Why Maxing is Worthless and a better alternative



You all know what the one rep max is. It’s the gold standard for comparing your strength with your buddies. Whenever another guy asks how much you lift they’re referring to your max.


Some guys even build their workouts around to. They make sure the day before is light so they’re well rested. They remember how much they maxed even if it’s been months since the last time. But that’s about the only thing they track.


Personally I’ve only maxed once. My buddies wanted to do it so we did. And I’ve got to be honest it made me feel pretty good. I lifted more then all my friends despite the fact that I was relatively new to the gym and nobody expected it. It was a good ego boost I felt like such a bad ass, even though now I wouldn’t consider it that much weight.


But that boost went away the moment we started getting back to the actual workout. Yeah I had the highest one rep max, but I still couldn’t lift the same weight as the other guys for as long. I would be 10-20 pounds lighter than them while doing a couple less reps.


You see that’s the drawback of maxing. It’s a false sense of accomplishment. Lifting something really heavy one time doesn’t make you strong, it’s probably not too safe either (I know my shoulders are still messed up from bad form).


On top of that, it isn’t even a good indicator of your progress. As soon as you lifted that weight your muscle fibers tore a little and will rebuild stronger. So in reality you should be able to lift more than that weight next time. By doing a one rep make you determine how strong you were not how strong you are.


But there’s a better way.


Constant Tracking


Tracking is the key to determining how strong you are and how much progress you’ve made. It is the most effective method because it gives you as close to real time as you can get. You aren’t maxing once in a blue moon and seeing how much you’ve improved. Instead you’re doing the same exercised multiple times a week with increasing amounts of weight each time. Constant growth, constant progression. That’s a better indicator of strength than doing one rep of a weight that’s too heavy for you with bad form.


But just because you’re adding weight and keeping track doesn’t really mean you’re strong if all you do is curls.


If you really want to work out for strength instead of looks I recommend the timeless 5×5 routine. Do 5×5 of the classic compound lifts (deadlifts, squats, bench, and presses). I guarantee you do a workout like this you’ll be considered strong by normal standards in several months. Give it a few years and you’ll be strong by any measure of the word.


So stop wasting your time with a max. Keep track of your heavy compound lifts instead.