Once the exercise has been selected and the sets and reps have been determined, we must now figure out the appropriate load.

It is very common to see high school strength programs adapting the 1-Rep Max percentage method when determining loads. Although this has been proven to work well with more experienced athletes (3 years or more of training), this may not be the best method when dealing with beginning lifters.

The downside to testing 1-Rep Max is that when lifting loads at or near maximum, technique often suffers. Also, when dealing with high school athletes, a 1-Rep Max can change on a daily basis due to the psychological, physiological and biological changes that are constantly occurring in a high school athlete’s body.

So, when dealing with young athletes and novice lifters, instead of incorporating the percentage of 1-Rep Max method, it would be more advisable for a strength and conditioning coach to focus on proper exercise technique, motor control and progression. Once this has been mastered, then loads can and should be adjusted on any given day +/- 2.5 percent of a predicted 1-Rep Max.

In summary, I can’t emphasize how important it is to make sure that proper exercise technique, motor control and progression/regression is when deciding the intensity of a workout, especially with younger, less experienced lifters. As strength and conditioning coaches, we need to stop trying to incorporate what we may have done while playing in college or what we see professional/advanced lifters are doing. We are dealing with kids whose bodies are still growing and developing.

Remember: Anyone can make you tired, not everyone can make you better.

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