Muscular Strength and Power in 3- to 7-Year-Old Children

in Pediatric Exercise Science
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To determine absolute and relative (adjusted for body mass) strength, mean power, and mean velocity for upper and lower body resistance exercises, forty-seven young boys and girls participated in maximal strength testing. Healthy young boys and girls, ages 3- to 7-years old, were tested for one-repetition maximum (1-RM) strength, and 70% of 1-RM to determine mean power and mean velocity on the chest press and leg press exercises. Adult weight machines were modified to accommodate the smaller size and lower strength levels of the children. A 2 × 4 (sex × age) ANOVA was used to determine age and sex differences in performance. No interaction or sex differences were observed for any variable at any age. 1-RM strength, mean power, and mean velocity significantly increased across ages (p ≤ .05). When adjusted for body mass, the changes were insignificant, with one exception. Relative mean power for the bench press increased with age. Data indicated children from 3-7 years of age are capable of performing strength and power tests, but may require more attempts at maximal loads compared with adults. It appears that muscular strength and velocity during this stage of development are primarily dependent on increasing body mass, whereas power is influenced by additional variable(s).

Fry and Nicoll are with the Dept. of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Irwin and Ferebee are with the Dept. of Health and Human Sciences, University of Memphis, Lawrence, KS.

Address author correspondence to Andrew Fry at acfry@ku.edu.