Over the years I have come to the realisation that going heavy all the time and trying to max out on a weekly basis is just not the optimal way for increasing your 1RM in the long run.

Egotistical lifting is something that I am no stranger too and I can bet that the majority of you reading this aren’t either. The fact is if you go into the gym every week to ‘test’ your strength, in the hope that you can tell your friends on the weekend, that you set a new Bench Press PR, then your going to learn very quickly that this just doesn’t work.

THE PROBLEM WITH MAXING OUT TO OFTEN

Maxing out every week causes a huge amount of stress on the body, your CNS (central nervous system) will be constantly burnt out and your joints are going to take a beating. This will lead to overtraining and potential injuries.

Another problem with going too heavy is that it doesn’t allow you to execute the movements with optimal form, as your constantly grinding to force out maximal weights therefore you may not be utilising optimal leverages and strengthening the correct muscles.

THE SOLUTION

The best way to ensure long-term strength gains is to build strength in the higher rep ranges i.e. 6 to 12 reps and peak towards a max effort 1RM test day.

The benefit of doing this is the lighter weight will allow you to practice correct form, and work on building strength in the right muscles. For example in the squat, keeping the weight on the legs and quads rather than passing it to the posterior chain and practically doing a Good Morning to get the weight up.

Look to set PR’s at different rep ranges for example a 10 rep max, or you can look to set a max rep PR at a certain weight (i.e 80% of your max).

I recommend tapering your rep ranges down to a 1RM no sooner than every 4 weeks, this will allow for enough time to build strength adequately before re-testing your 1RM.

Once you’ve set a new 1RM you can bring the reps back up and base your percentages off your new max. For example in week 1 you used 70% which was 160kg, now 70% of your new 1RM is 175kg.

example

Below is an example of how you can set up your loads (% of 1RM) and rep ranges on a 5 week cycle, the idea is that your able to keep your form tight and allow your body to adjust to the weight and build up your strength as you work towards peaking in week 5.

Week 1: 70 – 75% 8 – 10 reps

Week 2: 75 – 80% 6 – 8 reps

Week 3: 80 – 90% 4 – 6 reps

Week 4: 90 – 95% 3 2 – 3 reps

Week 5: 1RM test week