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Expert Panel Issues Resistance Training Guidelines For Children and Adolescents

The 2014 International Consensus position statement says childhood ideal time to begin supervised program

Rest intervals during training sessions (between sets)

~ Children recover more quickly: Research indicates that children can recover more quickly from fatigue-inducing resistance training and, because their muscle tissue is more pliable, are less likely to suffer muscle damage following this form of exercise.

~ 1 minute rest periods enough for most children, although the rest period may need to be increased to 2-3 minutes as the intensity of training increases, especially if the exercises require a higher level of skill, force or power production (e.g. weightlifting or plyometric exercises).  Again, with the caveat that within-session resistance training performance should, however, always be monitored to ensure that correct technique is maintained throughout the training session.

~ Warning: commercial metabolic high-intensity resistance training programs characterized by insufficient recovery between sets and exercise may result in the performance of potentially injurious exercise movements.

Training frequency (number of sessions within a week)

~ Adequate time for rest and recovery between sessions needed.  Remember: youth are still growing and developing, resistance training programs should provide .

~ 2-3 sessions per week on non-consecutive days is most appropriate to develop muscular strength levels in children and adolescents.

~ Close monitoring of youth participating in resistance training with high training frequency.

~  Training frequency may increase as children go through adolescence and approach adulthood, especially for youth in competitive sport.

~  Sampling and exposure to a variety of physical activity experiences is recommended to help promote long-term physical development,

~  Parents, coaches and fitness professionals should be aware of the potential difficulties when youth participate in numerous activities resulting in the accumulation of high exercise volumes.

~  For youth participating in competitive sports, in-season resistance training is needed to maintain gains in muscular fitness and reduce injury-risk. However, to reduce the chances of non-functional overreaching or overtraining, and to allow natural growth processes to occur, resistance training should not simply be viewed as an additional training session within the overall youth training programme, but as an alternative commitment in place of sport-specific training sessions and/or competitive fixtures.

~  Depending on the competitive demands of the sport, anywhere between one and three resistance training sessions should be completed in-season to enable the development (or at least the maintenance) of previously acquired strength gains, and to allow adequate time for rest and recovery.

~  Increased lesson time in physical education, taught by well-trained specialists may hold a realistic and evidenced-based opportunity to increase muscle strength and motor skill competency, which would facilitate an overall improvement in general physical fitness. Research demonstrates that exposure to resistance training with qualified supervision during exercise lessons or physical education classes does not have an adverse effect on after-school performance in adolescent athletes.

Repetition velocity

~  While moderate movement velocities may typically be recommended for youth when learning new movements or exercises, there is also a need to promote the intention to move quickly to develop motor unit recruitment patterns and firing frequencies within the neuromuscular system.

~  A child with limited training experience may need to perform resistance exercises with a moderate speed to maximise control and ensure correct technical development (eg, limb alignment, maintenance of correct posture); however, a participant with a training history of several months should be exposed to much greater movement velocities.

~  Repetition velocities may also fluctuate within a session; for example, the movement preparation phase (including low load technical warm-up exercises) may consist of slower, controlled movements, however, the main strength and power exercises (inclusive of weightlifting and plyometric exercises) will involve rapid movement speeds. For resistance training exercises, the mass of the resistance will govern the velocity at which the movement is performed. Although heavy strength development exercises such as squatting, deadlifting, pressing and pulling will typically involve slower movement velocities, there should always be an intention to move as explosively as possible to promote appropriate neuromuscular adaptations and to maximise the transfer of training effect, providing the individual can demonstrate appropriate technique.  The development of high velocity movement may be especially important during the growing years when neural plasticity and motor coordination are most sensitive to change.


Loyd RS, Faigenbaum AD, Stone MH, et al. Position statement on youth resistance training: the 2014 International Consensus. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:498-505. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092952