Resistance Training in Youth - Benefits and Characteristics
1. University of Education, Upper Austria, Division of Physical Education, Linz, Austria
2. Private Educational College - Edith Stein, Division of Physical Education, Stams, Austria
3. Leopold-Franzens-University Innsbruck, Institute for Sports Science, Austria
Insufficient physical activity (PA) is one of the major health risks in the 21st century. Along with secular trends of lower PA in youth there have been significant declines in muscular fitness over the last decades. PA recommendations, nevertheless, focus predominantly on aerobic exercise. Despite research showing no harm or increased injury risk with resistance exercise there remain concerns about the implementation of resistance training in youth. Properly administered resistance training, however, has been associated with lower injury risk compared to various other physical activity youth generally engage in. Resistance training has also been shown to provide important complementary health benefits to aerobic exercise. In addition to beneficial effects on muscular strength and power, resistance training has been associated with increased bone mineral density, reduced risk for chronic disease markers and improved psychological well-being. Resistance training further appears to facilitate a sustainable participation in various physical activities. Even though hypertrophic effects may be limited in children, relative strength gains have been similar between children, adolescents and adults. The utilization of adult resistance training programs, however, is not applicable in youth. Ensuring postural balance along with proper exercise technique are crucial components of resistance training in youth. In addition, individual needs and maturational readiness need to be considered in developing age appropriate resistance training programs that will promote a sustainable participation in PA throughout youth and into adulthood.
Keywords: children, adolescence, strength training, resistance exercise, active lifestyle, chronic disease risk