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How to Estimate 1 Rep Max with Mean Velocity

Written by Aitor Zabaleta

17 April, 2020

Written by Aitor Zabaleta

17 April, 2020

Written by Aitor Zabaleta

17 April, 2020


As I said in previous articles, there are different ways of quantifying what is the daily status of a person for a particular exercise.


So far, one of them, which has been used is the maximum repetition (1MR).


Basically, it consists in lifting the maximum possible weight in an exercise, because this is an indicator of our physical form for a specific exercise and strength in general.


But it raises some problems: doing repetitions with the maximum capacity requires experience and technique, and it can be harmful if not done well (Brzycki, 1993, Reynolds, Gordon, & Robergs, 2006).


In addition, even if we manage to do it well every day, we would get too tired with such a big effort before training. That is why today we are going to see how to calculate the 1MR from the velocity of execution.

The problem

So we have a problem: We need to know our physical form every day, because it changes daily. We have a method, the 1RM, but knowing it is harmful and we could tire ourselves excessively by doing it.

The solution

We could change the method… Or we could have simpler ways and without so many negative consequences to get to know the 1RM.


It is already proven that the one rep maximum is a good method to get to know the physical form of an athlete, and why change it?


Which is that simpler way, to find out our maximum? By doing a submaximal repetition before starting the training, measuring the mean velocity of that repetition, and obtaining a very accurate estimation of my one rep max that day.

It is simple, it is accurate, it does not tire, and hardly takes up time.


Calculate the 1RM from the velocity

The execution velocity is the best expression of the intensity that a given weight represents for a person (Juan Jose Gonzalez-Badillo, Sanchez-Medina, Pareja-Blanco, & Rodriguez-Rosell, 2017).


We must not forget that the more force applied, the faster we will move a load, which means that depending on the velocity at which the bar moves, I am able to apply more, or less force.


There is a very high correlation between the velocity at which we move the bar, and the % of the maximum that is a load for us, as long as we move the bar as fast as we can (J Gonzalez, Badillo & Sanchez-Medina, 2010)


This does, that we can do in a graph, a curve, joining each % of the MR of an exercise with the velocity at which we have moved it. This is known as force-velocity profile. And from this curve, we can draw an equation, which is what will allow us to calculate the MR.


Some authors have published profiles that could be used to calculate our 1RM based on the execution velocity.


But knowing that each person has a different strength-velocity profile, it makes more sense that we have our own equation.


Thus we would increase still more the accuracy of the calculation of the One Rep Max based on the velocity of submaximal rep.


In any case, these force-velocity profiles exist to our disposition, for the exercises of bench press, squat and rowing (JJ Gonzalez-Badillo & Sanchez-Medina, 2010, Sanchez-Medina, Pallares, Perez, Moran-Navarro, & Gonzalez- Badillo, 2017; Sanchez-Moreno, Rodriguez-Rosell, Pareja-Blanco, Mora-Custodio, & Gonzalez-Badillo, 2017) can also serve us.


They are profiles based on researches with very large and diverse samples, thay might not be so accurate, but they are so easy and fast to use.

Average equation obtained from the force-velocity profile

Bench press

% 1 RM = 8.4326x VMP2-73.501x VM P + 112.33


% 1 RM = -5.961x VM P2- 50.71x VMP +117


% 1 RM = 13.2596x VM P2-93,867x VM P + 144.38

Therefore, based on the data from these three studies, we could also know the velocity that we would have with each % of the 1RM.


It is wrong to say that the data that comes out from this researches is your velocity of execution. But leaving a study with such a large sample, we serve as a reference to know where part of the population moves, with said % of the MR. Creating our own curve.


But that is not real. Scientists have long understood that the force-velocity curve is different for each subject (Cormie, McCaulley, & McBride, 2007, Jimenez-Reyes, Samozino, Brughelli, & Morin, 2017), so the best thing is to have our own force-velocity curve to obtain data based on our own performance.


Fortunately, some velocity measurement devices, such as Vitruve, give us the option of creating our own equation.


How? Vitruve asks us to do a load progression, and from the points in the graph, it creates a custom equation.


Quantifying the lifting with Vitruve we can calculate the 1RM from the velocity, and the other data of interest that we can obtain from this equation.


It is convenient to renew your profile every few months, because it can be that your profile changes, depending in which part of your curve you have been training.


Because of that, the data that you will obtain from the measurements of the velocity of execution could distense from reality.



Brzycki, M. (1993). Strength Testing-Predicting a One-Rep Max from Reps-to-Fatigue. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 64(1), 88-90. https://doi.org/10.1080/07303084.1993.10606684
Cormie, P., McCaulley, G. O., & McBride, J. M. (2007). Power versus strength-power jump squat training: Influence on the load-power relationship. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 39(6), 996-1003. https://doi.org/10.1097/mss.0b013e3180408e0c
González-Badillo, J. J., & Sánchez-Medina, L. (2010). Movement velocity as a measure of loading intensity in resistance training. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 31(5), 347-352. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0030-1248333
Jiménez-Reyes, P., Samozino, P., Brughelli, M., & Morin, J. B. (2017). Effectiveness of an individualized training based on force-velocity profiling during jumping. Frontiers in Physiology, 7(JAN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2016.00677
Reynolds, J. M., Gordon, T. J., & Robergs, R. A. (2006). Prediction of one repetition maximum strength from multiple repetition maximum testing and anthropometry. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20(3), 584-592. https://doi.org/10.1519/R-15304.1
Sánchez-Medina, L., Pallarés, J., Pérez, C., Morán-Navarro, R., & González-Badillo, J. (2017). Estimation of Relative Load From Bar Velocity in the Full Back Squat Exercise. Sports Medicine International Open, 1, E80-E88. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0043-102933
Sánchez-Moreno, M., Rodríguez-Rosell, D., Pareja-Blanco, F., Mora-Custodio, R., & González-Badillo, J. J. (2017). Movement velocity as indicator of relative intensity and level of effort attained during the set in pull-up exercise. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 12(10), 1378-1384. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2016-0791

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