A resent study conducted by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology revealed that youth strength trainees experienced enhanced muscle development as a result of strength training. In addition, youth strength trainees may benefit from improved bone mineral density, body composition and blood profiles as well as joint flexibility, motor skills performance, coordination and psychosocial characteristics. The research clearly stated that properly performed and appropriately supervised youth strength training exhibited no evidence of stunted growth, bone growth plate damage, musculoskeletal injury or pain. The authors of the research mentioned that the keys to maximizing strength benefits and minimizing the risk of injury were to provide well-designed and well- supervised exercise programs.
The research study provided 12 general recomendations for safe and effective youth strength training. They are as follows:
* Instruction and supervision by a certified fitness professional.
* Program designed to meet each childs cognitive development, physical maturity and training experience.
* Exercise environment that is safe and free from hazards.
* 5 to 10 minute dynamic warm-up period prior to strength exercise.
* Strength training sessions scheduled 2 to 3 non- consecutive days a week.
* Strength training programs that begin with 8 to 12 exercises to strengthen the upper body, lower body, and midsection muscles.
* Strength training protocols that begin with one or two sets of 8 to 15 repetitions using a light to moderate load (60% of maximum resistance).
* Exercise sessions that emphasize correct exercise technique and safe training procedures instead of the amount of resistance used in training.
* Inclusion of exercises that require balance and coordination.
* Progression to more advanced exercises that enhance power production.
* Cool-down period with less intense activities and stretching.
* Periodized variations in the strength training program.
The authors of this study pointed out that traditional fears often associated with youth resistance training should be replaced with more recent findings that indicate that regular participation in weight-bering physical activities is essential for normal bone growth and development. Another interesting finding was that there is no minimum age requirement for youth to participate in properly designed and instructed programs of resistance exercise, but the authors suggested age 7 or 8 as a general guidline. Finally, the study recomended that the physical activity that offers young people the highest potential for desirable musculoskeletal development as well as the lowest risk of injury is a sensible and supervised program of strength training.