Successfully Completing a 1 Rep Max

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Completing a 1 Rep Max

This week at WildFire CrossFit we are going to keep the bell ringing with 2 different 1 Rep Max Lifts, the Back Squat, and the Shoulder Press.  

Testing your 1 Rep Max is important because it challenges you to get stronger and be better. Getting a personal record is exciting and there’s a well-deserved sense of satisfaction that comes with it. Going heavy is an important part of getting stronger because it releases hormones such as testosterone and HGH which will support and promote muscle growth. So, whether you enjoy heavy lifting or not, there is a huge benefit to incorporating it into your training.

Whether you know your current Max in these lifts and are looking forward to adding to the number or you have no idea what your Max is, here are a few tips to help you get the best result possible. In both cases, remember to be smart, be safe, and use good form and technique.

The first thing is to have a goal in mind, especially if you know your previous Max and even write it down. Thoughts are things and being aware and mindful of that goal is going to help you get there. Even if you have no clue what your Max is, look at scores than have been posted to get an idea of what’s possible and then go for it!

Make sure you are warmed up. Yes, we will be doing a warmup in class to get you ready, I’m talking about warming up your lift and working up to your Max. Start with a much lower percentage for a couple of sets of 5 and 3 before going to your 1 to get your muscles warm and ready for the heavy weight. This will also help you dial in the best form possible and create muscle memory for your Max.

Be sure to rest between sets, even taking a seat for a minute or two. Sitting between lifts is going to help you get better rest and restore oxygen to your blood giving you more energy for that next set. There is such a thing as too much rest, so don’t overdo it, 2-3 minutes will do the trick.

When you get to your singles, be sure to have a spotter there, particularly for the back squat, to help you safely get out of the lift if you need to. Even if you know how to properly dump the barbell, having people on either side of the barbell is the safest method for ditching the weight.  

And now, for the lift itself…

When stepping up to the bar, you need to be ready to go. Get your adrenaline up by taking a few deep breaths and focusing on your objective. For most lifters, this a ritual that is almost identical every time they step up to the bar. Whatever helps you get yourself ready. A foot stomp, a battle cry, a short prayer, or even a few slaps to the face, whatever it is that helps you get pumped up for the task at hand, do it!

Visualize yourself completing the lift. Many of the best athletes in the world visualize themselves performing before they do it. A basketball player making a shot, a wide receiver catching a pass, a powerlifter completing a lift are all examples. Visualizing yourself successfully completing your lift is going to help you focus and get you in the right headspace to successfully complete your lift. Keep your thoughts positive and continue to focus on your objective.  

Breathe. Be sure to breathe during your lift so you don’t pass out. In the back squat, once you have the bar on your back, wait until just before you are squatting to take that last deep breath and hold it until you are standing up again. In the Shoulder Press, it’s going to be just before you start pushing that bar overhead. Practice the same breathing pattern for all your sets so when you get to your Max, you have it down.

Keep your core tight throughout your lift. Before you take that last deep breath, tighten your core. This will help compress everything and keep your back tight through the lift. This is going to help you lift more weight and keep you safe. Even if you are using a weight belt, you need to keep your core tight to press against the belt, giving you even more stability.

And finally, remember that you can’t get a true 1 Rep Max without failing at least once. Think about it, how do you know you couldn’t add a few more pounds unless you go for it. So, GO FOR IT! Now, you may get to a point where you decide it’s heavy enough and that you don’t feel safe adding more weight, and that’s totally fine. As you gain experience lifting heavy weight and dial in your form, your confidence will grow, and you will feel more comfortable adding those few pounds that make that PR bell ring!

Use these tips to make the most out of these Max days because they don’t come around very often. Have FUN, be sure to cheer on your fellow athlete too. That energy will come back to you when it’s your turn to lift. Remember, you CAN do it! Make it happen and you will be stronger and all-around better for it!




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