The 1-6 Principle

Break strength and size barriers with this tried-and-true method


With the 1-6 Principle you perform a maximum single repetition (1RM), rest, and then perform 6 reps using as much weight as you can (6RM). The rest period between sets can range from three to 10 minutes, but you can reduce the rest periods if you perform supersets.

Let’s say your best bench press is 220 pounds for 6 reps and 265 for 1 rep. If you perform that 1RM four minutes prior to a 6RM, you’ll probably be able to use 225–230 pounds. In fact, you’ll use more weight on the second and third 6RM series (i.e., waves) in that workout, as follows:

Set 1: 1 rep with 265 pounds

Set 2: 6 reps with 220 pounds

Set 3: 1 rep with 270 pounds

Set 4: 6 reps with 225 pounds

Set 5: 1 rep with 272.5 pounds

Set 6: 6 reps with 230 pounds

When designing your own 1–6 Principle workouts, you should primarily use exercises that involve large muscle groups, such as squats and presses. Also, because you’re going to be performing a series of 1RM lifts, it’s imperative that you warm up thoroughly. The warmup should always consist of doing reps with the first pair of exercises listed in the workout. If you’ve warmed up properly, there’s very little need to warm up for the second pair. Using our workout example, your squat warmup might be 5 reps x 135 pounds, 3 x 185, 2 x 225, before you start the working sets.

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As with any workout system, you need to change the workout when you reach a point of diminishing returns. As a general guideline, four weeks is about the longest period anyone should follow a program using the 1–6 Principle. Here is one extremely effective training split for a four-week program emphasizing the 1–6 Principle: Day 1, arms; Day 2, legs; Day 2, of; Day 4, chest and back; Day 5, of.

The 1–6 Principle is based on strong science, and for more than two decades I’ve found it especially useful in my work with not only Olympic and professional athletes but also for anyone who wants to shock their muscles into rapid increases in strength and muscle development. Give it a try and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can increase your functional hypertrophy and power. -