Avoiding 1 Rep Max Living

One-rep maximum (1RM) is the most weight a person can lift for one repetition. An athlete lifting a heavy barbell may come to mind, but this concept can be applied to our daily lives in terms of our capacity for activity and movement.


What is one-rep max living? It is when the demands of life are near or exceeding one’s maximum capacity. For example, if lifting fifteen pounds from the floor is at or close to your one-rep maximum, and your full laundry basket weighs fifteen pounds, doing laundry is going to be exhausting, and potentially be a cause of injury. 


This is especially relevant this year during the COVID pandemic. As I work with patients and talk with friends, it’s clear that many are experiencing a reduction in overall activity level and capacity for activity due to the closing of gyms, increased stress levels, working from home, and significant change in routines. Incorporating resistance exercises to our routines has great benefits to our physical and mental health.


If you build up capacity (1RM), daily activities become more manageable and you can build resilience, or one’s ability to resist or recover from functional decline following health stressors. Improving capacity helps one perform better, whether it’s a sport or performing daily tasks like laundry, lifting one's children, or gardening.


Here are some guidelines to follow when incorporating resistance exercises into one’s routine:


  • How often: 2-3 sessions a week

  • How many: 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps

  • Intensity: Aim for 5-7 on a 0-10 scale, 0 meaning you are exerting no effort, and 10 being max effort. Get creative with equipment to add resistance. Fill a bucket of milk jug with sand or water, fill a backpack with books, etc.

  • What to do: Perform 1 exercise from each category listed below


Categories of exercises with a few examples:

  • Squat: sit to stand from chair without using arms, goblet squat

  • Hip exercise/lifting: bridge, deadlift, step up

  • Carry: hold a weight in one hand, or a weight in each hand, and walk

  • Pushing: perform a push up with your hands on a counter or a chair or the floor

  • Pulling: bent row, table row, prone W 


Check out our YouTube page for more exercise ideas, and please contact us with questions, or if you need help getting back to activities that are important to you.

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