RealFighting

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, part II: TESTING THE ONE REP MAX (1RM)


Introduction / Recap

In part I of The Realfighting Minimum for Strength & Conditioning, I introduced several concepts. The overarching theme is that relative strength and maximal strength are the only factors truly important to test to predict one’s ability to survive or prevail during a real attack.

I then went on to define the terms relative strength and maximal strength, anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, and the difference between the power and the capacity of an energy system.

Finally, I laid forth a number of exercises for the upper and lower body that, tested together, would give a decent general indication of fight-readiness. The minimum satisfactory results were posted as well. For a further recap of any of these points, please refer to Part I of this article.

At this point, we will discuss the testing procedures in detail.

1RM (One Repetition Maximum) Testing
The one rep max test is an excellent test to determine relative and maximal strength. After a suitable warm-up, the subject performs the given lift in successively heavier single efforts until they find the heaviest weight that they can lift with proper technique for that day.

You can theoretically perform 1RM testing on any lift, but in general, you should stick to lifts that fit the following requirements:

   •    The success or failure of the lift is easy to ascertain.
   •    The exercise technique can be standardized enough so that individual differences in               anatomy are minimized.
   •    The exercises tested should have a high degree of transfer to the activity you wish to             excel in 

The first exercise in any 1RM test is called the reference lift. As the name implies, it is the exercise, or lift, that all the other movements will be based on. You can pair the reference lift with another exercise, as long as the second movement works antagonistic muscle groups. For the purposes of the Realfighting strength test, I chose exercises that most closely simulate the abilities called for in fighting –

   •    kicking (Back Squat)
   •    punching/striking/pushing (bench press)
   •    choking/grappling (reverse curl)

In the event that the squat is too complicated, the Petersen step up and a form of split squat may be tested. I then chose two accessory lifts for the upper body to give an overall view of muscular balance. For the curious individual, all three lower body lifts may be tested to give the same kind of information about structural integrity of the lower body.

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, part II: TESTING THE ONE REP MAX (1RM) page 2


1RM Testing Procedures for the Principle Lifts – Day 1: Lower Body
To illustrate how to correctly perform the 1RM test, review the following chart. After setting up your exercise station for the Back Squat, perform successive sets in the following manner:

Set 1: Approximately 40% of your 1RM x 4 reps on a 4010 tempo

Set 2: Approximately 50% of your 1RM x 4 reps on a 4010 tempo

Set 3: Approximately 60% of your 1RM x 2 reps on a 4010 tempo, rest 90 seconds (s)

Set 4: Approximately 70% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 5: Approximately 75% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 6: Approximately 80% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 7: Approximately 85% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 150s

Set 8: Approximately 90% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 150s

Set 9: Approximately 95% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 180s

Set 10: Approximately 97 ½ % of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 240s

Set 11: Approximately 100% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 240s.

Assuming that your initial guess of your 1RM is pretty accurate, you may not need all eight single attempts to find your maximum ability for that day unless your central nervous system is really advanced. If you have never trained before in your life, or have not trained recently, you can assume that your central nervous system will not be very advanced. If that is the case, you should train with a qualified coach for a period of 12 weeks to prepare your central nervous system to express a true one rep max. You are now done for the day; time to go home.

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, part II: TESTING THE ONE REP MAX (1RM) page 3


Notes on Testing the Lower Body
The lower body tests vary depending on skill level. Assuming you can perform a back squat perfectly, and have no knee, hip, or back problems, then use the same 1RM protocol listed above for testing the squat. Keep in mind that the squat tested is very specific in nature. If you can’t do it correctly, do not test it.

If you elect not to test the Back Squat, you will need to test the two accessory leg movements – the Barbell Petersen Step up, and the Barbell Back Split Squat. Use the following methodology:

   •    Day 1: test the upper body lifts using the protocol described on the next page
   •    Day 2: test the lower body lifts as below

Barbell Petersen Step Up
Determine your test weight: 74% of your 1RM in the bench press.

Warm up with your own body weight for 6 reps.

Increase the weight to 50% of your test weight; perform 4 reps.

Increase the weight to 75% of your test weight; perform 2 reps.

Increase the weight to 90% of test weight; perform another 2 reps. Rest 90s.

Load the bar to 74% of your 1RM in the bench press. Perform 8 reps with each leg. Rest 120s.

Barbell Back Split Squat
Determine your test weight: 74% of your 1RM in the bench press.

Follow the same protocol as for the Barbell Petersen Step up.

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, part II: TESTING THE ONE REP MAX (1RM) page 4

1RM Testing Procedures for the Principle Lifts – Day 2: Upper Body
To illustrate how to correctly perform the 1RM test, review the following chart. After setting up your exercise stations for the Close Grip Bench Press and the Reverse Curl, perform successive alternating sets in the following manner:

Set 1: Approximately 40% of your 1RM x 4 reps on a 4010 tempo

Set 2: Approximately 50% of your 1RM x 4 reps on a 4010 tempo

Set 3: Approximately 60% of your 1RM x 2 reps on a 4010 tempo, rest 90 seconds (s)

Set 4: Approximately 70% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 5: Approximately 75% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 6: Approximately 80% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 7: Approximately 85% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 8: Approximately 90% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 9: Approximately 95% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 10: Approximately 97 ½ % of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Set 11: Approximately 100% of 1RM x 1 rep on a 40X0 tempo; rest 120s

Remember, on the upper body day, there are two principle lifts. That means that for every set of the close grip bench press that you do, you must then follow with a set of standing barbell reverse grip curls. In other words, on today’s test day, you will actually perform 22 sets – 11 sets of each exercise in an alternating format.

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, part II: TESTING THE ONE REP MAX (1RM) page 5

Accessory Lift Testing
Two minutes after your last single attempt on your primary lifts, pull out your trusty calculator, and perform some basic math. Calculate 10% of your 1RM in the bench press, and then perform the 45° Incline DB Trap 3 Lift for 8 reps with that weight.

This test is a pass or fail test for structural integrity of the shoulder girdle, specifically the area of the trapezius 3 fibers. If you can do the 8 reps on both arms, good for you; you pass. How badly you fail is a function of how many reps you do not get, or how out of balance you are from left to right sides.

Two minutes after this effort, follow the same procedure, using 9% of your bench press, for Seated DB External Rotation. Again, 8 reps passes, less than that fails.

Tempo – What It Means
The tempo is the speed at which you perform an exercise. It is another variable, just like number of sets, number of repetitions, rest period, etc., that can change the difficulty level of an exercise.

To translate a given tempo, such as 4010, remember the following:

   •  The first number of the tempo is the speed of the descent given in seconds, in this case,         4 seconds

   •  The second number is the length of the pause at the bottom of the movement, in this        case no pause.

   •  The third number is the speed of the ascent, or lift; here, the lift is performed in                    one second.

   •  The fourth number is the length of the pause at the top. In the above example, there           is no pause at the top.

 

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, part II: TESTING THE ONE REP MAX (1RM) page 6

X Concentric Tempos: What They Mean
When you have an “X” in the concentric range of a tempo, the goal is to lift the weight as fast as possible. You should literally try to push the weight through the ceiling. It is important to note that the intention to push or pull as hard and as fast as possible is what is important. The actual speed of the bar does not matter, as it will slow down with heavier loads.

A fast concentric tempo like this one is essential in order to elicit contraction from every possible muscle fiber. It is the only way to get the higher threshold motor units to work – sub-maximal efforts will not have the same effect. Additionally, the upward speed of the bar is an excellent judge of how close you are to your max. The slower the bar moves – despite your best efforts – the closer you are to your 1 rep max.

Eccentric-first Exercises
When you have an exercise – such as the bench press – whose first movement requires you to lower the weight, follow the tempo just as it is written. First you lower the weight to the chest in 4 seconds, then you press the weight to the top in one second. You literally follow the tempo in order: 4 seconds lowering, no pause at the bottom, 1 second lifting, no pause at the top.

Concentric-first Exercises
If you have an exercise where you must lift the weight first, although the tempo will still be written as 4010, you must start at the 3rd number, or the lifting speed, to begin the movement.

This is the case in the standing reverse curl. In this instance, you start at the “1” – lift in 1 second, no pause at the top, lower the weight in 4 seconds, no pause at the bottom.

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING, part II: TESTING THE ONE REP MAX (1RM) page 7

Technical Failure
Technical failure for a lift occurs when you cannot lift the weight, or cannot maintain the eccentric (lowering speed) tempo. So, if you are performing the bench press and are using your chest as a trampoline for the bar to get the lift, you have reached technical failure.

Rules of Testing
When performing maximal strength tests, follow these rules:

    •   A spotter should be used for all 1RM testing. Failure to use a spotter is negligent on your         part. Always test 1RM’s with a spotter.
    •   Adhere to technique.
    •   Adhere to tempo.
    •   Rest periods in between sets are as important as the sets themselves – they must                 be followed.     
    •   Do not test what you do not know. If you do not have proficiency in weight training, a          formal instructional period is recommended. Consider hiring a qualified coach in your             area.
    •   Do not test more often than twice per year. One rep max testing is taxing to the central         nervous system. You need to give your body adequate recovery.
    •   Never test more than two major lifts per day. As such, you should test the upper body         and lower body on separate days.

In part III, we will discuss exercise performance.

About Mark Diaz and PHYSIQOLOGY – THE SCIENCE OF PERSONAL TRAINING
Mark Diaz is a NYC personal trainer and strength coach. His company, Physiqology, is a peak performance center devoted to professional and amateur athletes, as well as motivated individuals from the private sector. Their goal is to combine the best information that science and practical application can offer to create world class results. Whether at home, in the boardroom, or on the playing field, Physiqology specializes in the science of personal training.

[link, “Mark Diaz is a NYC personal trainer and strength coach. His company, Physiqology, is a peak performance center devoted to professional and amateur athletes, as well as motivated individuals from the private sector. Their goal is to combine the best information that science and practical application can offer to create world class results. Whether at home, in the boardroom, or on the playing field, Physiqology specializes in the science of personal training.” to http://www.physiqology.com/WHY-PHYSIQOLOGY/index.html]