Resistance Training In The Young Athlete

Resistance Training In The Younger Athlete

The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre treats athletes of all ages.  Physiotherapist Mick Hughes details his experience with the younger athlete.

'For those of you that know me well, you would know that I've got a special interest in the treatment of the adolescent athletic population. Now I know I've been banging on about this over the last 2 weeks on LinkedIn and Twitter, but it bothers me that there are still misunderstandings regarding resistance/strength training in this age group.

In my clinical experience, the misunderstanding often comes from well-meaning parents and maybe coaches, who unfortunately have been misinformed at some stage and believe that strength training can damage their child's growth plates and cause more harm than good. The other misunderstanding that I see frequently is from the coaching staff of the athlete, who unfortunately does not see the benefit of incorporating resistance training into the weekly training program.

I feel that we need to urgently start educating parents and coaches by getting the message out there, that under the right supervision of an experienced physiotherapist / exercise physiologist / strength and conditioning coach, and with careful periodisation, resistance training poses no harm and is in fact very beneficial to their child/athlete in many different ways. Importantly, even if the child is not overly athletic and does not have aspirations to one day be a professional athlete, strength training can still provide life-long benefits.

Remember there are risks that are associated with playing sports that you are not prepared for and in some cases resistance training is part of any injury prevention strategy for sports.

I have summarised some recent evidence below with links to abstracts and podcasts - for those that are interested, please get in contact, and I can send you the full articles:

  • The second is a very good narrative review on the benefits of resistance training - "Citius, Altius, Fortius". Faster, Stronger, Higher.
  • The third is the systematic review and meta-analysis that I shared yesterday regarding the evidence based exercise prescription of what a resistance program to improve strength should entail --> 5 sets per exercise, 6-8 reps of 80-89% 1RM, 3-4min rests between sets for a period of greater than 23 weeks.
  • Finally here are 2 podcasts that are well worth a listen. The first is regarding sporting injuries in general, and whether or not sport specialisation at a young age is a contributing factor (podcast 1). The second is the International Olympic Committee consensus statement on talent identification, sports specialisation and injury prevention (podcast 2).

This is just a small snapshot of what evidence exists. Please share this blog and its links to colleagues and the coaches/parents of young athletes who you think could benefit from this information. I hope you have enjoyed the read.

Have an active week!'

Mick is available for consultation Monday, Wednesday & Friday at The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre.  To arrange an appointment please phone 9650 9372 or book online.