Remember when it WAS pc to talk about your maximum bench press or squat? Ah, the good ‘ole days! Today, the topic brings puzzlement or disgust, from either unfamiliarity or fear you will next strip down to your circa 1980 coaching shorts or leg warmers.
In contemporary fitness, the 1-repetition maximum lift (1-rm) faces extinction given the creation of various iterations of circuit training, and the evolution of weight machines that push free weights to the nether regions of the gym, rendering them prehistoric, almost museum-like in their (dusty) display.
1-rm’s, where it’s you versus a bar loaded with as much iron as a muscle group can successfully push or pull one time, are strength metrics. They are the epitome of isolated, one-dimensional down/up or up/down moves that make contemporary fitness-ists cringe, for there is nothing functional, integrated, or core about them.
Here though is a reminder of how valuable, powerful, if you will, 1-rm’s are to your exercise program, both for their contribution to your overall fitness and impact they have on your motivation.
Muscular development requires tasking your muscles with work that exceeds normal capacity. Called overload, muscles respond by calling in reinforcements to get the job done which results in enhanced fibers, meaning strength or endurance increases. Just as there are different types of strength training routines, there are also different types of overload. Adding 1-rm’s to your routine is a different type of overload than what your routine elicits. Different is good for how it stimulates a unique muscular response that leads to strength, endurance and/or power gains that otherwise wouldn’t be tapped.
1-rm’s gift to motivation lies in the simple objectivity of tracking strength gains. Last month’s 100lb bench press pales compared to this month’s 120lb bench press. Not only do we benefit from this aspect of improved fitness, our motivation strengthens from realizing the achievement.
1-rm’s may be down with contemporary fitness trending away from them, but never count them out. Let the old become new again for they can make a serious contribution to your fitness and exercise motivation.