Youth 1RM Strength Testing: The use of velocity trackers

I am currently working with individuals across sports such as Tennis, Gymnastics, Olympic Weightlifting, Boxing, Rugby, Rally and Ultra Endurance. Aside from the final two, such individuals are required to perform short, intermittent explosive actions during their match or event. It has long been accepted that there is a significant relationship between such actions (acceleration, change of direction etc) and strength. For this reason (amongst others), the development of strength using variety of conventional and traditional exercises is sought after, regardless of age.

Unfortunately, the use of strength testing remains controversial for youth players, largely due health and safety risk, but also time constraints and accuracy of such measures.

Fortunately, here at Cheshire Barbell, we are very lucky to have access to some pretty cool technology that help me combat these issues and allow me to calculate one-repetition max (1RM) without having to have the child lift such weight in order to make things less time consuming, more reliable, and a lot safer.

Putting it simply, I can have the young individual perform 5 or more sets with an ascending load, starting with an empty bar and slowly adding a little each set whilst ensuring that bar velocity remains fairly high and therefore clearly avoiding failure and even fatigue. Measuring the bar velocity across a variety of loads allows me to plot a graph and accurately predict their 1rep Max based on a load-velocity profile (figure 1). The ability to do this means that there is no risk of injury through inappropriate loading, I am still able to enforce high technical standards due to the load being light relative to the individual, and it is incredibly time effecte. To add, this type of testing can be conducted at any stage of the athletes season as it is non-fatiguing.

Figure 1: Load-Force-Velocity graph allowing me to accurately predict 1RM

Recently, Navarro, Hernández-Davó and Peña-González (2020) looked into the reliability of 1RM testing using velocity in youths. They found the use of velocity tracking software showed excellent reliability in all trials. They suggested that familiarisation is possible in young athletes in a short period such as three weeks, meaning that a number of tests are required in close succession to establish even more accurate results. For this reason, regular testing using this method may be beneficial in order to obtain accurate and current data. This has no negative impact on time and efficiency during sessions as it can quite easily be integrated into a warm up with good results.

The benefit of obtaining such data allows me to put a structured programme together whilst ensuring that the young individual does not lift to heavy therefore not putting them at risk of injury. It ensures that the stimulus is adequate to obtain the desired adaptations without any unnecessary fatigue, therefore allowing them to go about their technical training without interference from their work in the weight-room. It builds enthusiasm and buy-in when they can physically witness their progress. It helps them set targets and understand the relationship between the training they're doing with me alongside that on the pitch/court/apparatus. Above all, it helps build strong physical and psychological foundations without the need to stress the body, particularly during more vulnerable periods such as pre and during peak-height-velocity.

This study continues to confirm the strong association between high levels of muscular strength, sprinting and jumping, highlighting the importance for continued development and monitoring across a variety of high force low velocity strength movements such as the back squat.

If you're local to us and you'd like to come in as a one-off and have your 1RM calculated using the aforementioned method, I'd be happy to help out. Drop me an email and we can look to arrange your complimentary session / consultation.

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Cheshire Barbell 

Unit 17

Arkwright Court

Arkwright Road




+44 7714 232 915