Maxing out too often?

Are you maxing too often?

Constantly testing your 1 rep max is a pitfall myself and many other people have fallen into. I remember hitting a max squat every week for about a year. I made zero progress and had no idea why. Looking back, I’m honestly amazed I didn’t pick up an injury.

Maxing is fun. I get it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t help you get ahead at all.

I believe ‘Powerlifting training’ works for people often because they have set numbers to hit. They have numbers based off of their 1RM’s to hit for particular days and this is a tool which can force you to keep progressing. Good bodybuilders and other sports do this too but it’s less common as our whole sport is based on hitting these maxes.

So, 1RM testing can give you an indication of how you are progressing and allows you to implement the correct training percentages for each main lift as you go from training block to training block. Keeping your training honest and focused on your goals.

Testing your maxes won’t make you a stronger lifter. It will make you better at hitting a max single rep, which is great because that’s what we do in competition, but we have to really think about when we do this.

For example, we have tested your 1RMs after completing a hypertrophy phase. These numbers aren't going to be very informative due to the higher fatigue as we focus on new muscle growth. Do we take a week or 2 to deload, hit our max, then deload again after? Near 3 weeks out of training to test your true max doesn't seem very logical to me?

As testing does add fatigue which can interfere with other training sessions in the following weeks. The nervous system responds differently throughout each phase so it's vital we test our maxes after completing a peaking phase and sufficient deload to avoid the risk of injury. The more times you test your max attempts the more times you're putting yourself at risk of getting hurt.

Some alternatives to maxing at the end of a hypertrophy phase would be to hit an AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) set using the working weights you have built up. If you were previously squatting 150kg for 6 reps and can now AMRAP 8, this is progress and an indication of how your training is going. Remember this AMRAP work is also going to build big fatigue itself, so take that into consideration also.

To sum up, try to keep testing specific 1RM for competitions or a well-timed peak. Testing your 1rm is probably setting you back and keeping you from reaching those PBs. Think long term.


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