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What is 1 Rep Max Living and How Can You Avoid This?

No, this has nothing to do with lifting a 400 lb barbell from the ground. When I worked in a hospital based Long Term Care setting this is something I referenced daily. Lately we’ve been talking about this more in the clinic on how this even affects the community of people that we work with. The reality of it is that “1 rep max living” is why most people end up in an assisted living facility or long term care home. It also is a precursor for decline in mental health due to lack of social connection and isolation due to shame and fear.

What is 1 Rep Max Living?

At a very basic level it looks like this:

“I can’t schedule 2 appointments in one day because it will tire me out”

“I can’t work out on days I do laundry”

“If I do yard work my back will be messed up for a week, so I can’t make plans”

“I’m scared to go on this trip with my family because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up on the hike”

Essentially, it’s when doing a daily task that you wouldn’t have thought twice about before tires you to the point that it affects everything else you do that day or that week. What it really means is that you’re getting close to your capacity to not only complete tasks that are essential for living, but they’re affecting your social life and things you enjoy doing as well. You have to start saying “no” to more things to conserve your own energy.

If you’re in your 30’s or 40’s reading this thinking it doesn’t affect you…think again. If you’re internally thinking “there’s a chance I could throw my back out shoveling” or “I need to get to the pickleball court extra early to warm my achilles and hamstring up to make sure I don’t pull anything” – you’re already on your way there.

You might think this day is far off in the future, but why wouldn’t you start trying to mitigate these things now? Help your future self. Help your future kids. How can you not only live longer, but ENJOY it and not be held back by your physical health? Even if you don’t want to do crazy things like run a marathon when you’re 75, wouldn’t you like the freedom to be able to do whatever you want? It’s a freeing feeling to just have the choice to do it if you want to.

Playing offense vs defense here is the key. You guessed it, guided strength training is the answer here. You do not need to be a body builder, but you do need to be able to meet the demands of life to maintain independence and the freedom of choice. I would argue the mental effects and the slow tethering of social connection of being unable to say “yes” to things outweigh the physical effects.

This is something we address every single day in the clinic.  If you’re someone who knows it’s time to take action and alter the trajectory of your health and wellness journey, we’re here for you. It’s never too early, and it’s definitely not too late.


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