## How to Increase your 1RM

Before I give you methods let’s put a practical example of how this can work over a short period of time using a theoretical lift. For the purposes of all my examples we will use a theoretical lifter that lifts 100kg (225lbs) in the bench press. The main goal would be to get 90% (90kg) of that weight for a set of 5-6 reps over a period of 6 weeks. Typically 90% can only be performed for about 1-3 repetitions for a max. Below is a series of ways to get to that goal using various percentages of your 1RM without ever adding weight/percentages to work sets. Stay until the very end and i’ll show you how to incorporate all of these techniques into a single program that you can apply immediately if you so choose.

## Increase Sets

So let’s say after the initial warm up we work up to one set of 2 repetitions with 90% (90kg). For ournext session we will be aiming for 2x2 rather than 1x2, 3x2 the session after and so on. It doesn’t have to be so aggressive though. A better way to go about it would be to hit 1x2 twice or three times in a row and then increase to 2x2. Rinse and repeat. I have to say this is my favourite of the primary methods I will show you. Adding sets is brutal and effective!

**Practical application**

**Week 1 - Day 1 - 1 x 2 @90%**

**Week 1 - day 2 - 1 x 2 @90%**

**Week 1 - day 3 - 1 x 2 @90%**

**Week 2 - Day 1 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 2 - Day 2 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 2 - Day 3 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 3 - Day1 - 3 x 2 @90%**

**Week 3 - Day2 - 3 x 2 @90%**

**Week 3 - Day3 - 3 x 2 @90%**

**so on…**

## Increase Repetitions

Typically I would use this approach in conjunction with adding sets; after adding a sufficient amount of sets you can reduce sets and add reps. Using a percentage like 90% it is difficult to achieve as the working repetitions are too high to add reps week after week. For this I would recommend using something around 80-85%. For this example I will use 85% on our theoretical lifter. You may ask; but how do I get stronger with 90% if i’m only using 85% Steve! It’s pretty simple really; if you increase the amount of reps you do with something as close as 85% you will also increase your ability to punch out reps at 90% as it’s a close percentage. Obviously this approach has diminished returns the further away you are from your goal percentage you are trying to improve. That has big implications regarding 1RM strength but thats a long conversation for another day.

**Practical Application**

**Week 1 - Day 1 - 3 x 3 @85%**

**Week 1 - day 2 - 3 x 3 @85%**

**Week 1 - day 3 - 3 x 3 @85%**

**Week 2 - Day 1 - 3 x 4 @85%**

**Week 2 - Day 2 - 3 x 4 @85%**

**Week 2 - Day 3 - 3 x 4 @85%**

**Week 3 - Day1 - 3 x 5 @85%**

**Week 3 - Day2 - 3 x 5 @85%**

**Week 3 - Day3 - 3 x 5 @85%**

**so on…**

## Increase Frequency

To make this work two things need to be considered. The amount of volume in a single session needs to be capable of either increasing or decreasing or alternatively starting with a low frequency, low volume approach and simply adding frequency. For the sake of simplicity we will opt for the latter.

**Practical Application**

**Week 1 - Day 1 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 2 - Day 1 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 2 - Day 2 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 3 - Day1 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 3 - Day2 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**Week 3 - Day3 - 2 x 2 @90%**

**so on…**

## Increase Volume

Implementing any of these primary approaches will inevitably increase volume. As you add more sets, repetitions or frequency either daily, weekly or both daily and weekly volume will increase. Typically as volume rises we see a diminishment of intensity but that isn’t necessarily true as the models I have used have kept the chosen intensity constant while increasing volume over time.

## Combining All Three Approaches

A combination of all three primary approaches can yield significant returns. By mixing and matching the body must respond to the added stress placed upon it by becoming more robust or put simply; get stronger. We are replacing weight on the bar with added sets, reps, frequency and rotating volume. The program below doesn’t have much volume initially but gradually increases. Obviously warm up accordingly before hitting your top sets; something like 2x5 with 50%, 1x5 with 70%, then a set 5% below what you are hitting for working sets with the same repetitions as the working sets. I’ve added a taper or deload on the seventh week so you can be primed to hit more than 5 reps come testing time with 90%, or alternatively go for a new max.

**Sample program **