Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's Your Max?

This blog has two purposes, one is asking the question do we really know what our athletes maxes are? And second if we don’t know, are we doing our athletes a disservice by not testing them?

I ask the question do we really know what our athletes maxes are because I have been noticing a trend that more and more schools are using estimated maxes. In the past, this technique was used mostly in high school at the freshman and sophomore level but it has been slowly moving to the older athletes and I have been hearing it is being used to a greater extent in the college ranks. I am not saying the technique should not be used. It has many uses and is a great tool. But, when it is the only technique used, I believe we are not giving the athletes a true look at what their maximal strength is. I have been getting more and more athletes through my program both in person and athletes that I plan programs for that give me these estimated maxes but cannot really lift that weight. Many times I have found the athlete to be 20-30 and even 40 pounds off the estimated weight. This can be very significant considering that if the athletes max was say 250lbs and they could really only do 220lbs. This is more then a 10% mistake, and if these maxes are used for calculating workouts through out the week, in most cases the athlete would not be getting the proper stimulus.

This leads into the next question. Is this a disservice to the athlete? In my opinion the answer is yes. If they do not perform true maximal’s at least a few times a year, the athlete may never know where they really stand and when they move onto the next level have to move backwards in order to move forward. This can be very frustrating. In many instances, if we are able to get the athlete on track and work from their true maxes, the athlete sees greater gains in shorter periods of time, as well as, giving the athlete a greater confidence in their lifting ability.

I just want to leave you with one more thought. As coaches, would we be ok if we used estimates of speed or velocity????????

Brian Niswender, MA, CSCS

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