T Nation

Training Max for New Athletes


I’ve read alot of information you’ve posted on here about how your train beginners and athletes and if I missed this answer somewhere, then I apologize.

When you get a brand new athlete come to you, what is your process in setting up their training maxes for each lift if they have never done a 1RM before?

I don’t train any athletes but i can tell you what I do after a month or two of time off. I’m sure the Dark Lord has a better and more specific method. I usually start myself off with a full body A/B/A- B/A/B split and it’s just the bare bones starting strength program. I’ll come in the first day and work up to a heavy(ish) 3x5, but maintaining a decent bar speed. I’ll usually make it 3-4 weeks training like this before things start to feel like they might get ugly. Then i just come in and hit a heavy triple and calculate my max off of that. If I’m feeling antsy and haven’t been out for too long I’ll just work up to a heavy triple and calculate from that. Finding an actual 1RM for me is pretty unnecessary and i don’t like spending the time recovering from it when i could have had better quality training instead. Hope that helps out.

1 Like

In general, we follow an A/B style of programming. So usually we take around 3 or so of each workout before you can make a decision. So let’s use a real person that I trained.

For the bench press and the press - you can find a TM pretty easy. Both lifts are dumb lifts, easy to coach and most people have experience doing a bench press. Also, it’s important to start pretty light and use FSL to build volume. Since people stall on these first for a number of reasons.

For the DL, all I did was work up in what I approx to be 10% jumps until he looked somewhat challenged. Then we stuck around there and just did some work. I kept doing this every time we pulled until I felt that he was ready to work up to a challenging set.

With the squat, it was a nightmare. Fucking horrible form, no awareness. Knees everywhere. So after I accepted his shit form as part of his DNA, I did a couple sets with the bar every training day. This was twice a week. On the “A” day (let’s say his “squat” day) I would use the Prowler or sled to get some quality strength work for his lower body without having to coach technique. I"m not going to waste a day.

I did this for a couple weeks, pounding the bodyweight assistance work, the sled, Prowler, etc.

His first set that he did that was “hard” and “perfect” was 95x5 for a couple sets. It was like everything turned on in his head and body. A little more than a year later he did 185x23. He went from doing 3 max pull-ups to banging out sets of 10, all workout.

So in general, we do a few A/B workouts, working up, making sure they don’t shit the bed, then one can decide on a TM based on bar speed and what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to spend a few workouts learning about them, how they respond, what they like, who they are - all this is part of coaching. There is no need to rush into finding a TM. A few workouts and a keen eye will tell you all you need to know - and if in doubt, go LOW.

Thank you again for your help Jim!