Use the 1% Rule to Increase Your Max and Build Strength

Help your athletes improve their strength and lifting capacity with the 1% rule, prescribed by STACK Expert Giovani Grassi.

Strength training is important for athletes, but getting stronger can be a challenge. For my strength program, I go by the "1% rule." I have used it for five years, and it has a 100% success rate for increasing strength in the weight room. Performing a 1 rep max (1RM) lift has its benefits, but it places undue stress on the joints if done too often. You should only lift your 1RM twice a year, and use the 1% rule to increase your strength.

As you lift you will get stronger, but to avoid maxing out, use the 1% rule—i.e., increase your 1RM by 1% for each rep you complete over the prescribed rep range for your current lift. For example: if you performed your last set at 95% of your 1RM, science tells us you will only be able to complete two reps. Each rep completed beyond two reps at 95% allows for a 1% increase in your 1RM. If your 1RM is 245 pounds and you do three reps at 95% when you're supposed to do only two, your new 1RM would be 245 + 1%, or 247.45 pounds.

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Bench Press

Strength training is important for athletes, but getting stronger can be a challenge. For my strength program, I go by the "1% rule." I have used it for five years, and it has a 100% success rate for increasing strength in the weight room. Performing a 1 rep max (1RM) lift has its benefits, but it places undue stress on the joints if done too often. You should only lift your 1RM twice a year, and use the 1% rule to increase your strength.

As you lift you will get stronger, but to avoid maxing out, use the 1% rule—i.e., increase your 1RM by 1% for each rep you complete over the prescribed rep range for your current lift. For example: if you performed your last set at 95% of your 1RM, science tells us you will only be able to complete two reps. Each rep completed beyond two reps at 95% allows for a 1% increase in your 1RM. If your 1RM is 245 pounds and you do three reps at 95% when you're supposed to do only two, your new 1RM would be 245 + 1%, or 247.45 pounds.

Follow these guidelines and make the 1% rule work for you:

Week 1: 80% of 1RM
Complete all lifts in 3 sets of 10
75%, 77%, 80%

Week 2: 83% of 1RM
Complete all major lifts in 4 sets of 8 and all secondary lifts in 3 sets of 10
75%, 77%, 80%, 83%

Week 3: 85% of 1RM
Complete all major lifts in 4 sets of 6 and all secondary lifts in 3 sets of 10
77%, 80%, 83%, 85%

Week 4: 87% of 1RM
Complete all major lifts in 4 sets of 5 and all secondary lifts in 3 sets of 10
80%, 83%, 85%, 87%

Week 5: 90% of 1RM
Complete all major lifts in 4 sets of 4 and all secondary lifts in 3 sets of 10
83%, 85%, 87%, 90%

Week 6: 93% of 1RM
Complete all major lifts in 4 sets of 3 and all secondary lifts in 3 sets of 10
85%, 87%, 90%, 93%

Week 7: 95% of 1RM
Complete all major lifts in 4 sets of 2 and all secondary lifts in 3 sets of 10
87%, 90%, 93%, 95%

Week 8: 95% of 1RM
This is your "Max out" week, but I like to call it a "bump-up" week.

  • 80% x 5
  • 83% x 3
  • 87% x 2
  • 90% x 2
  • 93% x 2
  • 95% x 2-5

For the final lift, aim for five reps but complete at least two. If you complete all five reps, your 1RM increases by 3%. If you only complete two reps, your 1RM remains the same. Each rep after the prescribed rep scheme at each percentage of your 1RM equals a 1% increase.

This method works all the time with my athletes, and hopefully it will work for you!

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: WEIGHTLIFTING | LIFTS