The 1-rep max. It’s sexy. It can be elusive. And way too much emphasis is put on it in the fitness space.
Unless you’re a weightlifting competitor or a CrossFit Games-caliber athlete in competition, you don’t need to establish a 1-rep max. Now, that doesn’t mean the same thing as “work to a heavy single,” but chasing 1-rep PRs can lead to injury and disappointment.
Peruse Facebook and Instagram and you’ll often see regular Joes (and Jills) posting PRs. Many of them look horrible and their physical structures aren’t built for the load. Think about it…if your shoulder position isn’t desirable, why would you stress it with a maximal load overhead? If your squat pattern is off, why would you crush yourself with more weight than would allow you to squat well? If you sit all day and/or have lower back issues, why the heck would you want to struggle to pull two times your body weight off the floor in a deadlift?
The 1-RM, in reality, doesn’t transfer to real life. What’s more desirable, in our opinion, is to repeatedly move moderately-heavy to heavy weight with proper movement mechanics, without breaking down (aka getting ugly). The person who maintains their positions always impresses us more than the one who yanks up heavier weights, faster, but with horrible technique. “Look good, feel good” applies here.
Our role as coaches is to help you make progress while also keeping you safe. If you hurt yourself, you aren’t able to work out. You develop fear. That’s why you don’t see us programming or pushing for PRs. However, with our programming, you fine-tune your movement and get comfortable at certain percentages, so in reality your 60% eventually becomes your 50%; your 80% is soon too light…you are getting stronger!