I heart one rep max day

I know a good training program is not all one rep maxes all the time. But nothing makes my heart flutter like going all out for one rep.

I got an email from my training partner this afternoon that said the workout included a 1 rep max  low box squat and a max weighted push-up (something I’d never tried). And pull-ups!  In the middle of a dreary workday that message perked me up better than a double espresso. I switched my music to my lifting playlist, sat up in my chair and grinned like a madwoman at the thought of my workout ahead. And having been off for three days I was really raring to go.

We’re experimenting with how my painful knee reacts to volume vs load, so after testing volume on Saturday,  and finding it hurt during and after training, today we went with single reps on the 12-inch box and big jumps in weight, with long rests in between. I never count the weight but finally had to ask Ben, “is this heavy? Because it feels heavy!”

“It’s really heavy,” he said, to my great satisfaction. I’d felt like I was tipping forward as I came up on that one, so he said to take a deeper breath next time.

I studiously kept my eyes away from the bar so I wouldn’t try to tally up the number, and waited till it was time. As heavy as the last one was, I thought this one would be it. I practiced big breaths and pushing against my belt. After a lifetime of sucking my stomach in, I’m still getting used to pushing it out.  Then it was time.

I gripped the bar hard, heaved it off the rack like I meant it, and stepped carefully back. Big breath and down, brush the box. “Knees!” I think Ben yelled, but I don’t remember. Up I pushed, and slowly grunted my way up, forcing my knees out, and fighting the gravity that sought to pull the barbell back down. And then I was up, triumphant. “That’s it,” Ben said.

I couldn’t even pretend to be nonchalant. “How much was it?” I demanded, before I even took off my belt. It was 190.  I’ve done 190, but only to barely parallel. Ben had me sit back on the box to test. This was competition depth. This was something to be proud of. Then, “you kept good form all the way,” he said. I do try to act nonchalant when I hear praise, but it’s so the cherry on top of getting a heavy weight that it’s hard not to grin.

More fun was in store — single leg box squats, and then on to a test: how much weight could I put on my back and do a push-up? Turns out not so much. 35 pounds I squeaked out, but I made it maybe halfway up with the next weight, but no matter how hard I pushed it wasn’t moving. Ben showed me the plate he’d added after I collapsed, laughing.  It was 2 1/2 pounds. That tiny little plate meant the difference in making it or not. I got to do pull-ups after doing 3 sets of 10 push-ups – two max sets.  I didn’t have much left after the weighted push-ups, but always love pull-ups, and felt pretty good to get two sets of four.

Every training session is good, every workout gets me stronger and better. But some, like today, are also flat-out fun. I’m loving my current program that has some kind of max effort every time, but my heart will always belong to 1 rep max day.

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2 thoughts on “I heart one rep max day

  1. Love 1RM day most of the time…but last time we maxed out squats just wasn’t a good lifting day for me. (No sleep, lousy nutrition, too much stress…perfect storm of awful.) And then I have to wait another month before I can test it again! Combine that with linear strength gains, and…well, that’s why I tend to list/know my 2/3/5RM instead!

  2. Oh no, that’s the worst when you miss out on having a goof 1RM day! I hadn’t done much 2/3/4RM before this current program, and I’m liking it better than percentages because it’s what I can do *that* day. Plus I like to try to calculate – let’s see, if I can pull 180, for 3 surely I have a 200 deadlift!

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