I know a big question I had when I first started powerlifting was what percentage of my 1RM should I be able to do on different variations, and I don’t think I am alone in that. As powerlifters we know our 1RM competition squat, bench, and deadlift, but for all the variations and bar placements changes, it’s usually just a guess. But over my course of coaching experience, I’ve programmed for enough athletes now that I’ve started to see general trends on what percentage 1RM most athletes can perform these variations at. These are not universal and there will 100% be outliers above and below what I recommend, so it always comes down to finding your own individual differences and programming based off that. But I hope the below information can at least give you a starting point, because as far as I know, there is not another article online that breaks this down in this manner. If you would like to dive deeper into how to program these variations, make sure to check out my YouTube video detailing exactly how to implement these within your training: How To Program Variations
Squat (assuming you are a low bar squatter):
% of Competition Squat 1RM
90.0 – 97.5%
The biggest thing that will dictate where you will fall within this range is femur length. Shorter femurs equals a higher % of 1RM on high bar, longer femurs equals a lower %.
87.5 – 90.0%
This seems to be fairly universal, but there is a learning curve. Most athletes will have to start lighter but as they build up they should be able to tolerate around 90.0% of their 1 RM.
97.5 – 100%
Buffalo bar could very well equal 100% of your 1RM comp squat, but just because it has a slightly different feel, I will typically stay conservative and go with 97.5%.
90 – 92.5%
This seems to be fairly universal, but there is a learning curve. Most athletes will have to start lighter but as they build up they should be able to tolerate around 92.5% of their 1 RM.
87.5 – 92.5%
This range will be based on how many reps you are performing. 5 Reps or less it will fall more towards 90-92.5%, and anything over 5 reps will be around 87.5%
92.0 – 94.0%
This seems to be fairly universal.
87.5% – 90%
If someone can perform these correctly, athletes usually can do around 90% of their 1RM, but the fact is most people cannot do these correctly and will use more weight than they should. Typically long femur lifters have a harder time with pin squats and short femur lifters will have an easier time.
80.0 – 87.5%
I do not program these often, so I would say I am less confident on the accuracy of this, but generally this is where I have found front squats to be.
***If you squat high bar, the real main thing that changes is that your Safety Bar squat will now be at 95% of your 1RM.
% of Competition Bench Press 1RM
96.0 – 98%
This is with the assumption of a standard width bench press for most powerlifters. If an athlete’s grip is already close, this % goes up. If they are a max comp width grip, this could very possibly go down. But for the most part 95-97% of their 1RM on close grip bench press will be fairly accurate.
92.5 – 97.0%
This is with the assumption of a standard width bench press for most powerlifters. If an athlete’s grip is already wide, this % goes up. If they use a close grip though, I have found that some people really struggle with wide grip and may have to decrease the percentage down to possibly 92.5%
90.0 – 97%
This range will be based on how many reps you are performing. 3 Reps or less it will fall more towards 94-97%, 4-6 reps around 92-94%, and anything over 6 reps will be around 90%
3 Second Pause
92.5 – 97.0%
This range will be based on how many reps you are performing. 4 Reps or less it will fall more towards 95-97%, and anything over 4 reps will be around 92.5-95%
This seems to be fairly universal. Grip width can change this to an extent, but not by much.
Pin Press 1/2-1 inch off chest
92.5 – 95.0%
This seems to be fairly universal. Those who train with a pause consistently in training tend to be better at pin press, and those who touch and go have a harder time with it.
T-Shirt Touch Press
This seems to be fairly universal. If an athlete soft touches they typically will be better with t-shirt touch press, and if they sink they typically will be worse at it.
Feet Up Or Larsen
90.0 – 95.0%
People tend to be able to do a bit more Larsen than Feet Up, so generally ends up somewhere around this ranged dependent on the variation you use.
100.0 – 107.5%
This will be based off the purpose of the movement. If it is to overload, typically people can handle up to a 7.5% increase over their comp bench press 1RM, sometimes even 10%. If it is used for extra volume work though, or to work around a shoulder/pec injury, then I plan it to equal an athlete’s comp bench press 1 RM.
1 or 2 Board
100.0 – 107.5%
This will be based off their proficiency through this range of motion. Typically athletes can handle over their 1RM on board presses, but that is not always the case. Typically on a 1 board I will program based off their 1RM, but for a 2 board I will start to assume a slight increase up to 7.5% over their comp bench press 1 RM.
% of Competition Deadlift 1RM
Pause off the floor
90.0 – 95.0%
Depending on your positioning off the floor, some people are just really good at this, and some people are really bad. Find which one you are, then program the percentage range based off that.
Pause just below the knees
92.5 – 95.0 %
Typically a bit easier than pausing just off the floor, so there is less deviation here between athletes.
90.0 – 95%
This is for conventional deadlifters. I have never programmed deficit for sumo pullers, nor really would recommend it, so I do not know a % of 1RM for that.
2 Inch Block Pulls
97.5 – 107.5%
If you conventional deadlift, this will be pretty similar to your comp deadlift strength, as 2 inches doesn’t drastically change the movement. Sumo deadlift though you will definitely see a boost, which is the reason for up to 105%. Short arm lifters have the most to gain from those 2 inches, so they possibly could program over their 1RM comp deadlift.
Rack Pulls just below the knee
An athlete should be able to rack pull more than they can comp deadlift, but that range is based off of what these are programmed for. I typically do not program these for lock out work, but rather added posterior chain volume, so I usually keep the % of 1RM fairly close to their comp deadlift. This may also change if you are doing these conventional when you typically pull sumo.
105.0 – 110.0%
Most athletes can trap bar deadlift more than their sumo or conventional deadlift, but typically I have found conventional deadlifters are better with a trap bar, so that is the reason for the percentage range.
75.0 – 85.0%
This seems to be fairly universal, but if there is a difference, I would say conventional deadlifters tend to be a bit better at RDLs in comparison to their 1RM than sumo pullers