1 rep max warm-up weights calculator

Calculate your ideal warmup weights to do before you attempt a 1RM. WIth intuitive plate-specific rounding for easier barbell friendly increments, this is the perfecet tool to set a new PR!

Pro tip: Save this web page to your phone home screen for quick access during your workouts!

Warm up sets calculator

Enter the weight you expect to lift for your first 1RM attempt. The calculator will return your ideal warmup progression including repetitions and rest times. Minimum barbell weight = 40kg/lbs.

A guide to using the 1RM warmup calculator

This calculator is designed to help you quickly select the ideal warmup protocol when preparing for a one rep max (1RM) attempt in exercises like the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

This calculator doesn't have to be only for 1RM attempts, use the same approach to  find your perfect warmup for regular training, just ender your working set weight and find a smooth ramped warmup,

  1. Enter an approximate first 1RM attempt: Start by inputting a weight close to your first one rep max attempt. It doesn't have to be exact, but just like in a powerlifting meet, your first attempt should be an easy win, pick a weight that you could definitely do 2 reps with, maybe even 3, you can always go up for attempts 2 & 3.
  2. Select units and equipment type: Choose between kilograms (kg) or pounds (lbs) and specify the equipment you'll be using—barbell, dumbbell, or machine. The calculator tailors the warm-up sets based on your selection.
  3. Review your personalized warmup protocol: The calculator provides a series of warm-up sets with specific weights, reps, and rest periods. These are calculated as percentages of your entered 1RM and are rounded to practical lifting weights for more efficient plate loading.

Calculating a 1RM warmup on Bench vs Squats

When preparing for a one-rep max (1RM) attempt, whether it be for bench press, squats or any compound barbell exercise, the approach to warming up remains pretty consistent across lifts. The primary variable that changes is the load and relative load used for each warmup set. This guideline ensures that regardless of the exercise, the warmup protocol facilitates optimal performance and safety.

Key principles:

  • Find loads that ramp up smoothly: The loads for warmup sets are intended to prime your muscles, joints and nervous system for the maximal rep coming up. A well planned warmup does this in a progressive fashion.
  • Maintain consistency: Use the same percentage-based progression for both exercises to systematically increase the load towards your target 1RM. This method helps in adequately preparing your muscles and CNS (central nervous system) for the peak load to come.
  • Tailor to the Exercise: While the percentage increments might stay the same, the actual weights will vary. Begin with lighter weights and fewer repetitions, gradually moving closer to your 1RM attempt weight.

This structured approach ensures that the body is adequately prepared for maximum performance in either lift, minimizing the risk of injury and maximizing the effectiveness of the warmup.

1RM tests on dumbbells and machines

Traditionally 1RM testing is done with compound movements involving a barbell, however testing a 1, 3 or 5 RM on dumbbell lifts or machines/cables is still possible. This calculator has modifications to accomodate those lifts.

If the loads provided do not match the increments available to you, feel free to round up or down to find an appropriate load.

  • Barbell: For barbell lifts, the first warmup set is fixed at the empty bar, if your barbell is not exactly 20kg / 45lbs, simply use the empty bar instead, whatever the weight.
  • Dumbbell/Machine: Excludes the empty bar set and will suggest a shorter warmup protocol to accommodate the nature of these equipment types, making the warm-up more efficient and targeted.

1RM safety and alternative ways to measure max strength

1RM tests should only be conducted by experienced lifters with proper equipment, coaching and spotting. While performing a 1RM test is the most accurate way to know your strength levels, it does take a time commitments and can be an interruption to your training consistency and introduce fatigue.

One alternative that allows you to predict 1RM with good accuracy without actually doing a maximum effort set is to use barbell speed data collected with a velocity based training  app like Metric VBT - which automatically   estimates your 1RM without ever having to complete an actual 1RM. Saving you time, stress and allowing you to test more regularly for a better picture of your progress in the gym.

All without the fatiguing effect of an actual 1RM.

Learn more about the load velocity profile calculator and using bar speed to measure 1RM here →

Free Velocity based training resources

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Elevate Your Training with Metric VBT

Maximise your workout effectiveness by monitoring key metrics like velocity, power, range of motion and tempo with just your smartphone.

Metric VBT automatically calculates your 1RM from bar speed data, along with bar path tracking, RPE logging and a full workout builder.

Metric is the perfect lifting app to refine your technique and enhance your strength.

Download it on iOS today.

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