Benefits of youth training

Research has shown that during the 1970s and 1980s resistance training was not recommended for adolescent athletes, because of the supposed high risk of injury (Faigenbaum, Kraemer, Blimkie, Jeffreys, Mitchell, Nikita, Rowland, 2009). This fear of injuries in youth training was due to data collected by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which reported that in 1979, 35,512 weightlifting injuries occurred and over half of the injuries required emergency room treatment. Also, a 1987 report revealed that 8,590 children between the ages of 14 and under, were taken to the emergency room because of injuries related to weightlifting (Faigenbaum, Kraemer, Cahill, Chandler, Dziados, Elfrink, . . . & Roberts, 1996). It was suggested that youth training had a potential for training-induced damage to the growth cartilage near the endplate of the bones, the cartilage lining the joint surfaces, and the points at which the major tendons attach to the bones (Faigenbaum et al., 2009). However, current scientific data demonstrated that most of the injuries were due to unsupervised and improper use of training equipment, technique, excessive loading, or poorly designed equipment (Faigenbaum et al., 2009).

Recent studies have shown that resistance training has a low risk of injury in preadolescent and adolescent athletes who participate within the age-appropriate training guidelines, are well supervised, are appropriately prescribed, perform correct exercise technique, have a safe training environment, and with gradual exercise progression (Faigenbaum & McFarland, 2008). For example, if a balanced strength and conditioning program is implemented, youth resistance training can improve strength gains up to 74% after an 8 week period of progressive resistance training (Faigenbaum et al., 1996). In addition, regular physical activity has been linked to positive benefits in adolescents such as, improvement in cardiovascular risk, facilitated weight control, enhanced psychosocial well-being, and an increased resistance to sports-related injuries (Faigenbaum & McFarland, 2008). Therefore, demonstrating that a youth resistance training program can be safe and effective, if the strength and conditioning professional is qualified, can properly instruct the participant, and incorporates a stepwise progression of the training program (Faigenbaum et al., 2009).

Faigenbaum, D. A., Kraemer, J. W., Cahill, B., Chandler, J., Dziados, J., Elfrink, D. L., . . . & Roberts, S. (1996). Youth resistance training: Position statement paper and literature review. Strength and Conditioning, 62-76.

Faigenbaum, A., & McFarland, J. (2008). Relative safety of weightlifting movements for youth. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 30(6), 23-25.

Faigenbaum, D. A., Kraemer, J. W., Blimkie, R. J. C., Jeffreys, I., Mitchell, J. L., Nikita, M., & Rowland, W. T. (2009). Youth resistance training: Updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 23(5), 60-79.