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Determining Your Maximum Strength

Determining Your Maximum Strength

Determining individual maximum strength is very important when establishing a training programme.

There are two methods of determining the maximum strength.

  1. Dynamically-progressive determination of the maximum strength
  2. Finding your maximum strength by determining repetition maximum.

Dynamically-Progressive Determination of the Maximum Strength

After doing a good warm-up, select a weight that you think you can only do one single repetition with and then carry out the exercise. If you could accomplish the exercise correctly with this weight, take a 3 minute break and repeat the exercise with a heavier weight. Keep increasing the weight until you have found one that you can no longer do the exercise with. Your maximum strength is the heaviest weight with which you can faultlessly complete an exercise.


  • Accurate determination of the maximum strength
  • Quick ascertainment of the maximum strength


  • High physical strain
  • Risk of injury
  • Only applicable for physically resilient individuals
  • Risk of being over motivated which could lead to overstraining.


You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises, Mark Lauren, Joshua Clark

Finding Your Maximum Strength by Determining Repetition Maximum.

This method of determining the maximum strength involves ascertaining the highest possible number of repetitions possible. After warming up, select a weight with which you could do several repetitions with. The maximum number of repetitions carried out correctly is used to determine the maximum strength. If you can do more than 20 repetitions with the selected weight, you should take a break and repeat the test with a heavier weight.

The lower the maximum number of repetitions, the more accurate the determination of the strength maximum.

The following table is used to determine the maximum strength.

Determining Maximum Strength

% of Maximum Strength
100 %
95 %
3 - 4
90 %
5 - 6
85 %
7 - 8
80 %
9 - 10
75 %
11 - 13
70 %
14 - 16
65 %
17 - 20
60 %
21 - 24
55 %
According to Rühle, 1992

Example: The following maximum strength results, if you can accomplish 8 repetitions at most with a weight of 20 kg:
20kg/80*100 = 25 kg


  • No maximum strain, less strenuous test method
  • Test can also be done for exercises without weights e.g. abdominal muscles.


  • Time-consuming
  • The maximum weight cannot be determined accurately (especially if the number of repetitions is high)
  • Requires calculating


The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revised

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