How to Estimate Your 1 Rep Max
Written by Fritz Nugent

I know you all love math as much as I do, so I decided to share with you all the numbers that flow through my head during weightlifting class. 

What is your 1 Rep Max Potential?

How do you determine your potential for snatch and clean and jerk based off of your squat maxes?  

Here’s the math. You can start with your squats.

Estimate Your 1 Rep Max Front Squat Potential from Your Back Squat

Front squat should be about 80% of your back squat. If your front squat and back squat are almost the same (greater than 80%), then you may have strong quads and a weak posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and adductors). This type of athlete’s back squat and deadlift maximums will often be similar. If your back squat is way higher than your front squat, then you may be missing out on some quad strength and are a hip-dominant athlete. With this type of athlete, there is usually a large difference between back squat and deadlift, with the deadlift much higher. So based off of your back squat, you can estimate where your front squat should be. 

Estimate Your 1 Rep Max Clean & Jerk Potential from Your Front Squat

Take 90% of your front squat 1RM and you have your 1RM clean potential. If you have a strong jerk, you should be able to jerk that weight, too. 

Estimate Your 1 Rep Max Snatch Potential from Your Clean & Jerk

And any well-balanced Olympic weightlifter’s snatch should be about 80% of their clean and jerk!  

Example of a Balanced Athlete’s Numbers

Here’s an illustration of a hypothetical well-balanced athlete with sound technique:

– 350 lb Deadlift

– 300 lb Back Squat (85% of Deadlift)

– 240 lb Front Squat (80% of Back Squat)

– 216 lb Clean and Jerk (90% of Front Squat)

– 172 lb Snatch (80% of Clean and Jerk)

If I saw those numbers for an athlete, I would say, “Wow, you’re a really well-balanced athlete”

Example of an Athlete With Potential for Higher Oly Lifts

What I see most of the time, even with very good lifters, are discrepancies. For example:

– 270 lb Deadlift

– 240 lb Back Squat (89% of Deadlift, suggesting weak posterior chain)

– 220 lb Front Squat (92% of Back Squat, suggesting a weak posterior chain)

– 175 lb Clean and Jerk (80% of Front Squat, suggesting their technique on the Clean and/or Jerk needs work because they are 23 lbs below where they COULD be with optimal technique)

– 130 lb Snatch (74% of Clean and Jerk, and remember that C&J is below where it should be, so this snatch is way below their potential based on their squat strength. Technical improvements here would yield significant gains!)

Example of an Athlete With Potential for Improved Strength Balance

Now, let’s get personal. I was not a great weightlifter. I loved weightlifting, and I still do. Here are my PR’s from when I was training heavily (not current):

– 486 lb Deadlift

– 365 lb Back Squat (75% of Deadlift, suggests very posterior-chain dominant. Side note: I could Power Clean 290 and only Clean 275)

– 276 lb Front Squat (76% of Back Squat, suggests weak anterior chain strength, limb lengths not suited for squatting, and limited joint range of motion)

– 275 lb Clean and Jerk (99.6% of Front Squat, suggests my Clean technique is really, really good, but if my front squat was where it COULD have been, my clean could also have been higher)

– 222 lb Snatch (81% of C&J, suggests my training was well-balanced)

How Much Should You be Able to Snatch and Clean & Jerk?

What are your PR’s? I’d be happy to do an assessment for you to show you where you stack up, and what your potential is.  Send me your data!


Back Squat

Front Squat

Clean and Jerk


Everyone is Different – Train Based on Your Goals

Something interesting to keep in mind with these ratios is that everyone is a little different, and some people are VERY different. 

Take me for an example: my quads might have been weak, or maybe I have poor ankle mobility and long femurs…I do, from years of track and field. In that sport, long femurs are an advantage to many events in the decathlon, and poor ankle mobility could be tied to increased muscle-tendon stiffness of the ankle joint which is an advantage by increasing ground reaction force, which increases sprint speed. A decathlete who can sprint faster garners big points in the 100m and 400m, long jumps further, pole vaults higher, and those stiff tendons also allow for a higher high jump and quicker force transfer during throwing events like the shot put, discus, and javelin. One could argue that even the 1500m, the final event in the decathlon, is positively affected by increases in rate of force development facilitated by muscle tendon stiffness

Moral of the story here is to keep in mind the athlete’s goals. If success in Olympic Weightlifting is paramount, then I’d better shorten my femurs and mobilize the shit outta my ankles! 😉