Saturday, March 22, 2008

1 Rep Max

1 Rep Max -- that's a common term in body building, so I'm learning. I don't see myself as a body builder by any means. If anything, I lift weights to be strong enough to hold yoga poses better. And I really enjoy lifting weights. So it's a win win for me.

I'm taking it all to "the next level" with a periodization rotation starting on Monday. Cathe Friedrich says that every personal trainer she knows uses periodization with their clients. So it sounds like it must be a good way to progress with fitness. I'm excited to try it.

In order to challenge yourself, you're supposed to calculate your 1 Rep Max which is the weight that challenges your body to just lift once (yet is possible). Instead of picking up really heavy weights that could injure you to try for one repetition, they have you pick a weight that you can lift 10 times that makes you struggle with the final few reps and maybe even stop a rep short. If you can lift easily the whole 10 reps or can even go a few more reps past the 10, it's not heavy enough. If you can't control your form because you're struggling too much, that's too heavy.

Once you get this figure for how heavy you can lift & be challenged with 10 reps, you can use one of three formulas found on Wikipedia to calculate your 1 rep max. There are online calculators that can compute it for you. This one in particular gives a slightly different figure depending on the weight lifting exercise you've done. The best I've found not only shows you the 1 rep max, but also the weight range for lifting for different periodization mesocylces -- muscle endurance (60-70% of 1 rep max), muscle conditioning (70-80% of 1 rep max), and muscle strengthening (80-90% of 1 rep max). I hope I haven't bored you to tears with this, but I'm just learning about it and it's pretty fun to see that there's truly a scientific approach to exercise here (that includes my past love -- math!)

I computed my 1 rep max today for quite a few exercises (all I could think of that are pretty standard for weight workouts).

Here's what I tested. I'll list the barbell poundage first:

Barbell Weight
Squats: 40#
Plie' Squats: 40#
Deadlifts: 40#
Dead Rows: 40#
Leg Press: 30#
Static Lunges: 30#
Chest Press: 40#
Upright Rows: 30#
Overhead Press: 30#
Close Grip Press: 35#
Bicep Curls: 30#

Dumbbell Weight
Rotators: 12#
Crazy Eights: 12#
Hammer Curls: 15#
Tricep Kickbacks: 10#
French Press: 20#
Lateral Raise: 12#
Chest Flies: 15#
Lat Rows: 24#
Rear Delt Raise: 15#
Front Raise*: 7#
Side Raise**: 8#
Lying overhead: 15#
One-arm Triceps: 10#

* I put 7# for this because 8 was just too much by rep 9, but I knew 5#s would be too light

**I'm not sure if my terminology is correct, but I differentiate the lat raise and the side raise with the lat raise having bent arms and side raises as straight arm.

I rarely lift as heavy as Cathe and her cast do in their workouts. I probably go lighter than I could do most of the time and was surprised that I was able to lift as heavy as I did.

Here's what I came up with after calculating the 1 rep max:

40# = 53
35# = 47
30# = 40
24# = 32
20# = 27
15# = 20
12# = 16
10# = 13
8# = 11
7# = 9
5# = 7

So what does this all mean? Here's the fun part because it's really not as complicated as it looks. I thought I'd have to make a chart (which I believe Cathe is going to include with the software for her Shock Training System when it's released), show the weight limits to use for each exercise for each Mesocycle. But I'm seeing with my mathematical eyes that all you do is use the weight you could lift for 10 for the second Mesocycle (or Conditioning workouts w/8-12 reps), go a few pounds lighter for the first Mesocycle (or Endurance workouts w/12-15 reps), and a little heavier for the third Mesocycle (or Strengthening/Building workouts w/ 4-8 reps). The difference between the mesocycle weight differences grow as the weight gets higher, but I think it will be pretty easy to eyeball after awhile.

Let me just leave you with a final example -- if I was able to lift 10 reps with a 10 pound dumbbell, my 1 rep max would be 13 pounds, which is helpful to know what not to lift beyond (or to use for computing the 3 differing mesocycle weights). But if I just eyeball it, I saw the Conditioning workout weight would just be close to the original 10# figure (the calculator said 9-10). The Endurance workout weight would be a little less -- I'd use an 8 pound weight (the calculator said 7-8). And for the Strengthening workout, I'd go a little heavier and use a 12 pound weight (the calculator said 10-12). If the starting weight was a 40 pound barbell, those increments would be greater -- 5 pound ranges within each Mesocycle instead of 2 pounds with the 10 pound weight.

Hope that's easy for you to understand. I'm sure there's a lot of information on this in books and on the internet, but since it's finally clicking for me, I thought I'd share just how it does. I'll let you know how I do next week. I'm sure I'll be sore. I haven't worked out with weights in a couple of weeks!

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