How Effective is Strength Training for Youth Athletes?

In our last blog, we discussed what the research says about safety and strength training when it comes to youth athletes and adolescents. We discussed how there is no increased risk with growth plate or soft tissue injuries when it comes to strength training and how a consistent strength training program actually helps prevent against many common sports injuries including fractures and ACL injuries. (1)

This in itself already proves the effectiveness of strength training, but what else is strength training effective for?

Improvements in Athletic Performance

There is an abundance of research showing the performance benefits of strength training for adolescents. Research proves that strength training can improve strength 30 to 50% in adolescent athletes. This is after just 2 sessions a week for 8 to 12 weeks with a well-designed program! It has also been shown that strength training can improve your jumping height, running speed, flexibility, and prevent against injury! (1)

Every single sport requires some degree of strength, speed, flexibility, and/or durability so it easy to see how strength training can impact your child’s athletic performance in a positive way! And since performing a couple strength training sessions a week for 2 to 3 months can give you a huge increase in your strength and overall athleticism! Why would you not decide to do it?!

As previously mentioned, strength training prevent against injury. It has been shown to prevent against injury and overhead athletes and prevent against injuries in football players! And that’s just from one study. As an athlete, you are not effective if you are not on the field. The injury prevention benefit of strength training may be its most beneficial quality! (1)

Overall Health Benefits

Along with the injury prevention and performance benefits that come with strength training, it does a number of positive things for the overall health of your child as well. When you commit to consistent strength training program, this helps develop discipline and delayed gratification in your young one. This is because there are probably other things that they would rather be doing like watching TV or being on their phone, but after just a couple months of putting in consistent time and effort, they will see great results.

Strength programs have been found to not only increase strength and athleticism in adolescents but also a number of other health markers. Improvements in bone density, balance, self-confidence, and lipid markers (which are blood measurements related to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases) have been found after consistent strength training! (1)

Most strength training programs also help improve cardiovascular fitness and stimulate an increase in metabolism which is important to develop when they are young.

Timing and Dosage

To optimize your results and get the most out of your strength training sessions, let’s talk about when you should start strength training and how often you should do it!

A strength training program should not be started until the child is able to understand and follow directions which typically happens between the ages of six and nine. But you do want to start pretty soon after these abilities develop in your child. (1)

This is because the window around the peripubertal years is when kids are the most responsive to strength training! This means that roughly between the ages of 8-16, adolescents get way more positive benefit from strength training than those outside of that age range. This certainly does not mean that strength training outside of that age range is not important, this simply means that it’s very crucial to start training and build a good foundation during that age range because their growing skeleton is very responsive! (2)

It is generally recommended to perform strength training consistently twice a week to see beneficial results. Once your child has been training twice a week and has a solid foundation of strength training and good movement qualities, they can increase their volume of strength training to three times a week.

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