By Trey Yocum

As coaches we all too often, receive the same question. “How much weight should I use?”  The answer to this question is very complex. What is the goal? What is the movement? Is the athlete proficient at the movement? How strong is the athlete?

Without spending hours calculating programs we can follow some simple guidelines. The following are guidelines I use when programming training sessions for gains in strength.

This article was written under the assumption that the end goal is strength. To gain strength we use multi-joint movements such as the back squat. If the athlete cannot perform the movement, they may not be ready for strength work. It will pay off in the long run to reinforce technique before adding weight.

If you know the athlete’s max for the exercise, you can use percentage-based systems. For the best strength gains I use loads greater than or equal to 85% of their max. It is important to understand that this is off of an every day max not a personal record (PR). It is advisable to take 5-10% off of the athletes PR before calculating percents.

If you do not know an athlete’s max you may use sets with lower repetition ranges. Anything with six or less repetitions will work. I prefer using sets of 3-5 repetitions. With younger athletes who can appear to develop on a daily basis, rep ranges might be the best way to go. Give them a target repetition for the set and keep track of the loads used.

Proper strength training will help athletes build a better foundation for whatever they are pursuing. Before any numbers hit the page we need to make sure they move well and have proper technique. As coaches we need to make decisions based on the goal and the athlete!

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