A Novel Assessment Technique Does Not Produce More Reliable Estimates of Maximal Neuromuscular Strength

Andrew N.L. Buskard, Kirk B. Roberson, Joseph F. Signorile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurate determinations of individuals’ one-repetition maximum (1RM) are critical when evaluating the effectiveness of an exercise intervention involving progressive resistance training (RT). Traditional (“bottom-up”; BT) testing methods involve progressions from low to maximal loads and are commonly used in clinical and laboratory environments. Concerns about the reliability of BT testing in certain populations suggest a different technique may be more effective. Purpose: To compare the reliability and effectiveness of traditional 1RM testing to a novel technique (TDT) involving progressive load reductions and a starting intensity equal to 130% of exercisers’ estimated 1RM. Method: 70 healthy adults (age = 45.03 ± 25.64 y) with diverse RT experience were randomized into a reliability testing trial (RTT; n = 33) or an optimal method trial (OMT; n = 37). Subjects in the RTT performed either TDT or BT on 3 occasions separated by ≥ 72 hours, while subjects in the OMT performed each method once in random order on separate days. Results: No significant differences in percent coefficient of variation were observed between BT and TDT for either exercise used in the study (pneumatic seated chest press: Hedge’s g = 0.25, p = .49; pneumatic recumbent leg press: Hedge’s g = 0.12, p = .74). TDT was not found to produce significantly higher 1RM values than BT in any group. Conclusion: TDT does not appear to facilitate more reliable 1RM estimates than BT. Further research is needed to determine the stability of these findings across levels of exercisers’ age, sex, and previous RT experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
StatePublished - 2020


  • Methodological comparison
  • resistance training
  • top-down 1RM testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Nephrology


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