbs = 50 lbs). Thus you should use 50 lbs in your warm up set.
2. I f you want to do 15 reps you should use 70% of your 1RM (.70 x 100 lbs = 70 lbs). Thus, you should use 70 lbs if you want to do 15 reps
3. I f you want to do 8-10 reps you should use 80% of your 1RM (.80 x 100 lbs = 80 lbs). Thus, you should use 80 lbs if you want to do 8-10 reps
4. I f you want to do 4 reps you should use 90% of your 1RM (.90 x 100 lbs = 90 lbs). Thus, you should use 90 lbs if you want to do 4 reps
As you can see from the above example 1RM testing makes it very simple and easy to determine the correct weight to use for any exercise no matter what rep range is desired. STS is based on using 1RM testing because studies have shown that when people just use their best judgment they usually select a weight that is way too light and their results suffer accordingly. I know a lot of people think they can get the same results without 1RM testing, but studies show that this is simply not the case. If you want to maximize your results you need to do 1RM testing.