Strength Training in the Adolescent Population

Published on: 10/09/2017
What is exercise? Exercise is the physical exertion of the body - making the body perform a physical activity which results in a healthy or healthier level of physical such as cardiovascular exercise (aerobic and anaerobic), strength/resistance training, balance and proprioception training, etc. All forms are unanimously agreed upon to be safe for the general population to engage in except for strength training.

There are many myths circulating regarding weight training in an adolescent population. Some of these myths include:
  • Strength training will decrease flexibility
  • Strength training can damage developing growth plates
  • Strength training will have no effect on a child due to a lack of testosterone in their system
  • Strength training can stunt a child’s growth
  • Strength training will yield no results until puberty

Current research has disproven all of these myths. In fact, doctors now recommend the introduction and involvement of strength training to the adolescent population to foster healthy muscular development and growth. Research studies have shown that the adolescent population sees the same benefits as the adult population when utilizing strength training appropriately. Research has proven that the adolescent population engaging in strength training exercise can see improvements in strength by up to 50% after only eight weeks of consistent training. Growth plate injuries and stunting of growth were not observed in any current research. Resistance training has shown to also improve sports performance, body composition, resistance to injuries, mental health and well-being in the adolescent population.

As with any form of exercise, it is important to note that benefits will only be seen when the exercises are utilized correctly. Utilization of proper equipment, supervision and technique are very important in order to avoid any negative outcomes and injuries. Make sure your child is medically cleared by a physician before starting any exercise program.

References:
  1. Assunção AR, Bottaro M, Ferreira-Junior JB, Izquierdo M, Cadore EL, Gentil P (2016) The Chronic Effects of Low- and High-Intensity Resistance Training on Muscular Fitness in Adolescents. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0160650. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0160650
  2. Dahab KS, McCambridge TM. Strength Training in Children and Adolescents: Raising the Bar for Young Athletes? Sports Health. 2009;1(3):223-226. doi:10.1177/1941738109334215.
  3. Faigenbaum, A.D. (2016, October 07). ACSM. Articles. http://www.acsm.org/public-information/articles/2016/10/07/youth-strength-trainingfacts-and-fallacies
  4. Miller MG, Cheatham CC, Patel ND. Resistance training for adolescents. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2010;57(3):671-682.
  5. Myer, Gregory D.; Wall, Eric J.. Operative Techniques in Sports Medicine; Philadelphia14.3 (2006): 218-230.

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