Youth Weightlifters and Maxing Out
We often get asked the question:
“How heavy do you go with the kids and do you let them max out?”
The answer is: based on where the lifter is at in terms of age and ability level and how the lifter is looking on that given day. For our kids who are new to the sport of weightlifting, we do not let them max out and they pull from the hang for the first 3-6 months of their lifting.
For the kids who have been lifting with us for a while and have shown the ability to handle heavier weights we always have a complex consisting of a snatch or clean and jerk plus some sort of squat variation. These complexes keep the weight to a manageable level and give the kids a challenging set of movements to complete, it builds their base and works on their technical abilities.
One day a week we go “heavy” with the kids. On this day we have the kids work up to a percentage of their best lift for snatch and then for clean and jerk (this may be their best double or triple). Once they achieve that percentage they are required to hit it five times with perfect technique and if they hit it all five times with no misses they are allowed to move up 1kg/2.2lbs at a time. If they do not then they are finished for the day and will try again the following week. This keeps the weight to a manageable level and gives the lifter the opportunity to hit a ton of lifts, which builds on the consistency and ability of the lifter to maintain technical accuracy as the load increases. Consistency matters, heavy weights all the time do not.
It’s incredibly important to keep the kids under a load that is manageable yet challenging for them. It is absolutely imperative that the coach watches the child and makes the determination for them as to whether they are ready and capable of making the next lift. Kids always want to go heavier. It’s the coaches responsibility to ensure they do this in a safe way.