Why Do We Do 1 Rep Maxes?

All this week, we are testing our metal by establishing our benchmarks and revisiting old MetCons and Lifts that we have been working to improve throughout the past 12 weeks!

We do these tests to see how far we have come, what we have to work on, and what we should plan on working on for the next couple months. 

One of the tactics we use to test how well our athletes are doing strength and power wise would be the 1 rep maxes for our heavy lifts. A divisive practice depending on who you ask in the fitness industry, the act of testing our selves to find the most we can lift in terms of weight has a significant amount of benefits that out weighs the negatives, especially when executed with the right mind set!

Why Do We Do The 1 Rep Max (Heavy)?

There are a few benefits that come from testing 1 rep maxes in our community:

  • It is a definitive line in the sand of what we are testing, giving us repeatable data to build a reliable program off of.
    • We could test 5 rep maxes, 10 Rep Maxes, a complex, etc…
      • The problem that we have with those is that some athletes are “Stronger Under The Curve” and can have percentages that just don’t line up with what they need.
  • Weaknesses in each athlete are brought about as we increase loads, allowing us as coaches to determine what each athlete needs to focus on in the next cycle to improve the virtuosity of their lift.
    • These weaknesses can either be in form when we watch lifts OR in the terms of the 10 general physical skills that we base our programming off of!
      • Knees cave in? We don’t go up in weight and realize we have tight hamstring and underdeveloped quads.
      • Clean and Jerk is 65# but the Back Squats is 205#? We know we have a power issue or mobility issue, rather than a strength issue!
  • Testing week provides an environment where athletes can safely push themselves beyond what they thought capable when contained by normal training schedules, meaning we can adjust and bring the adjustments we make up to their level for the next cycle!

What Makes Attempting 1 Rep Maxes Dangerous?

There is very logical reasoning to not having athletes attempt 1 rep maxes.

First, if a 1 rep max is attempted in anything other than a compound movement (a movement that requires 2 joints+ to execute), a single joint can be put under so much stress that injuries can occur! (Just google search preacher curl fails and you’ll see a collection of biceps tearing. Don’t Do It!!)

1 Rep Maxes also have an issue if an athlete is told to “lift as much weight as possible!” rather than “lift as much weight as form allows!”

Since we as humans are so good at listening to directions and executing on them, some of us will actually be able to lift more weight than our muscles can safely adjust for! This puts strain one single joints or compromises structures, like our spine, to start producing sheer force on the joint. Since our joints are weakest at taking sheer force (force that comes across a structure, rather than compressing or pulling on it), the risk for injury dramatically increases once form is lost and the athlete continues to push through to achieve the lift!

How to Approach 1 Rep Maxes Safely!

As you attend classes this week you’ll hear from your coaches say “we are establishing a 1 Rep Max! Only go as high as form allows!” Because, what we are really saying when we want you to achieve a 1 Rep Max, is that we want you to achieve a 1 Rep Heavy!

The difference?

A max implies that you need to lift the most weight your body can take and going in with the mindset that you are gonna sacrifice your body to hit the 200 club is not a safe space to be in! Instead, we want athletes to push themselves, but the second that back arches, knees cave in, or we lose what we know to be safe form. The set is terminated and athletes should not go up until they can perform that weight without compromising their safety!

The other part of testing your lifts safely is to be like your dad at a movie theater, always note the exits!

Part of our training when athletes On-Ramp is to actually learn how to bail out of a lift. Whether it is a snatch or back squat, knowing what your plan is should the lift become compromised is crucial!

The main reason for injury is CrossFit, other than overuse injuries, would be the desire to “Be A Hero!” 

The truth is, unless you are competing at the CrossFit Games for lift changing amounts of money, you should probably let bad lifts bail. Just this morning I had 3 snatches that I would have saved 2 years ago, but knowing that if I tried to save those lifts I was risking an injury, I fell back to my exit plan instead. So, when I felt the barbell just landed a little too forward to stand up without taking a step, I thought better and just acknowledged my form needed to improve for the weight to go up (my arm just pull a little too early)! I’ll catch that PR next time, and I know what I need to work on this next cycle to knock that number out of the park!

The Goal Is To Improve Your Health!

All we want to do at Vegvisir is help you achieve your fitness goals and create life long habits of health. Testing week and the 1 rep maxes that come along are a fantastic way to establish new goals, spot weaknesses, and create an environment where everyone is cheering you on to succeed even more so that our regularly scheduled programming!

Approach your lifts this week with the confidence that you have put in the work on these lifts week after week! Talk with your coaches when you need help and listen to your body with each lift! If you’re grinding through each lift and not feeling awesome, don’t put up weight just because a percentage says so! Your coach can help you find the right action plan for the day and we can always reattempt a max next week if ya want a second chance from a day where the cards just didn’t align for you!

Be smart, be brave, and be a hero to you loved ones (not a barbell)!

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