How To Perform Single-Rep Training For Powerlifting

single-rep training powerlifting

In the quest to push and pull bigger plates, you may have cycled through a variety of strength-building exercises, workouts, and techniques. One method for boosting strength to consider is single-repetition training.

Single-rep training involves working up to your personal one-repetition maximum with the goal of pushing past it to set a new personal best. It’s safe, it’s effective, and it may help you crush your current strength plateau. Let’s breakdown how to perform single-rep training for powerlifting.

CAN SINGLE-REP TRAINING IMPROVE YOUR POWERLIFTING WORKOUT?

You might be wondering what a single repetition can do as far as improving your powerlifting ability. While a single rep might not seem like it can do much, it’s important to remember that you’ll be doing multiple sets and using really heavy weight.

Studies show the superiority of fewer repetitions and greater sets with heavy weight when it comes to increasing strength and muscle size. When applying this to powerlifting, spending as much time as you can trying to surpass your one-repetition maximum is going to pay off sooner rather than later. (1)

What’s more, another benefit of single-rep training is that it can help to improve neuromuscular connections between muscle tissue, tendons, and bones, ensuring your body is better able to handle the workload you’re throwing at it.

HOW TO PERFORM SINGLES

You may want to dive right into using your one-repetition maximum, but even with single-rep training, you need to work your way up. We recommend following the following formula:

Step One: Begin with some warmup sets, using about 50% to 60% of your one-repetition maximum.

Step Two: Gradually increase the weight you’re using until you reach 100% of your one-repetition maximum. Be sure to take a short break in between each set.

Step Three: Perform five to ten sets of your one-rep max, based on your experience and goals. Longer breaks may be needed, but try to keep them short.

Step Four: Conclude the workout by climbing back down from using 100% of your one-repetition maximum to 90%, 80%, etc.

Applying this to powerlifting, here’s a sample workout that you can use for the big three: deadlift, squat, bench press.

DEADLIFT

  • 1 set of 10 repetitions (barbell only)
  • 1 x 7 – 50% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 5 – 60% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 3 – 80% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 1 – 85% of 1RM (begin working sets)
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 90% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 85% of 1RM

SQUAT

  • 1 set of 10 repetitions (barbell only)
  • 1 x 7 – 50% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 5 – 60% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 3 – 80% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 1 – 85% of 1RM (begin working sets)
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 90% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 85% of 1RM

BENCH PRESS

  • 1 set of 10 repetitions (barbell only)
  • 1 x 7 – 50% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 5 – 60% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 3 – 80% of 1RM (warm-up set)
  • 1 x 1 – 85% of 1RM (begin working sets)
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 100% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 90% of 1RM
  • 1 x 1 – 85% of 1RM

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR A BETTER WORKOUT

Before you dive into your first single-rep training workout, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to avoid injury and have a better workout.

Gear Up: While not required, it is highly recommended to use a few pieces of basic powerlifting gear. You don’t have to use the latest and greatest fit tech; instead, focus on the following:

Master the Form: This goes without saying, but before you attempt to lift 100% of your one-repetition maximum, you must master the technique of the big three. You can see big gains in strength from single-rep training, but only if you know what you’re doing beforehand.

Climb the Ladder: As it’s laid out in the sample workouts above, be sure to vary the weight loads you’re using. Start out lighter, working your way up to more weight, and giving your body a chance to adjust. It’s just as important to decrease the weight and increase the reps at the end of the workout as a way to safely cool down the body.

Explode: If this isn’t your first powerlifting workout, you’re probably already used to this, but we recommend using explosive pulls and putting as much force as you can behind the bar. Don’t forget to be safe, of course.

Train Your Grip: The last thing you want is to miss out on a new personal best because your grip strength wasn’t up to par. Be sure to incorporate grip strength training into your weekly routine. Check out our article on how to the benefits of grip strength training for powerlifting.

Keep it Interesting: Single-rep training can be a great methodology for other types of training outside of powerlifting. You can use it for traditional bodybuilding, sports conditioning, and Olympic-style weightlifting (CrossFit). Beyond that, make sure to always vary your workouts. Shorten rest breaks, try drop sets with singles, and consider thick bar training.

HAVE YOU BEEN USING SINGLE-REP TRAINING?

If so, what benefits have you noticed? Do you have a new personal best thanks to single-rep training? Got proof? Have a video of yourself crushing your single-rep training? Tag us on Instagram so we can share!

 

REFERENCES

  1. Mangine GT, Hoffman JR, Gonzalez AM, et al. The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiol Rep. 2015;3(8):e12472. doi:10.14814/phy2.12472.