Is it effective to find a 1 rep max on adolescent athletes?

Yesterday I saw a great statement from @EricCressey about 1 rep maxes(RM) in adolescent athletes.

“1RM testing a 14-year-old is like driving in Daytona 500 on first day of driver’s ed.”

I got quite a chuckle when I first read this statement. When I further analyzed the statement and tried to truly understand the statement, I found it to be absolutely genius. Think back to when you were 15 years old, and in drivers ed, do you think you were ready to be full throttle at 200 MPH racing 3 wide at Daytona International Speedway? Now look at a 14-year-old athlete whose exercise movement patterns may not be fundamentally correct. There are two possible outcomes to these situations:

1. Failure due to injury
The lack of fundamentals will lead to the proverbial crash into the wall. In the case of the athlete, undue stress will be placed on joints that may not be able to handle the “maximal load”. You may end with back injuries due to improper core bracing or anterior knee pain due to poor knee stabilization techniques.

2. Improper form leads to lower performance
Take another look at the racing example, if you don’t know how to drive the car properly, you will probably fall way behind from the rest of the pack. You may not be able to drive at the average 200 MPH needed to keep up. This same scenario of poor performance can occur while trying to achieve a 1RM with a 14 year-old. The proper form in lifting will allow for greater performance as it is the most efficient path from point A to B.

If you are working with young athletes, quit worrying about the numbers. Start focusing on the fundamentals. You will see greater gains in performance in the long run if you focus on the fundamentals early on and establish good movement patterns.


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