Article Review: Resistance Training for youth? Harmful or Harmless?
Article: Zwolski, C., Quatman-Yates, C. and Paterno, M.V., 2017. Resistance training in youth: laying the foundation for injury prevention and physical literacy. Sports health, 9(5), pp.436-443.
Design: Literature Review from 1982 to 2016. Including studies that referenced strength training/resistance training and children or adolescents.
Findings: Resistance Training proved vital for kids development and health as well as long term health past adolescents and childhood. It showed a marked improvement in, muscular strength, power, running speed, kicking velocity, endurance, dynamic balance, flexibility, and general motor performance. As well as this there was a decrease in overall injury risk by 66%, and improving the child's likelihood to continue sport and exercise into adulthood. Most staggering is that they also found a clear improvement in mental health with resistance training in the manner of decreased anxiety, increased confidence and self-esteem.
My Thoughts: There is a clear increase in childhood obesity across the past 30-40 years and a decrease in childhood physical activity. The review found that 30% of children stopped a sport annually and 70% stopped playing sport all together by age 14 with girls dropping out twice as much as boys. This lack of activity is a clear detriment to their motor learning development and coordination. Playing sport does not indicate they are reaching the adequate recommendation of 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Playing a sport may not allow them to reach this duration of activity and therefore resistance training can play a role in addition to team sport.
Girls had a much higher reduction of risk with the inclusion of resistance training. Due to the earlier development of adolescent girls and the limited increase in strength and muscle size due to less testosterone boys receive during puberty, they lack the muscle strength to prevent injury. With resistance training it allows for the development of muscular strength, bone density, neuromuscular control (How well they can control their body in space) but also was show to have a large improvement in young girls self-perception.
They found the recommended age to begin resistance training was when children had the emotional maturity to take and understand instruction. This was generally found to be around the age of 6, disproving the myth the resistance training in kids will stunt growth. The training parameters recommended are 2-3 sets of 8-15 repetitions at 60-80% of 1RM on 6 to 8 exercises.
Funnily enough we offer a junior strength program at Synergy Strength, get in touch if you want your kids to receive the many benefits of resistance training.