Preparing the Body for a Maximal Attempt

Heading into a week of training where you’re going to test your one repetition maximal movement, its important to prepare both mentally and physically for this endeavor in some key areas that are often overlooked. Testing your one rep max is obviously a good measure of your progress in the gym. But, heading into these attempts without proper recovery, mental attitude and general overall preparation may lead to an inaccurate account of what your actual true 1 rep max may be. Here are a few tools to add to your toolbox that will help you get closer to the number you should have when these tests show up in your training.


Physical Preparation


No matter what you do in the days leading up to a maximal attempt it is important that your Central Nervous System and Musculature recover sufficiently to allow all systems the ability to function at near optimal levels. Sufficient sleep is one of the most important ways to allow for a full recovery. I say sufficient because the proper amount of sleep is different for everyone. Most require 7-8 hours of sleep to achieve this. These are consecutive hours where deep sleep has been met at some point. While its obvious that you shouldn’t screw this up the night before, it is just as important to get consistent sleep several days leading up to your 1RM attempt.


Touching on the Central Nervous System once again, with its processes being conducted via electricity, it is important to receive adequate levels of water so that the conduction of said processes are as efficient as possible. Doing so allows for proper conduction of internal electricity to your musculature and aids in efficient muscular contractions.

Proper hydration in the days leading up to a maximal attempt is also beneficial for muscular recovery.

A good measure for proper levels of hydration are urine color and thirst. Drink until your urine color is light yellow or colorless and you no longer experience constant thirst throughout the day.

Mental Preparation


In the days leading up to a maximal attempt it is always encouraged that you envision the attempt either from the first (through your eyes) or third person (someone else’s eyes) with as much detail as possible. The way the space you are lifting is laid out, the smell of the room, what you are wearing, the feeling of yourself crushing your old numbers and even the sound of the bar being re-racked after your attempt is complete. You cannot have too much detail in this area of mental preparation and the more you rehearse the more real it tends to become.


This is a maximal attempt and you need to be fearless. Your coaches will have your safety in mind first and foremost when practicing these movements at maximal weights. Do not be afraid to go for something for fear of being injured or defeated. Get out of your own way, and discover what you are capable of hitting when you are fearless.


Still Mind

The last thing I hope to leave you with is an understanding of the power of minimal thinking. Heading into a maximal attempt with a busy mind can lead to over thinking, and ultimately your defeat if you let it.

Practice staying calm, breathing deeply and letting your mind go blank as you allow your body to remember what it has learned in the realm of proper movement.

Maximal attempts are fun and if you lead up to them properly it can be an excellent measuring stick of your progress.

Coach Jake