We’ve all seen those guys in the gym –

They go hard, every single session. Each set is an ode to hardcore bodybuilders of yesteryear, as they grunt, grind and heave with all their might to get that weight to go up.

Whether it’s 10 reps, 5 reps, or 2, plenty of people training to get bigger and stronger train to failure on virtually every set. In a way, that’s understandable. We know that in order for a muscle to grow, some form of damage needs to occur. You work a muscle hard, it breaks down, then rebuilds bigger and stronger than before.

Progressive overload is a good thing too. By increasing your volume over time, you’re also going to get bigger and stronger. So surely hitting max-rep sets in every session is beneficial?

You know for sure that you’re working hard, creating muscle damage and (hopefully) contributing to progressive overload.

Does that mean we should be maxing out on a regular basis?

Well, yes and no …

… but mostly no.

Testing your maxes does provide certain benefits, and can be important, depending on what you’re training for. But, when done too often, max testing does more harm than good.

 

First Up – What is a Max Test?

Most people associate a max rep test with a one-rep max, where you work up to the heaviest weight you can lift for a single rep. If you do powerlifting or Olympic lifting, you’ll be doing these in competition.

But a max test doesn’t have to be just for a single rep. You can do a 2-rep max, a 3-rep max, a 10-rep max – whatever you like.

The key to determining what any maximum is, is the RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) scale. Here’s a quick rundown of this –

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