By: Brian Betancourt
Edited By: Rebecca Raskin
Strength is one of the fundamental stepping stones that holds all other aspects of function together. You want to move stuff? Get stronger. You want to run farther, faster? Get stronger. Heck, you want to be more efficient? Get stronger. So how do we get stronger? Or a better question, is how do we get stronger more efficiently? Before we can answer those questions, we need to be able to ascertain the appropriate load for optimal strength gain. You can find out what is appropriate by assessing yourself, or if you are coaching someone, by evaluating them using a 1 Rep Max (RM), 5 RM, or 10 RM test.
Here is a handy 5 Rep Max Protocol. Use this after you have completed any movement prep that is needed.
*Remember that this is a 5 rep max attempt, try not to let your client or athlete waste energy on attempts that can be easily performed. You might want to instruct them to re-rack if they feel like they can perform more than five. Or, to rep out if they can only perform 5 or less.
After following the protocol, you can use this table to calculate their 1 RM.
The way you create a program for you or your client is dependent on the training age. So, for novice lifters play with 82-85% of 1 RM and use 2-3 sets. Just have them rep out on the third set to failure. For an intermediate lifter, 3 sets of 3-5 reps can do the trick. We are assuming this is a true intermediate lifter: someone who is working at 85-87% of 1 RM and needs about 2-3 minutes to recover between sets. For an advanced lifter, we will be working with various rep and set ranges. 5 x 5 and 3 x 6 are used, amongst other adjustments to the volume. These adjustments will be needed to push some strength gains. Rests will be long. In the next article Doctor Novo and I will talk about how to use two different forms of periodization to optimally improve strength gains in your client, so stay tuned.
Warpeha, J. M. (2007). In The Gym Strength Testing. NSCA’s Performance Training Journal, 6(1), 6–8.