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6RM Bench Press Test

The 6RM (rep max) bench press test is used to measure the strength of a clients pushing muscles. The same formula can be used for other resistance exercises. This page shows you how to apply the formula for the bench press.

The purpose of the 6RM bench press test is to measure the maximum strength of the client’s pushing muscles (chest, shoulders and triceps) for this repetition range.  It is an alterative to the 1RM test and is considered much safer due to the lighter loads that will be lifted.

personal training bench pressEquipment required:  Bench with safety, bar and various free weights.

Description/procedure:  The client should perform an adequate warm-up.  An example would be to warm up with 6-10 reps at an RPE of 5/10 or 50% of their estimated 6RM.  Then after a 1 minute rest perform a heavier warm-up set of 4-8 reps at an RPE of 7/10 or 70% of their estimated 6RM.  Rest for >2 minutes and perform a 3rd warm-up set of 3-6 reps at an RPE of 9/10 or 90% of their estimated 6RM.

The client should then rest for 2-5 minutes before performing the 6RM test at an RPE of 10/10 or 100-105% of their estimated 6RM.  If the lift is successful rest for 2-4 minutes and increase the load by 2.5-5% and attempt another lift.  If the client fails to perform the lift with correct technique rest for 2-4 minutes and attempt a weight 2.5-5% lower.  Keep increasing and decreasing the weight until a maximum lift is performed.  The selection of the starting weight is crucial so that the maximum lift is completed within approximately five attempts after the warm-up sets.

Bear in mind that this test will be very time consuming and as such its usefullness for the vast majority of clients is seriously questionable.

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