How Many Reps Can People Really Do at Specific 1RM Percentages? • Stronger by Science



Be aware: This text was the MASS Analysis Evaluation cowl story for December 2023 and is a overview of a recent paper by Nuzzo et al. In order for you extra content material like this, subscribe to MASS.

Key Factors

  1. Researchers performed a meta-regression to quantify the variety of reps that could possibly be carried out at particular percentages of 1RM.
  2. On common, extra reps could possibly be carried out at average masses than beforehand thought. There’s a giant interindividual variation in rep efficiency, and that rep efficiency is exercise-specific.  
  3. This meta-regression offers an essential replace to the loading chart that was constructed within the early Nineties. Share-based coaching using loading charts has typically fallen out of favor, however the updates supplied on this meta-regression might enable for extra correct percentage-based coaching in group settings.

Once I first turned severe in regards to the coaching, I knew all of it. I took each set to failure, ate a billion energy inside seconds of ending a exercise, and made certain coaching was a very powerful a part of my day. I’d additionally use loading charts to program the variety of reps to finish at a selected proportion of 1RM (e.g., 12 reps at 70% of 1RM). If I carried out 10 reps at a selected load, I’d instantly go to the proportion chart and work backwards to find out my new max. These charts had been based mostly on science, I thought, so the programming and 1RM predictions had been correct. Proper? 

Years later, I discovered that these charts had been based mostly on solely a pair research from a single analysis group (2, 3). On reflection, the shortage of scientific rigor related to these charts made sense, as I’d usually full a special variety of reps than the chart advised. Moreover, there’s a giant diploma of inter-individual variation within the variety of reps carried out at a selected proportion of 1RM (4, 5), and rep efficiency can differ inside a person from day after day. We now have autoregulatory instruments, resembling repetitions in reserve (RIR) (6) and velocity-based coaching (7), that present various load prescription choices. Nonetheless, a loading chart can present a good place to begin, which will be useful for a brand new lifter or for a coach who has a ton of athletes and inadequate time or sources to implement velocity-based or RIR-based coaching. Additional, a brand new meta-regression from Nuzzo et al (1) makes use of information from quite a few research to create  an up to date loading chart and quantify the interindividual variation related to its values.

Function and Hypotheses


The presently reviewed meta-analysis had three foremost goals:

  1. Present a complete replace of loading charts to find out, on common, what number of reps will be carried out at particular percentages of 1RM
  2. To look at the diploma of interindividual variation in reps carried out at particular percentages of 1RM
  3. To look at whether or not varied moderators, resembling intercourse, train, and coaching standing influenced reps carried out. 


As is customary in a meta-analysis, the researchers didn’t state a speculation.

Topics and Strategies

On this examine, Nuzzo et al. (1) systematically searched varied databases by February 2023 utilizing particular standards to establish all research addressing their analysis questions. Along with looking out databases, the researchers additionally included research within the evaluation that that they had private information of, even when they didn’t seem within the search. 

Figures and tables by Anna Wilder

The researchers included information from 962 reps-to-failure assessments accomplished by over 7,000 people throughout 92 research. 66% of the topics had been male, 60% had been educated people, 92% had been < 59 years previous, and probably the most generally analyzed workouts had been the bench press (14% of units), leg press (12%), leg extension (11%), and chest press (9%). Moreover, free-weight and Smith machine information for a selected train (e.g., bench press) had been mixed within the evaluation as a result of many research didn’t make clear which was used.

To research the info, researchers created a number of fashions predicting repetitions accomplished based mostly on the relative load used (proportion of 1RM). The end result variable (repetitions accomplished) was log-transformed to enhance the statistical properties of the fashions.. The linear and cubic spline models supplied the very best match for the info. The researchers decided the estimated means, commonplace deviations, and 95% confidence intervals to assemble an up to date loading chart. Additionally they examined whether or not intercourse, age, coaching standing, and train influenced the variety of reps carried out at particular percentages of 1RM. 


Train was the one moderator that appeared to meaningfully have an effect on the findings. Along with offering up to date loading charts for all workouts collectively, additionally they included exercise-specific loading charts for bench press and leg press. The opposite workouts (leg extension and chest press) match higher with the primary loading chart for all workouts.

At most percentages of 1RM, reps carried out had been estimated to be larger than probably the most generally used loading chart. For instance, this evaluation estimated that throughout all workouts, on common, 14.80 reps had been carried out at 70% of 1RM, whereas the broadly used chart means that 12 reps will be carried out at 70% of 1RM. The researchers additionally discovered that interindividual variation in reps was increased as the proportion of 1RM decreased. 

Bench Press Loading Chart

On common, people carried out fewer repetitions on the identical proportion of 1RM on the bench press than on the leg press, and particular person variation tended to be larger at decrease percentages of 1RM. Moreover, the distinction in reps carried out was bigger at every 5% of 1RM increment at decrease masses than at increased masses. For instance, the estimated imply distinction in reps from 40% (40.45 reps) to 45% (33.01 reps) of 1RM was 7.44 reps in comparison with the distinction from 80% (8.82) to 85% (6.23) of 1RM, which was 2.38 reps. Determine 1AB exhibits the log means (cubic spline mannequin) and log commonplace deviations (linear mannequin) for the bench press, and Desk 3 exhibits the bench press loading chart with the estimated means.

Leg Press Loading Chart

People tended to carry out extra reps at a given proportion of 1RM on the leg press than on the bench press. For instance, the estimated imply reps at 70% of 1RM on the leg press was 18.96 in comparison with 14.08 on the bench press. Just like the bench press, particular person variation tended to be larger at decrease percentages of 1RM on the leg press, and the distinction in reps carried out was bigger at every 5% of 1RM increment at decrease masses than at increased masses. Determine 2AB exhibits the log means (cubic spline mannequin) and lengthy commonplace deviations (linear mannequin) for the leg press, and Desk 4 exhibits the leg press loading chart with estimated means.


There are few ideas extra foundational to resistance coaching than understanding the variety of reps that may be carried out at a selected proportion of 1RM. With this in thoughts, it’s fairly wild that we’re simply now updating a loading chart that was printed in a textbook (8) about 30 years in the past with out strong scientific help. This chart is predicated on the outcomes of two research by Hoeger et al. (2, 3). Hoeger et al examined reps per carried out at 40, 60, and 80% of 1RM in each untrained and educated men and women on the leg press, lat-pulldown, bench press, leg extension, sit-up, leg curl, and arm curl. Regardless of this examine’s discovering that reps to failure at particular percentages of 1RM had been exercise-, sex-, and coaching status-specific, the generally used loading chart (8) was put into apply with little rationalization of how the values happened. Moreover, the unique loading chart didn’t reference the interindividual variation of reps carried out (4, 5). Subsequently, this Interpretation will study the current findings, evaluate them to the unique loading chart, and talk about whether or not loading charts and percentage-based coaching nonetheless have a spot regardless of developments in autoregulation.

Findings from Nuzzo et al. (1)

The best approach to study the current findings is to match the newly created loading charts with the unique loading chart from the early Nineties (8). Thus, Desk 5 compares the distinction between the unique loading chart and the findings from Nuzzo et al (1) at each 5% increment from 65% to 100% of 1RM, with reps rounded to the closest entire quantity.

The side-by-side comparability exhibits that the reps allowed at a given proportion of 1RM for the leg press are significantly completely different from the all workouts and bench press tables. In apply, folks typically use the unique loading chart for squats and bench presses, however not for different workouts. It is a good apply, because the chart can be far too conservative to program for leg press. Though Nuzzo et al (1) famous that workouts apart from the bench press and leg press would match effectively with the all-exercises loading chart, I believe it’s because there wasn’t a big sufficient information set on every other train. For instance, Hoeger et al (3) reported that, on the leg curl, educated ladies carried out 5.3 ± 2.6 reps, whereas educated males carried out 7.2 ± 3.1 reps at 80% of 1RM, and each values are significantly completely different than any worth related to 80% of 1RM in Desk 4. 

One other side that this meta-analysis couldn’t totally flesh out was the potential distinction in reps carried out between free-weight and machine-based workouts. The researchers famous that reps from Smith machine squats had been mixed with reps from free-weight squats, and the identical for the bench press as a result of, “many papers didn’t embody data on the tools used, and of these papers that included such data, inadequate information had been accessible to warrant exploration of separate REPS ~ %1RM relationships for Smith machine and barbell workouts.” Though this evaluation couldn’t be performed, there’s some proof that free-weight and Smith machine variations are, on common, related to completely different numbers of reps carried out. As an illustration, Rodriguez-Rosell et al (9MASS Review) discovered that educated males carried out, on common, 9.6 squat reps at 70% of 1RM on the Smith machine squat, whereas Cooke et al (4) reported educated males accomplished 14 reps at 70% of 1RM on the free-weight squat. Furthermore, Rodriguez-Rosell discovered that educated males carried out, on common, 7.7 reps at 80% of 1RM on the Smith machine bench press (9) whereas Hoeger et al (3) reported educated women and men accomplished 12.2 reps at 80% of 1RM on the free-weight bench press. Thus, whereas a proper evaluation of this subject can be excellent, evidently lifters can carry out extra reps on a free-weight squat or bench press than on the Smith machine variant at a given proportion of 1RM.

Most significantly, the current findings spotlight the excessive diploma of interindividual variation within the variety of reps carried out. All three new loading charts reveal two issues:1) there’s a excessive diploma of inter-individual variation within the reps carried out, and a pair of) the variation will increase because the relative load turns into lighter. The traditional Hoeger et al information (3) used to assemble the unique loading chart additionally confirmed that inter-individual variation elevated because the relative load decreased. For instance, Hoeger et al. reported that educated ladies accomplished 22.4 ± 10.7, 57.3 ± 27.9, and 146.1 ± 66.9 reps on the leg press at 80, 60, and 40% of 1RM, respectively. Moreover, though Cooke et al (4) discovered that educated men and women accomplished 14 ± 4 reps to failure at 70% of 1RM on the squat, the vary was 6 – 28. Whereas 6 reps and 28 reps had been the extremes in that examine, throwing out every of these particular person information factors didn’t diminish the diploma of interindividual variation a lot, as six people squatted ≥20 reps, whereas 11 lifters squatted ≤10 reps. It’s essential that coaches and lifters know the diploma to which interindividual variation exists when utilizing a loading chart for coaching prescription, however why it exists continues to be not effectively understood. The presently reviewed meta-analysis didn’t establish any components that might meaningfully clarify this relationship. Earlier information (4) have recognized physique mass as probably having an inverse relationship with the variety of reps carried out; nonetheless, that relationship was non-significant (p = 0.095). As I previously reviewed, Van Vossel et al (10) discovered that people with a larger proportion of kind I muscle fibers tended to carry out extra reps than these with a larger proportion of kind II fibers. Nonetheless, the correlations between fiber kind and reps reported by Van Vossel et al weren’t that robust (r ~ 0.40), making it troublesome to make use of fiber kind as a predictive software for interindividual variation in rep efficiency. Moreover, even when fiber kind was constantly predictive of rep efficiency, it’s not a sensible software to make use of. Finally, the components accounting for interindividual variation stay probably the most urgent questions in train science.

The Place For Share-Primarily based Load Prescription

The restrictions of percentage-based load prescriptions are apparent:

  1. They don’t account for interindividual variation
  2. They don’t account for day after day fluctuations in efficiency
  3. They’re normally based mostly on charts that aren’t exercise-specific
  4. The loading charts are probably incorrect, even on the group stage

I gained’t spend a ton of time hashing out long-winded examples of every of the 4 factors as a result of they’re fairly self-explanatory, so fast explanations ought to suffice. First, with such a big diploma of inter-individual variation in rep efficiency, as confirmed by Nuzzo et al (1), programming based mostly on a loading chart with out particular person issues would result in programming that’s too troublesome or too simple for a lot of. As talked about earlier, Cooke et al (4) discovered that many lifters squatted over 20 reps and others below 10 reps throughout a squat set to failure at 70% of 1RM. The unique loading chart (8) requires 12 reps at 70%, which is inappropriate for a lot of. Second, if somebody was in a position to carry out the precise reps to failure specified by the loading chart (previous or new chart) at a given proportion of 1RM that doesn’t keep in mind particular person charges of fatigue from set to set, the loading chart doesn’t point out what number of reps could possibly be accomplished with the identical load on subsequent units. The fatigue fee is essential as a result of most programming consists of multi-set coaching. As well as, the loading chart doesn’t contemplate that efficiency can fluctuate day after day. Third, as demonstrated within the presently reviewed meta-analysis, loading charts ought to be exercise-specific, no less than for some workouts. Programming the bench press based mostly on a leg press chart would end in most individuals failing on nearly all of their units. Lastly, a loading chart will be incorrect on the group stage. Whereas we are able to really feel a lot better in regards to the newly created charts in Nuzzo et al (1), as extra proof has emerged, evidently the unique loading chart – which was based mostly on actual observations in a gaggle of individuals – was off in a broader sense in some circumstances (see side-by-side comparisons in Desk 4). 

Regardless of my bashing of loading charts up thus far, I nonetheless suppose loading charts and percentage-based prescriptions have a spot in coaching. Certain, velocity-based coaching, and RIR-based coaching are developments, however these prescription strategies even have limitations. For instance, velocity-based prescriptions are sometimes not individualized, which is an identical flaw of loading charts. It’s now well-known that the precise velocity related to a selected proportion of 1RM or RIR is extremely particular person. Subsequently, prescribing group-level velocity loss thresholds will result in a special RIR between people. Additional, prescribing masses based mostly on a selected velocity will produce varied relative intensities throughout people. For instance, 0.70 m/s could also be 70% of 1RM for some, however 77.5% for others. 

A bonus of RIR-based coaching is that it’s inherently individualized, not like group-level loading charts and velocity prescriptions. Nonetheless, the primary limitation of RIR-based prescriptions is that the score is subjective and liable to human error. Whereas people will be very correct (inside 1 rep) when predicting RIR throughout low reps units (<12 reps) and near failure (inside ~3 reps of failure), solely programming RIR presents some challenges. Particularly, some folks discover RIR-based coaching cumbersome and would reasonably have a pre-planned prescription. Moreover, some lifters all the time undershoot RIR. In different phrases, some people nearly all the time find yourself failing when instructed to terminate the set at 1 RIR, or maxing out when they’re alleged to work as much as a single at 1 – 2 RIR. In such circumstances, percentage-based or precise load prescriptions could also be helpful.

Autoregulation is useful a lot of the time, and a few research report that velocity-based (11) or RIR-based coaching (12) results in larger will increase in energy than percentage-based coaching. Nonetheless, different research have proven no vital distinction between velocity- or RIR-based coaching and proportion prescription (13, 14, 15). One cause why percentage-based coaching may maintain up fairly effectively when in comparison with autoregulated coaching is that the percentage-based prescription in some research has been pretty conservative, retaining lifters shy of failure, which might be helpful for energy beneficial properties (16). For instance, in Dr. In Helms’s Ph.D. thesis, lifters educated the squat and bench for 3 × 8 at 72.5% of 1RM, which might be roughly 5 RIR utilizing the bench press loading chart from the presently reviewed meta-analysis (1). Certainly, as Helms et al discovered that topics rated units, on common, principally between 4 – 5 RIR within the percentage-based group with a wider vary of 1-5 RIR within the RIR-based group. Subsequently, whereas percentage-based coaching has flaws, it’s nonetheless a viable choice when used appropriately.

One of many methods to make use of percentage-based coaching appropriately, much like velocity-based coaching, is to individualize it, after which reps will be programmed based mostly on that lifter’s particular person chart. To create a person loading chart, a lifter can carry out a set to failure at a average load (e.g., 70 – 80% of 1RM) after which predict the remainder of the chart. Ideally, the person would carry out failure units for no less than a number of masses on completely different workouts. As soon as these failure units are carried out, and ideally carried out twice over a number of days for reliability, the remainder of the person chart will be extrapolated, for every train, utilizing the slope between change in proportion of 1RM and alter in reps from Nuzzo et al (1). Desk 6 exhibits a person’s hypothetical efficiency throughout units to failure on the bench press and the extrapolated individualized loading chart.

When creating an individualized loading chart, I like to recommend taking a rep or two off the quantity carried out to failure. It’s because the variety of reps somebody performs in a heightened state is just not essentially the variety of reps they’ll carry out on a day after day foundation. For instance, in Desk 5, the person carried out 13 reps at 80% of 1RM; nonetheless, I’d suggest utilizing 11 to correspond to 80%. Moreover, when utilizing this chart to program a number of units, I’d most likely program one thing like 3 × 8 at 80% of 1RM so that every set ends with a number of RIR. Clearly, there’s some extrapolation with individualized charts, and the chart might not be excellent; nonetheless, it’s an enchancment over population-level charts. Moreover, some people don’t have entry to velocity and will not be good at gauging RIR, making particular person loading charts a sensible choice. Additional, rookies and not using a coach want to begin someplace; and will make the most of individualized loading charts. Personally, though I’m an autoregulation proponent, I typically take pleasure in having a pre-planned session the place I don’t have to consider something apart from hitting the numbers on the paper (or the display screen). Moreover, even when utilizing individualized charts, a lifter can gauge the RIR after every set to tell load development selections. 

Extra Ideas

When there are newer instruments resembling autoregulation, we are likely to view older instruments as fully ineffective. Regardless of the failings related to loading charts, they’re removed from ineffective. A population-level chart will be helpful for programming in a big group setting. Clearly, the loading chart is just not correct for everybody on the group, nevertheless it offers a common place to begin. Equally, a loading chart can present a place to begin for a person, after which particular person loading charts will be constructed.

A loading chart-adjacent technique is to program precise masses. For instance, if a coach or lifter is aware of {that a} lifter’s bench press 10RM is 100kg they usually wish to program a number of units shy of failure, they might program 3 × 7 at their 10RM load and anticipate units to land inside 1 – 3 RIR, considering set to set fatigue. This technique is similar to creating a person loading chart; it merely disregards the proportion of 1RM to which the precise load corresponds.

General, varied load prescription methods are legitimate, and also you don’t have to make use of just one. The suitable technique (or methods) is one which the lifter has entry to (if tools is required), matches their persona, and that they are going to adhere to and luxuriate in long run.

Subsequent Steps

There are 3 ways wherein this line of analysis can proceed. First, analysis teams can start diligently reporting the variety of reps related to the proportion of 1RM in varied workouts. Thus, it may be clearly delineated if extra exercise-specific loading charts are required. Second, longitudinal analysis could possibly be performed utilizing the newly constructed charts from Nuzzo et al to find out their efficacy. Lastly, researchers can individualize loading charts and longitudinally evaluate individualized loading chart prescriptions to autoregulated (velocity or RIR) coaching to look at how effectively my principle that individualized charts are a notable enchancment holds up.

Utility and Takeaways

The presently reviewed meta-analysis from Nuzzo et al (1) supplied an essential replace to loading charts. It offers new loading charts and illustrates that reps carried out at a given proportion of 1RM is exercise-specific and extremely particular person. Developments in autoregulation seemingly relegated percentage-based prescriptions to second-tier standing; nonetheless, percentages based mostly on correct loading charts nonetheless present a good place to begin for big group settings and rookies. Furthermore, some lifters might want percentage-based over autoregulated coaching. In that case, loading charts ought to be individualized in order that the proportion prescription is as correct as attainable. Finally, coaches and lifters ought to each be comfy with the load prescription methodology they use, and that methodology ought to be one thing that lifters will adhere to over the long run.

This text was the duvet story for the December 2023 challenge of MASS Analysis Evaluation. If you happen to’d prefer to learn the total, 97-page October challenge (and dive into the MASS archives), you may subscribe to MASS here.

Subscribers get a brand new version of MASS every month. Every challenge consists of analysis overview articles, video shows, and audio summaries. PDF points are normally round 100 pages lengthy.


  1. Nuzzo JL, Pinto MD, Nosaka Ok, Steele J. Maximal number of repetitions at percentages of the one repetition maximum: A meta-regression and moderator analysis of sex, age, training status, and exercise. Sports activities Drugs. 2023 Oct 4:1-9.
  2. Hoeger WWK, Barette SL, Hale DF, Hopkins DR. Relationship between repetitions and selected percentages of one repetition maximum. J Appl Sport Sci Res. 1987;2(1):11–3. 
  3. Hoeger WWK, Hopkins DR, Barette SL, Hale DF. Relationship between repetitions and selected percentages of one repetition maximum: a comparison between untrained and trained males and females. J Appl Sport Sci Res. 1990;4(2):47–54. 
  4. Cooke DM, Haischer MH, Carzoli JP, Bazyler CD, Johnson TK, Varieur R, Zoeller RF, Whitehurst M, Zourdos MC. Body mass and femur length are inversely related to repetitions performed in the back squat in well-trained lifters. The Journal of Power & Conditioning Analysis. 2019 Mar 1;33(3):890-5.
  5. Shimano T, Kraemer WJ, Spiering BA, Volek JS, Hatfield DL, Silvestre R, Vingren JL, Fragala MS, Maresh CM, Fleck SJ, Newton RU. Relationship between the number of repetitions and selected percentages of one repetition maximum in free weight exercises in trained and untrained men. The Journal of Power & Conditioning Analysis. 2006 Nov 1;20(4):819-23.
  6. Zourdos MC, Klemp A, Dolan C, Quiles JM, Schau KA, Jo E, Helms E, Esgro B, Duncan S, Merino SG, Blanco R. Novel resistance training–specific rating of perceived exertion scale measuring repetitions in reserve. The Journal of Power & Conditioning Analysis. 2016 Jan 1;30(1):267-75.
  7. Guerriero A, Varalda C, Piacentini MF. The role of velocity based training in the strength periodization for modern athletes. Journal of Practical Morphology and Kinesiology. 2018 Nov 16;3(4):55.
  8. Baechle TR, Earle RW, editors. Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Human kinetics; 2008.
  9. Rodríguez-Rosell D, Yáñez-García JM, Sánchez-Medina L, Mora-Custodio R, González-Badillo JJ. Relationship between velocity loss and repetitions in reserve in the bench press and back squat exercises. The Journal of Power & Conditioning Analysis. 2020 Sep 1;34(9):2537-47.
  10. Van Vossel Ok, Hardeel J, Van de Casteele F, de Jager S, Lievens E, Boone J, Derave W. Muscle typology influences the number of repetitions to failure during resistance training. European Journal of Sport Science. 2023 Could 13:1-0.
  11. Dorrell HF, Smith MF, Gee TI. Comparison of velocity-based and traditional percentage-based loading methods on maximal strength and power adaptations. The Journal of Power & Conditioning Analysis. 2020 Jan 1;34(1):46-53.
  12. Graham T, Cleather DJ. Autoregulation by “repetitions in reserve” leads to greater improvements in strength over a 12-week training program than fixed loading. The Journal of Power & Conditioning Analysis. 2021 Sep 1;35(9):2451-6.
  13. Banyard HG, Tufano JJ, Weakley JJ, Wu S, Jukic I, Nosaka Ok. Superior changes in jump, sprint, and change-of-direction performance but not maximal strength following 6 weeks of velocity-based training compared with 1-repetition-maximum percentage-based training. Worldwide journal of sports activities physiology and efficiency. 2020 Sep 1;16(2):232-42.
  14. Orange ST, Metcalfe JW, Robinson A, Applegarth MJ, Liefeith A. Effects of in-season velocity-versus percentage-based training in academy rugby league players. Worldwide journal of sports activities physiology and efficiency. 2019 Oct 30;15(4):554-61.
  15. Helms ER, Byrnes RK, Cooke DM, Haischer MH, Carzoli JP, Johnson TK, Cross MR, Cronin JB, Storey AG, Zourdos MC. RPE vs. percentage 1RM loading in periodized programs matched for sets and repetitions. Frontiers in physiology. 2018 Mar 21;9:247.
  16. Carroll KM, Bernards JR, Bazyler CD, Taber CB, Stuart CA, DeWeese BH, Sato Ok, Stone MH. Divergent performance outcomes following resistance training using repetition maximums or relative intensity. Worldwide journal of sports activities physiology and efficiency. 2019 Jan 1;14(1):46-54.


Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here