The Infamous Russian Sports Scientists Vladimir Zatsiorsky classified max strength training (the maximum effort method) as working above 90% of your 1 rep max (1RM) – I personally classify max strength as anything above 85%, but maybe I am not as hardcore as the Russian lifters!

It is well established that lifting maximal loads elicits the greatest strength increases. However, there is, of course, a risk of overtraining and injury when pushing things to the limit regularly.

I know many lifters that work above 85% multiple times a week, every week, and others that incorporate max effort lifts every 3rd week followed by a week-long deload.

For example, a common strength protocol I use looks like this (percentages are for the main lifts – program 2-4 assistance exercises on each day):

3 Sessions per week:

Day 1: Bilateral Squat & Single-Leg (Lower Push)

Day 2: Bench/Overhead Press (Upper Push)

Day 3: Deadlift & Rows (Lower Pull & Upper Pull)

1RMs are tested at the start of the 12-week program and at week 11.

Note: At the start of the program, 1RMs can be estimated from 5RMs: 5RM x 1.15 (add 15%) if the lifter is not ready at that time to perform a 1RM.

1st Phase:

W1: 4×8 at 70%

W2: 5×5 at 75%

W3: 3×3 at 85%

W4: 4×10 at 65%

2nd Phase:

W5: 4×8 at 75%

W6: 5×4 at 80-85%

W7: 2×2 at 90%

W8: 4×10 at 70%

3rd Phase:

W9: 4×6 at 80-85%

W10: 5×3 at 90%

W11: Test 1RM

W12: 4×10 at 75%

How often do you lift maximally and test your 1RMs?


Jason Curtis

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