How Many Reps Can Folks Actually Do at Particular 1RM Percentages? • Stronger by Science


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

Key Factors

  1. Researchers carried out a meta-regression to quantify the variety of reps that may very well be carried out at particular percentages of 1RM.
  2. On common, extra reps may very well be carried out at reasonable hundreds than beforehand thought. There’s a giant interindividual variation in rep efficiency, and that rep efficiency is exercise-specific.  
  3. This meta-regression supplies 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 offered on this meta-regression could enable for extra correct percentage-based coaching in group settings.

After I first grew to become critical 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 positive coaching was an important a part of my day. I’d additionally use loading charts to program the variety of reps to finish at a particular proportion of 1RM (e.g., 12 reps at 70% of 1RM). If I carried out 10 reps at a particular load, I might instantly go to the proportion chart and work backwards to find out my new max. These charts have been based mostly on science, I thought, so the programming and 1RM predictions have been correct. Proper? 

Years later, I realized that these charts have 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 might typically full a special variety of reps than the chart prompt. Moreover, there’s a giant diploma of inter-individual variation within the variety of reps carried out at a particular proportion of 1RM (4, 5), and rep efficiency can fluctuate inside a person from daily. We now have autoregulatory instruments, reminiscent of repetitions in reserve (RIR) (6) and velocity-based coaching (7), that present different load prescription choices. Nonetheless, a loading chart can present a good place to begin, which might 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 knowledge from quite a few research to create  an up to date loading chart and quantify the interindividual variation related to its values.

Goal and Hypotheses


The presently reviewed meta-analysis had three major goals:

  1. Present a complete replace of loading charts to find out, on common, what number of reps might 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 numerous moderators, reminiscent of 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 numerous databases via February 2023 utilizing particular standards to determine all research addressing their analysis questions. Along with looking databases, the researchers additionally included research within the evaluation that that they had private data of, even when they didn’t seem within the search. 

Figures and tables by Anna Wilder

The researchers included knowledge from 962 reps-to-failure assessments accomplished by over 7,000 people throughout 92 research. 66% of the themes have been male, 60% have been educated people, 92% have been < 59 years previous, and essentially the most generally analyzed workout routines have been the bench press (14% of units), leg press (12%), leg extension (11%), and chest press (9%). Moreover, free-weight and Smith machine knowledge for a particular train (e.g., bench press) have 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 result variable (repetitions accomplished) was log-transformed to enhance the statistical properties of the fashions.. The linear and cubic spline fashions offered 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. In addition 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 workout routines collectively, in addition they included exercise-specific loading charts for bench press and leg press. The opposite workout routines (leg extension and chest press) match higher with the primary loading chart for all workout routines.

At most percentages of 1RM, reps carried out have been estimated to be larger than essentially the most generally used loading chart. For instance, this evaluation estimated that throughout all workout routines, on common, 14.80 reps have been carried out at 70% of 1RM, whereas the extensively used chart means that 12 reps might 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 similar 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 hundreds than at increased hundreds. 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 reveals the log means (cubic spline mannequin) and log commonplace deviations (linear mannequin) for the bench press, and Desk 3 reveals 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. Much 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 hundreds than at increased hundreds. Determine 2AB reveals the log means (cubic spline mannequin) and lengthy commonplace deviations (linear mannequin) for the leg press, and Desk 4 reveals 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 particular proportion of 1RM. With this in thoughts, it’s fairly wild that we’re simply now updating a loading chart that was revealed in a textbook (8) about 30 years in the past with out sturdy 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 have been exercise-, sex-, and coaching status-specific, the generally used loading chart (8) was put into apply with little clarification of how the values took place. Moreover, the unique loading chart didn’t reference the interindividual variation of reps carried out (4, 5). Due to this fact, 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 only technique to study the current findings is to check 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 reveals that the reps allowed at a given proportion of 1RM for the leg press are significantly totally different from the all workout routines and bench press tables. In apply, individuals generally use the unique loading chart for squats and bench presses, however not for different workout routines. It is a good apply, because the chart could be far too conservative to program for leg press. Though Nuzzo et al (1) famous that workout routines aside from the bench press and leg press would match properly with the all-exercises loading chart, I feel it’s because there wasn’t a big sufficient knowledge set on another 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 totally different than any worth related to 80% of 1RM in Desk 4. 

One other facet that this meta-analysis couldn’t absolutely flesh out was the potential distinction in reps carried out between free-weight and machine-based workout routines. The researchers famous that reps from Smith machine squats have been mixed with reps from free-weight squats, and the identical for the bench press as a result of, “many papers didn’t embrace data on the tools used, and of these papers that included such data, inadequate knowledge have been obtainable to warrant exploration of separate REPS ~ %1RM relationships for Smith machine and barbell workout routines.” Though this evaluation couldn’t be carried out, there may be some proof that free-weight and Smith machine variations are, on common, related to totally different numbers of reps carried out. As an illustration, Rodriguez-Rosell et al (9 – MASS Evaluation) 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 could be very best, plainly 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 display two issues:1) there’s a excessive diploma of inter-individual variation within the reps carried out, and a couple of) the variation will increase because the relative load turns into lighter. The basic Hoeger et al knowledge (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 have been the extremes in that examine, throwing out every of these particular person knowledge 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 remains to be not properly understood. The presently reviewed meta-analysis didn’t determine any elements that would meaningfully clarify this relationship. Earlier knowledge (4) have recognized physique mass as probably having an inverse relationship with the variety of reps carried out; nevertheless, that relationship was non-significant (p = 0.095). As I beforehand reviewed, Van Vossel et al (10) discovered that people with a larger proportion of sort I muscle fibers tended to carry out extra reps than these with a larger proportion of sort II fibers. Nevertheless, the correlations between fiber sort and reps reported by Van Vossel et al weren’t that sturdy (r ~ 0.40), making it troublesome to make use of fiber sort as a predictive device for interindividual variation in rep efficiency. Moreover, even when fiber sort was persistently predictive of rep efficiency, it isn’t a sensible device to make use of. In the end, the elements accounting for interindividual variation stay one of the vital urgent questions in train science.

The Place For Share-Based mostly 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 daily fluctuations in efficiency
  3. They’re often based mostly on charts that aren’t exercise-specific
  4. The loading charts are probably flawed, even on the group degree

I received’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 concerns would result in programming that’s too troublesome or too straightforward for a lot of. As talked about earlier, Cooke et al (4) discovered that many lifters squatted over 20 reps and others beneath 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 bear in mind particular person charges of fatigue from set to set, the loading chart doesn’t point out what number of reps may very well be accomplished with the identical load on subsequent units. The fatigue charge is essential as a result of most programming consists of multi-set coaching. As well as, the loading chart doesn’t think about that efficiency can fluctuate daily. Third, as demonstrated within the presently reviewed meta-analysis, loading charts must be exercise-specific, a minimum of for some workout routines. Programming the bench press based mostly on a leg press chart would lead to most individuals failing on the vast majority of their units. Lastly, a loading chart might be incorrect on the group degree. Whereas we will really feel a lot better in regards to the newly created charts in Nuzzo et al (1), as extra proof has emerged, plainly the unique loading chart – which was based mostly on actual observations in a bunch of contributors – was off in a broader sense in some instances (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 analogous flaw of loading charts. It’s now well-known that the particular velocity related to a particular proportion of 1RM or RIR is extremely particular person. Due to this fact, prescribing group-level velocity loss thresholds will result in a special RIR between people. Additional, prescribing hundreds based mostly on a particular velocity will produce numerous 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. Nevertheless, the primary limitation of RIR-based prescriptions is that the ranking is subjective and susceptible to human error. Whereas people might 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. Specifically, some individuals discover RIR-based coaching cumbersome and would reasonably have a pre-planned prescription. Moreover, some lifters at all times undershoot RIR. In different phrases, some people nearly at all times find yourself failing when instructed to terminate the set at 1 RIR, or maxing out when they’re purported to work as much as a single at 1 – 2 RIR. In such instances, percentage-based or actual 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. Nevertheless, 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 would possibly maintain up fairly properly when in comparison with autoregulated coaching is that the percentage-based prescription in some research has been pretty conservative, preserving 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, largely between 4 – 5 RIR within the percentage-based group with a wider vary of 1-5 RIR within the RIR-based group. Due to this fact, 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, just like velocity-based coaching, is to individualize it, after which reps might 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 reasonable load (e.g., 70 – 80% of 1RM) after which predict the remainder of the chart. Ideally, the person would carry out failure units for a minimum of a couple of hundreds on totally different workout routines. 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 might 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 reveals 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 is because the variety of reps somebody performs in a heightened state shouldn’t be essentially the variety of reps they’ll carry out on a daily foundation. For instance, in Desk 5, the person carried out 13 reps at 80% of 1RM; nevertheless, I might advocate utilizing 11 to correspond to 80%. Moreover, when utilizing this chart to program a number of units, I might most likely program one thing like 3 × 8 at 80% of 1RM so that every set ends with a couple of RIR. Clearly, there may be some extrapolation with individualized charts, and the chart is probably not excellent; nevertheless, 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, newcomers 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 generally get pleasure from having a pre-planned session the place I don’t have to consider something aside from hitting the numbers on the paper (or the display). 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 reminiscent of autoregulation, we are inclined to view older instruments as utterly ineffective. Regardless of the failings related to loading charts, they’re removed from ineffective. A population-level chart might be helpful for programming in a big workforce setting. Clearly, the loading chart shouldn’t be correct for everybody on the workforce, nevertheless it supplies a basic place to begin. Equally, a loading chart can present a place to begin for a person, after which particular person loading charts might be constructed.

A loading chart-adjacent technique is to program actual hundreds. 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 may program 3 × 7 at their 10RM load and count on 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.

Total, numerous 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), suits their persona, and that they are going to adhere to and luxuriate in long run.

Subsequent Steps

There are 3 ways during which this line of analysis can proceed. First, analysis teams can start diligently reporting the variety of reps related to the proportion of 1RM in numerous workout routines. Thus, it may be clearly delineated if extra exercise-specific loading charts are required. Second, longitudinal analysis may very well be carried out 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 properly my concept that individualized charts are a notable enchancment holds up.

Software and Takeaways

The presently reviewed meta-analysis from Nuzzo et al (1) offered an essential replace to loading charts. It supplies 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; nevertheless, percentages based mostly on correct loading charts nonetheless present a good place to begin for giant workforce settings and newcomers. Furthermore, some lifters could desire percentage-based over autoregulated coaching. In that case, loading charts must be individualized in order that the proportion prescription is as correct as doable. In the end, coaches and lifters ought to each be comfy with the load prescription methodology they use, and that methodology must be one thing that lifters will adhere to over the long run.

This text was the quilt story for the December 2023 subject of MASS Analysis Evaluation. In case you’d prefer to learn the complete, 97-page October subject (and dive into the MASS archives), you possibly can subscribe to MASS right here.

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


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