How do I find my max lifts?
Work up in increments. And don’t try to find all of your max lifts in a single day. Do them over the course of a week. For bench press, after warming up, work up in 20 pound increments until the lift becomes very hard, and then maybe bump the increments down to 10 or 5 pounds.
For squat and deadlift, after warmup sets, work your way up in weight by 30-35-40 pound increments. If you squat and deadlift under 300 pounds, increments of 25-30 are fine. If you squat and deadlift between 300-400 pounds, use 30 pound increments. If you squat and deadlift over 400 pounds, 30-40 pound increments work better. Use your best judgment. You don’t want to be performing 20 single reps on a max lift day.
If I am going for a 1 rep max (1RM) for squat and deadlifts, I will:
380×1 (last max -120 pounds)
420×1 (last max -80 pounds)
460×1 (last max -40 pounds)
510 (attempt at new max…if I feel strong, I will go for 525, 535, etc, but I will ALWAYS try to get a new max…if I make it, I will try another attempt with more weight)
520 (if I made the last new 1RM…if I make this one, I will try one last 1 RM)
My squat buildup is the same, although I might do move the increments in the buildup to 30-35 pounds.
For bench, I always try to be a little more cautious. I am not a spring chicken (41), and maxing has to be safe.
285×1 (new max…last was 280)
…if I make that easily, I will bump up 10 pounds…if not so easily 5…if I make that lift, I will throw on another 5 and make a third go at it.