Current Guidelines Resistance Training in Children Brief background- Resistance Training for children has long had a reputation of being unsafe, potentially harmful and seen for mature, elite athletes only. Fears of injury and growth problems plagued it's popularity. For the purposes of this article children are defined as those that have not yet developed secondary sex characteristics, usually boys up to 13 years and girls up to 11 years. This is a period of rapid growth and preceeds the adolescence stage of life. A growing body of evidence and position stands, now support the notion that resistance training is indeed safe and beneficial for children.
Current recommendations suggest that school-aged youth should participate daily in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity that is developmentally appropriate, enjoyable, and involves a variety of activities.
Resistance training is defined as controlled, specific movements performed with resistive loads and may comprise of free weights, machine based exercises, resistance bands, medicine balls and body weight exercises. Resistance training may be performed for a variety of reasons however, the individual and their specific goals must be taken into account when designing a resistance training program.
Benefits of Resistance Training for Children
1. Increase muscle strength & Endurance 2. Increase bone mass 3. Improve body composition 4. Improve blood lipid profile 5. Increase injury resistance 6. Improve motor skills 7. Enhance mental health and wellbeing 8. Encourage lifestyle changes early
Common Resistance Training Misconceptions
1. Resistance training will stunt the growth of children. Fact: Current observations indicate no evidence of a decrease in stature in children who regularly perform resistance exercise in a controlled environment. Furthermore, a growth plate fracture has not been reported in any youth resistance training study. 2: Youth resistance training is unsafe. Fact: Risks associated with youth resistance training are not greater than other activities in which children and adolescents regularly participate. Consider the forces applied to the musculoskeletal system in a controlled progressive fashion compared to uncontrolled contact sport. 3 : The sport of weightlifting is inappropriate for children. Fact: Current findings suggest that youth can successfully perform these lifts and benefit from participating in this sport provided that the focus remains on proper form and technique and appropriate weights are used in practice and competition
RecommendationsTABLE 1. General youth resistance training guidelines. 1) Provide qualified instruction and supervision. 2) Ensure the exercise environment is safe and free of hazard. 3) Start each training session with a 10 minute dynamic warm-up period. 4) Begin with relatively light loads and focus on the correct exercise technique. 5) Perform 1–3 sets of 6–15 repetitions on a variety of upper and lower-body strength exercises. 6) Focus on symmetrical muscular development and appropriate muscle balance around joints. 7) Include specific exercises that strengthen the abdominal and lower back region. 8) Sensibly progress the training program depending on needs, goals, and abilities. 9) Increase the resistance gradually (5–10%) as strength improves. 10) Cool down with less intense exercise and static stretching. 11) Listen to individual needs and concerns throughout each session. 12) Begin resistance training 2–3 times per week on nonconsecutive days. 13) Use individualized workout logs to monitor progress. 14) Keep the program fresh and challenging by systematically varying the training program. 15) Support and encouragement from instructors and parents will help maintain interest
- Sample Program
Warm-up 5-15min Aerobic Activity & Active Stretches
|Swiss Ball Wall Squats||2||12-15||60-70%|
|Swiss Ball Leg Curls||2||12-15||60-70%|
|Swiss Ball Pushups||2||12-15||60-70%|
|Abdominals- Cable Rotations||2-3||12-15||60-70%|
|Abdominals- Pelvic Stability||2-3||30-90sec time based||bodyweight +/-|
Warm-Down 5-15min Aerobic Activity & Static Stretches
Further Reading / Information sources References
- The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/pages/default.aspx
- Sports Medicine Australia. http://sma.org.au/
- Australian Strength & Conditioning Association. http://www.strengthandconditioning.org/
- National Strength and Conditioning Association. http://www.nsca-lift.org/HotTopic/download/Youth%20Hot%20Topics.pdf