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Youth Resistance Training; What's Suggested.

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

The 2014 international consensus position statement on youth resistance training, Lloyd et al stated “misinformed concerns that resistance training would be harmful to the developing skeleton" have been replaced with statements such as,"childhood may be the opportune time to build bone mass and enhance bone structure by participating in weight-bearing physical activities.” Fortunately, the last 20+ years have realized a shift away from the narrative “resistance training damages adolescents” or “damages growth plates” as these statements continue to fall in the research literature. There is now a plethora of evidence-based recommendations that advocate resistance training for the current and long-term health of the youth and adolescent populations of note; American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67​,000 pediatricians committed to the optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.​ In 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics released this position statement debunking myths of detrimental effects from resistance training, while promoting the positive outcomes emerging in the literature. This piece presented three arguments:

  1. Resistance training should be an essential component of preparatory training for aspiring athletes and,

  2. Participation in resistance training earlier in life correlates with participation later in life and,

  3. Individuals who do not participate in resistance training are likely at increased risk of negative consequences.

Continued, “Developing the technical skill and competency to perform a variety of resistance training exercises at the appropriate intensity and volume, while providing youth with an opportunity to participate in programs that are safe, effective, and enjoyable.”

Just last year (2018) a study by Henriksson et al found that among a cohort of 1.2 million Swedish males (age 16-19), being labeled “unfit, weak, and obese” was associated with an increased risk of disability. This study from Varma et al in 2017 compared physical activity of individuals across the lifespan using data from an accelerometer and reported on average, today’s 16 year olds are about as active as today’s 60 year olds. Accelerometer data has flaws, mainly doing a poor job of measuring resistance training, yet the above is scary for the overall physical activity habits of the general population today. World Health Organization recommendations 5-17 engage in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity/day. Using accelerometer data, Hollis et al concluded that elementary students meet the WHO recommendations an embarrassingly 50% of the time, while Fairclough and Stratton found an even lower participation at 34.2%. This same trend carries on through secondary school, where only 40.5% of physical education class achieved the moderate-vigorous threshold. It should be noted that as a whole, the adolescent population is grossly undertrained i.e. not enough physical activity. In conclusion to pt. 1 of this Youth Resistance Training series, the evidence surely trends in favor of. Part 2. we'll be reviewing data on early sports specialization, markers increasing injury in our youth and more. Jayanthi et al defines “early sports specialization” as: “intense, year round (>8 months) training in a single sport with the exclusion of other sports.” Considering in the United States 75% of families have at least one child who's active in an organized sport, it's likely to be a meaningful topic. Early sports specialization continues to rise with 12% of children <7 participating in sport in 2008, representing an increase from 9% in 1997. While a 3% increase over a decade may seem small, consider how many actual children this represents who are now participating in organized sport before the third grade. According to DiFiori et al, as of 2013, 60 million youth in the US between the ages of 6 and 18 participate in organized sport.


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