Why your 1RM is important.
March is also the time that we begin to ramp up our strength classes, and one of the tools that we utilize from now until the end of the year is an athletes 1RM. Identifying the 1RM on "power lifts" like bench press, squats, deadlifts, and cleans has for many years been the gold standard for creating advanced program design for athletes of all levels. Establishing an athletes 1RM is what allows us as strength coaches to use periodization to guide and manage an athletes training regiment.
To promote long term training improvements and avoid over-training, an overall training program can be split into specific periods with their own objectives training parameters. This concept is called periodization and it is the most effective approach to planning strength training programs, periodization generally consists of :
Preparation Period (Pre-season)
Competition Period (In-season)
Transition Period (Off / closed-season)
By co-ordinating the different elements of a strength training program with the phases of a typical season, the athlete can reach a peak for the start of the competitive season and most important parts of year. Just as an overall season is split into distinct periods or phases so is the development of sport-specific strength. As mentioned earlier, it makes sense to develop certain types of strength before others. Here are the phases, in order, of an overall strength training program (which also lasts a year) and how they should coincide with phases of a typical season above:
Phase 1 - Basic Strength
Training for many sports can have an unbalancing effect on the body's musculoskeletal system. One side of the body may become stronger than the other, agonists may be overly strong compared to antagonists and smaller muscle groups are often neglected. Left unchecked these imbalances can compound and may lead to chronic and acute injury. A period of basic strength training should occur at the start of the preparation period (early pre-season). For less experienced athletes it may be necessary to start during the transition period (closed season).
Phase 2 - Maximum Strength / Hypertrophy
Most athletes benefit from a period of maximal strength training. The length of this phase will vary depending on the sport. Strength and power athletes will spend more time in this phase compared to endurance athletes for example. If a period of hypertrophy training is required (i.e. football or rugby players) it usually occurs before maximal strength training. Hypertrophy and maximal strength training programs usually occur midway through the preparation phase (pre-season).
Phase 3 - Conversion
Until this point strength training has been generic in nature. To be effective however, this general base of strength must converted into sport-specific power or muscular endurance or both. The conversion of maximal strength occurs late in the preparation phase and may continue into the start of the competitive season.
Phase 4 - Maintenance
When strength training stops the benefits gained previously quickly diminish. In order to avoid this detraining effect a certain level of conditioning is required to maintain the gains made in the preparation phase. Fortunately, the volume required to maintain strength is less than that required to build it. But with the onset of competitive matches and events, plus a greater emphasis on tactical and skill-based training, less time is available for strength conditioning and sufficient recovery. The maintenance phase occurs throughout the competitive season.
Phase 5 - Active Recovery
Following a strenuous season, a break from structured training and the rigours of competition is crucial for physical and mental respite. This can mean a complete break from all types of strength training programs for several weeks. Any longer than 3-4 weeks however, and fitness, particularly strength and power, diminishes rapidly. The active recovery phase occurs in the transition period (off / closed season).
A Maximal Strength Assessment or 1RM Strenth Test shouldn't be used as a measure of overall athletic performance, but instead as a tool that allows for optimal athletic program design. At Northwest Fitness we utilize the standard protocol of the National Strength & Conditioning Association for projecting a 1RM along with established Strength Standards (MEN'S & WOMEN'S) to develop individualized program design. For more information or schedule a consultation CONTACT US.