I have below a One Rep Max Chart along with information so you can learn what a 1 rep max chart is, why it’s useful, and how to read the chart.
What is a One Rep Max Chart?
A 1 Rep Max Chart gives you a rough estimate of the number of reps and the amount of weight that corresponds to the maximum amount of weight that you can lift. The chart works by assuming that the number of reps you can lift a certain weight can be predicted using mathematical relationships.
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Why Is A One Rep Max Chart Useful?
One of the most frequent frustrations guys express to me is having no idea how much weight they can lift for a given number of repetitions.
So for example, if you can bench 175lb for 10 reps, then what should you try to bench if you are shooting for 6 reps?
Using a 1 Rep Max Chart is an effective way to make the process of calculating the amount of weight you should be using for a given number of reps more methodical.
In addition, if you are curious how much weight you can lift for only one rep (your max lift), instead of putting yourself at risk for serious injury, you can shoot for 6 reps then use a 1 rep chart to estimate your 1 rep max. No need to put yourself in the hospital attempting to lift weight that’s too heavy.
This 1 rep max chart is not perfect because (1) some exercises may correspond better to the chart then others and (2) your strength and endurance levels can effect the number of reps you complete for a given amount of weight that may be above, or below the amount predicted.
Overall, the 1RM chart is a great guideline to help you increase your weights over time to properly progress your workouts.
In fact, when I was a college athlete, all of our strength training programs were based on our 1RM for a given lift, which we figured out by completing 6 reps with all of the basic lifts (squat, bench etc.).
Most advanced strength programs for athletes are based on 1RM and build in progressions so that the workout program forces strength increases over time. Reps for a given workout can vary dramatically from 15 reps to as low as 2, or 3 reps, but this is the extreme.
How To Read The One Rep Max Chart
The left hand column has the 1 rep max whereas the numbers in the right hand columns represent how much weight can be lifted for the specified number of reps (reps are listed in the top row).
For example, find the 135lb max on the left, the scroll across the columns. If you can lift 99lb for 12 reps, that corresponds to roughly a 135lb max. A lift of 119lb for 4 reps also corresponds to a 135lb max.
The chart above uses the Brzycki Formula after its creator, Matt Brzycki, but is still very close to the “old school” strength chart based on percentages, which is still commonly used. The percentage chart is based on a linear relationship such that 10 reps corresponds to 75% of your max.
Every 1 rep change corresponds to +/- 2.5% change in the amount of weight that can be lifted. For example, 10 reps of 135lb (75% of max lift) corresponds to a 180lb max and 6 reps of 135lb (85% of max lift) is a 158lb max.
I encourage you to test this chart out and see how it corresponds to your actual lifts.
Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment.
Cool, that thing is pretty dead on… I usually do 185 for 5 reps, my max is 215..
Is there any difference in results between a workout of less reps with more weights vs a workout of more reps with less weights?
@Peter – there is a huge difference. One of our contributors Kevin Deeth is working on an article, which discusses the difference between high reps vs. low reps. In short, low reps (1-6) are good for increasing neuromuscular strength, 8-12 for hypertrophy (or creating a stimulus for the muscle to grow), and above 12 using lighter weights helps muscular endurance. These last two ranges are not set in stone, but are good guidelines to follow. I don’t go much below 6 reps anymore, because I just don’t think it’s necessary and the risk/reward ratio is not compelling, but I would say somewhere between 8-15 is the sweet spot where I would recommend you do most of your workouts.
Very helpful Marc! I’m in my mid-30s and weigh 110lb with a waist of 29in. I’ve always found it difficult to bulk up due to my high metabolism and I’ve always been unsure about how many weights I should be lifting. The only free weights I’ve been using for a few years now have plates up to 18kg (40lb) while the barbell pole weighs about 7kg (15lb). In all it’d be about 25kg (55lb) I’m lifting. So I tested myself doing a bench press and couldn’t much lift after 29-30 reps. According to this chart then my 1RM is about 110lb, which I reckon is fairly accurate having checked some online calculators that allowed beyond 20 reps for calculation. So thanks again for your excellent research and advice!
@Shane – Thanks!
What is a good guide to follow regarding knowing when it’s time to recalculate your 1 rep max. Some people say that if you can do more than 10 reps with 80% of your 1 rep max it’s time to recalculate. Does that mean once you can do more than 10 reps with 80% for 1 set or multiple sets ( 3).? Thanks
@Gene – 1 set, your first set.
How many sets should you be able to do at certain reps and percentages? Example: Should you be able to squat 4×5 at 85% or are you only supposed to be able to do one set of five at 85%?
@Tyler – That’s a great question and the answer requires a little bit of explaining. Using a one rep max chart, 85% is equivalent to 6 reps. Let’s say you can bench 225lb for 6 reps, so your max is roughly 270lb. It is not expected that you can do 225lb of 6 reps, rest 1 minute, then do another for 6 reps. You’ll probably get somewhere around 2-3 reps. Typically, it takes 5 minutes of rest in between sets to recover to max, or near max strength. That’s why powerlifters take such long breaks in between their lifts. The topic of rest between sets is easily worthy of a separate post, so I’ll make sure to write one.
I’m assuming you don’t want to be a powerlifter, but do want to get strong and fit. With this in mind, you have a couple primary options if you are concerned about lifting hard and heavy. First, keeping with the above example, you choose 210lb and complete 5 sets of 5 reps with maybe 2-3 minutes rest between sets. See if you get all 5 reps on all 5 sets. If you do, you can increase the weight. This is classic 5×5 training. Second, you can use a pyramid structure where you start out with let’s say 205lb, get 10 reps, then increase the weight and decrease the reps. By the time you get to 225lb, you may only get 3-4 reps. How much weight you can lift depends on a number of factors, with rest between sets being a very significant factor. Hope this is helpful!
I got a quick question for someone,because the chart is a little confusing for me.If I weigh 240,and am able to do 195 pounds 5 sets of 10 reps in 45 minutes,then what would my max be..?I’m unsure..I need a clarification,and extremely curious,since one mans 1 RM was 270 according to the comment.
@shanediddy – I think the confusion is from the idea that your 1 rep max is your MAX EFFORT for a certain number of reps. So instead of doing 195lb for 5 sets for 10 reps, my guess is you could do 195lb for a max effort of 13-14 reps. Then you take the 195lb and the 13 reps, apply it to the chart, and you get a rough estimate of your one rep max.