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What Does Percentage Of One Rep Max Mean?

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What does it mean when a workout calls for you to lift at a certain percentage of your one rep max (also listed as 1RM)? Let’s take a look…

Your one rep max is the most weight you can perform on any given lift for ONLY a single rep. A one rep max is generally referenced for:

  • Bench Press
  • Squats
  • Deadlift
  • Military Press
  • Barbell Row

For example, you may be able to lift 180 pounds on the bench press, or 250 pounds for squats for a single rep. This is your one rep max. Many workouts will recommend that you use a percentage of your one rep max. The statement might look something like this:

Use 60% of your one rep max on the bench press for 5 reps.

“60% of your one rep max” means that for this set you should be using 60% of the most you could lift for a single rep. If your bench press one rep max is 180 pounds, you multiply 60% times 180 pounds and get:

60% times 180 pounds = 108 pounds.

More Examples

Here are more examples, this time using a lifter who has a 200 pound bench press one rep max.

  • 90% for 1 rep – 90% of your one rep max (200 pounds) would require you to lift 180 pounds for one rep.
  • 80% for 3 reps - 80% of your one rep max (200 pounds) would require you to lift 160 pounds for three reps.
  • 50% for 10 reps – 50% of your one rep max (200 pounds) would require you to lift 100 pounds for ten reps.

Still confused? Please visit the Muscle and Brawn Forum.

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