T Nation

Should Athletes Lift Their 1RM?


I'm a basketballer trying to improve lower and upper body explosive power. Should I train with 1RM's (powerlift) or not?

I figure they can't hurt for e.powerm unless you injure yourself or overdo them obviously, but can they help?

Or are they not speedy enough for my goals (jump, speed, shooting range..)?


I was wondering, do you guys know if olympic athletes have "special" training methods we don't know of? Or is it all genetics with some common training?


I wouldn't consider lifting your 1RM a real workout. Try using 80-90% in a hybrid hypertrophy type method. The 10x3 method works well for me.


Yes training 1RM is a great way to develop power, just be sure to include some speed work as well (ie. 50% 1RM working on explosive power).


Yes training 1RM is a great way to develop power, just be sure to include some speed work as well (ie. 50% 1RM working on explosiveness).


Well thats interesting. I guess max effort work is similar to wipping your ass.

What is necessary for you depends on where you're at in your training and development. You need work done at a high intensity, but also much work with an emphasis on velocity. If you are fast but weak, you need heavier lifting, if you are strong but slow, or need to gain size then your training needs to cater to those needs. For a basketball player I wouldnt recommend lots of 1 rm max lifting, but definatley some work abouve 90% is needed for overal strength development.


Athletes should lift with near 1RMs at times, but not all the time. Explosive power is better developed using lighter weights and moving them quickly. You are trying to teach your body to move explosively in a loaded state so that when you are unloaded skills like jumping, sprinting, etc. are improved. Try exercies like power cleans, power snatches, push press, hill sprints, sled drag sprints (don't go nuts on weight here), and plyometrics for increasing power production. Periodize power workouts with limit strength and hypertrophy for complete training.



I think this thread made Dave Tate vomit. Thanks guys.


check out the Westside workout schedule. John DeFranco's Westside for skinny bastards may be just what you need.
If you learn about how Westside works, you will better understand how 1RM fits into overall strength development.

I agree that Dave Tate would flip reading some of the posts here


You mean "Whipping"?
As in:


Or Possibly?

You want to do one of those to my ass? That's just disgusting.


"wiping" dumbass lol. Why do you think like that?


He used two P's so I was under the impression that he was making a corny joke. I also have a dirty mind.


Dare I make Dave Tate vomit, but here I go. I think that athletes should rarely, if ever, train for 1 RM's. Sorry not to walk the party line here, but a 1 RM is a skill, more than anything else. It is a highly refined skill and requires a lot of know how and practice in how to do correctly and safely. Most of the trainees out there, when training for maximal strength for sports, would get just as much out of doing 3-5 rep max sets.

Athletes use maximal strength as a means to an end. The only sport in which maximal strength is the beginning and end is powerlifting. While maximal strength is the foundation for all other physical strength (speed strength, strength speed, power, power endurance etc.) you can achieve it quite well by not going to a 1 RM.

1 RM's have a higher level of risk when compared to 3 to 5 RM's. Since the athlete can achieve just as much with a 3 to 5 rep max (maybe the exception being shotputters), why even bother taking the extra risk.

I want to state again that 1 RMs are more a blend of skill and strength, than they are a sole expression of strength alone. It takes years and years to learn to properly do a correct
1 RM. The reason why the westside guys do it so much is because it is about as specific to their sport as they can get.

Nobody goes into a powerlifting contest to do a 3RM, and that is why powerlifter make 1 RM's the majority of their training. Even the westside guys don't do 1RM maximal effort all the time, it beats the shit out of your body. I have read those guys training logs and often they use 3-5 RM sets or avoid maximal effort all together when they are injured, burned out, or comming back from a layoff, overtraining period, or contest.
when I went to the force training seminar in new jersey, I was amazed at the amount of technique, strategy, and tricks that go into competitive powerlifting. Powerlifting 1 RM's is a sport because each of those exercises if done correctly is a skill.

Even Joe Defranco has said that sometimes the best way for an athlete to do an exercise is not always the best way to lift the most weight. Coach Thib may have even said that too. I would argue the same applies to training methods.

Basketball players need to learn the skills to play basketball. Sure they need to learn the basic skills to squat correctly, but they don't need to spend their time learning nuances of the lifts that are only applicable to the sport of powerlifting.
Basketball doesn't require just maximal strength or maximal power, but more so, maximal strength endurance and power endurance. They need to be able to jump to a high level multiple times a game, not just one massive high jump for 10 seconds. For that reason, maximal strength should be developed to a point to which it contributes but does not take away from that endurance. Using heavy but not maximal weights for low reps and multiple sets would address this need much more, as would single leg strength provided from heavy, moderate to low rep (4 to 8) single leg (bulgarian) split squats.

Also more time should be spent developing the glutes and hammies (ala posterior chain) than on developing 1 RM skill.
I would agree that 1 RM training does have benefits that extend beyond just demonstrating strength, but those benefits would not be applicable here.


He hit the nail.


I agree strength endurance is often underrated. But when it comes to physical abilities, explosiveness will give you the better edge in the end.

Most players can play a full game at near full speed, but explosiveness is so important and sought after, that some players are now millionaires 90% thanks to their explosiveness (Darius Miles, Gerald Wallace are your basic examples.)


why should a basketball player train explosiveness in the gym when he gets enough of that during practice and games? why should a baller train endurance in the gym when he gets enough of that during practice and games?

train for maximal strength in the gym.

maximal strength is the king of all strengths. after general physical preparedness is in place, maximal strength developement is important for every other aspect on the strength-power continuum.

mikeshank kept this thread from being an utter waste.


I would just like to add that there is a world of difference between competition 1RM in one of the powerlifts and testing your max at the gym.

If you don't plan on competing in PL, you can still use singles, both for testing and developing maximal strenght. Just don't psyche your self out, use the best form possible and don't grind.


Read Chad Waterbury's article on T-Nation called Singles Club. In this article he suggests 14 singles with 2 minute rest inbetween at your 3RM maximum. It is different but works well, particularly at stimulating the CNS.


slotan, I respect what you said, because it is true. but given ego's how many guys you know are going to do that. I know that when I am doing singles, I want to find out the most that I can do.
Charles Staley turned my onto the concept of strength reserve and that has been one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp because my attitude of "I gotta work till my body is about to explode" always seems to be getting in the way. It is only until recently that I have developed the maturity to leave a couple in the tank.


I certainly developed a much better vertical leap from doing power cleans 1 to 3 reps than I ever got from playing basketball everyday for hours.

I don't suppose that's Adonal Foyle who started this thread......?


why do you think that is?