Maximal number of repetitions at percentages of the one repetition maximum: a meta-regression and moderator analysis of sex, age, training status, and exercise

James L. Nuzzo, Matheus D. Pinto, Kazunori Nosaka, James Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The maximal number of repetitions that can be completed at various percentages of the one repetition maximum (1RM) [REPS ~ %1RM relationship] is foundational knowledge in resistance exercise programming. The current REPS ~ %1RM relationship is based on few studies and has not incorporated uncertainty into estimations or accounted for between-individuals variation. Therefore, we conducted a meta-regression to estimate the mean and between-individuals standard deviation of the number of repetitions that can be completed at various percentages of 1RM. We also explored if the REPS ~ %1RM relationship is moderated by sex, age, training status, and/or exercise. A total of 952 repetitions-to-failure tests, completed by 7289 individuals in 452 groups from 269 studies, were identified. Study groups were predominantly male (66%), healthy (97%), < 59 years of age (92%), and resistance trained (60%). The bench press (42%) and leg press (14%) were the most commonly studied exercises. The REPS ~ %1RM relationship for mean repetitions and standard deviation of repetitions were best described using natural cubic splines and a linear model, respectively, with mean and standard deviation for repetitions decreasing with increasing %1RM. More repetitions were evident in the leg press than bench press across the loading spectrum, thus separate REPS ~ %1RM tables were developed for these two exercises. Analysis of moderators suggested little influences of sex, age, or training status on the REPS ~ %1RM relationship, thus the general main model REPS ~ %1RM table can be applied to all individuals and to all exercises other than the bench press and leg press. More data are needed to develop REPS ~ %1RM tables for other exercises.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-321
Number of pages19
JournalSports Medicine
Issue number2
Early online date4 Oct 2023
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2023

Cite this