Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why Max Testing Lifts is a Waste of Time for Athletes

Hello Everyone!

Even though max testing lifts like the Back Squat, Bench Press, and Clean is a common practice in many weight rooms I believe it is a waste of time of what otherwise could have been a great lifting/training session. 

Max Testing, for those that are unclear, is often where you have athletes buildup to a weight that they think they could do for one good rep and that's it. Hence their max weight in that exercise.

Many coaches argue that this process is necessary in order to figure out what weights an athlete should be lifting with later on in their program. But if this was true, then shouldn't the coach max test EVERY lift for the athlete? If they have to have this max number to figure out their training weights then they must be max testing every single exercise that the athlete is going to be doing in the upcoming training program right? Wrong. These same coaches only test certain, what I like to call, "big boy exercises" like the Bench Press and Back Squat. Please don't lie to me and tell me you need to max test these lifts in order to actually create a working lifting program for the athletes. I'd rather these coaches be honest and just say that every once in awhile they like to let the egos fly, grunt, stomp their feet, and turn the weight room into a high-energy rodeo where everyone that is not lifting stands around and yells and cheers on the lifter going for that 8-second ride with a bull known as the 500 lbs Back Squat.

Look at all those athletes standing around not getting better.
Photo Credit: youtube.com
To be fair, if coaches want to use max testing days to motivate athletes through the sometimes long grind of the off-season, that's understandable. But I have never resorted to this form of motivation and never will, it is not worth the risk in my opinion.

There are many other ways to motivate your athletes.
This is a huge waste of value time, one athlete lifts while the whole team watches.
Photo: powerathlethq.com 
What risk am I referring too? The risk of injury. No matter how well an athlete warmups, when you have athletes going all out with heavy weights you certainly increase the risk of injury. One miss-timed breath, one over zealous athlete, one off-balance setup can mean long term disaster for an athlete. To me this risk of serious injury just for a number to tell your friends, family, significant others, and anyone else that cares to hear how much you can lift, is just not worth it to me. And this is assuming that everyone lifts with good form! It is hard enough to coach athletes to lift with proper form with sub-maximal weight, let along coach them on safe, proper form when they go all out.

This is NOT how you catch a Clean. The spotter can not save this athlete's knees.
Photo Credit: bretcontreras.com
So if you don't need to max test to be able to program training weights for athletes, and if you put your athletes at a high level of risk just for a number, then why not just go with a great, regular training session that will add repetition to your athletes' bodies, increase their experience, and continue their overall strength development? That's what I prefer. To focus on training, repetition, and development! A good program will have the athletes work up towards their 85-90% effort, notice I didn't say 85-90% of their max, perceived effort of exertion is a powerful enough tool to get athletes results.

I understand I may have ruffled some feathers with this post. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments in the section below!

Keep Training!
Coach Amanda Kephart

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