The good news is that a growing body of evidence recognizes resistance training as foundational to long-term physical development. Original research and reviews published in 2017 conclude that early exposure to developmentally appropriate resistance training can improve markers of health, increase muscular fitness, enhance physical literacy, and reduce the risk of injury in young athletes. Although the papers discussed in the commentary add to our understanding of the pleiotropic benefits of youth resistance training, they also raise concerns. As measures of muscular strength and power have been found to track from childhood to adulthood, the bad news is that youth with low levels of muscular fitness tend to become weak adults who are at increased risk for functional limitations and adverse health outcomes. Furthermore, global participation in youth resistance training is falling far short of public health recommendations, and these ugly trends will likely impact the health and well-being of future generations. A change in current attitudes and common practices is urgently needed to educate parents, practitioners, and clinicians about the potential benefits of resistance training for all children and adolescents, not only young athletes.
Avery D. Faigenbaum
Avery D. Faigenbaum, Rhodri S. Lloyd and Gregory D. Myer
Since the publication of the seminal review on youth resistance training by Kraemer and colleagues in 1989, a compelling body of evidence has found that resistance training can be a safe, effective, and worthwhile method of conditioning for children and adolescents. New perspectives for promoting resistance exercise as part of a long-term approach to youth physical development highlight the importance of integrating resistance training into youth fitness programs. Youth who do not enhance their muscular strength and motor skill proficiency early in life may not develop the prerequisite skills and abilities that would allow them to participate in a variety of activities and sports with confidence and vigor later in life. The identification of asymptomatic children with muscular weaknesses or imbalances may facilitate the development of a management plan which should rectify movement limitations and educate children and their families about the importance of daily physical activity.
Avery D. Faigenbaum, Laurie Milliken, Lucas Moulton and Wayne L. Westcott
The purpose of this study was to compare early muscular fitness adaptations in children in response to low repetition maximum (LRM) and high repetition maximum (HRM) resistance training. Twenty-three girls and 20 boys between the ages of 8.0 and 12.3 years (mean age 10.6 ± 1.3 years) volunteered to participate in this study. Children performed one set of 6 to 10 RM (n = 12) or one set of 15 to 20 RM (n = 19) on child-size exercise machines twice weekly over 8 weeks. Children in the control group (n = 12) did not resistance train. Maximum strength (1 RM) on the chest press, local muscular endurance (15 RM) on the leg press, long jump, vertical jump, and v-sit flexibility were assessed at baseline and posttraining. The LRM and HRM groups made significantly greater gains in 1-RM strength (21% and 23%, respectively) as compared with the control group (1%). Only the HRM group made significantly greater gains in 15-RM local muscular endurance (42%) and flexibility (15%) than that recorded in the control group (4% and 5%, respectively). If children perform one set per exercise as part of an introductory resistance training program, these findings favor the prescription of a higher RM training range.
Jim Wilcox, Rich Larson, Kevin M. Brochu and Avery D. Faigenbaum
The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether the performance of explosive-force movements before bench-press exercise would improve 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) strength.
Twelve male college athletes participated in 3 testing sessions separated by at least 5 days of rest. During each testing session, the 1RM was assessed on the bench-press exercise. After a general warm-up, subjects performed a specific warm-up that consisted of submaximal sets with increasing loads on the bench-press exercise before attempting a 1RM lift. During the first testing trial, subjects performed a series of 1RM attempts with increasing loads until their 1RM was determined. During the second and third testing trials, subjects performed in a counterbalanced randomized order either 2 plyometric push-ups or 2 medicine-ball (3 to 5 kg) chest passes 30 seconds before each 1RM attempt.
Analysis of the data revealed that 1RM bench-press strength was significantly greater after plyometric push-ups (P = .004) or chest passes (P = .025) in comparison with the first trial (123.8 ± 23.5 kg and 124.0 ± 24.1 kg vs 120.9 ± 23.2 kg, respectively).
These data suggest that an acute bout of low-volume, explosive-force upper body movements performed 30 seconds before a 1RM attempt might enhance bench-press performance in athletic men.
Avery D. Faigenbaum, Leonard D. Zaichkowsky, Wayne L. Westcott, Lyle J. Micheli and Allan F. Fehlandt
The effectiveness of a twice-a-week strength training program on children was evaluated in 14 boys and girls (mean age 10.8 yrs) who participated in a biweekly training program for 8 weeks. Each subject performed three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions on five exercises with intensities ranging between 50 and 100% of a given 10-repetition maximum (RM). All subjects were pre- and posttested on the following measures: 10-RM strength, sit and reach flexibility, vertical jump, seated ball put, resting blood pressure, and body composition parameters. The subjects were compared to a similar group of boys and girls (n = 9; mean age 9.9 yrs) who were randomly selected to serve as controls. Following the training period, the experimental group made greater gains in strength (74.3%) as compared to the control group (13.0%) (p < 0.001), and differences in the sum of seven skinfolds were noted (−2.3% vs. +1.7%, respectively, p < 0.05). Training did not significantly affect other variables. These results suggest that participation in a short-term, twice-a-week strength training program can increase the strength and improve the body composition of young boys and girls.
Nicholas A. Ratamess, Jay R. Hoffman, Ryan Ross, Miles Shanklin, Avery D. Faigenbaum and Jie Kang
The authors aimed to examine the acute hormonal and performance responses to resistance exercise with and without prior consumption of an amino acid/creatine/energy supplement. Eight men performed a resistance-exercise protocol at baseline (BL), 20 min after consuming a supplement (S) consisting of essential amino acids, creatine, taurine, caffeine, and glucuronolactone or a maltodextrin placebo (P). Venous blood samples were obtained before and immediately after (IP), 15 min (15P), and 30 min (30P) after each protocol. Area under the curve of resistance-exercise volume revealed that BL was significantly less than S (10%) and P (8.6%). For fatigue rate, only S (18.4% ± 12.0%) was significantly lower than BL (32.9% ± 8.4%). Total testosterone (TT) and growth hormone (GH) were significantly elevated at IP and 15P in all conditions. The GH response was significantly lower, however, in S and P than in BL. The TT and GH responses did not differ between S and P. These results indicated that a supplement consisting of amino acids, creatine, taurine, caffeine, and glucuronolactone can modestly improve high-intensity endurance; however, the anabolic-hormonal response was not augmented.
Avery D. Faigenbaum, Anne Farrell, Marc Fabiano, Tracy Radler, Fernando Naclerio, Nicholas A. Ratamess, Jie Kang and Gregory D. Myer
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of integrative neuromuscular training (INT) during physical education (PE) class on selected measures of health- and skill-related fitness in children. Forty children from two 2nd grade PE classes were cluster randomized into either an INT group (n = 21) or a control (CON) group (n = 19). INT was performed 2x/wk during the first ~15 min of each PE class and consisted of body weight exercises. INT and CON participants were assessed for health- and skill-related fitness before and after 8 wks of PE with or without INT, respectively. A significant interaction of group by time was observed in INT participants with improvements noted in push-ups, curl-ups, long jump, single leg hop, and 0.5 mile (0.8 km) run performance (p < .05). These data indicate that INT is an effective and time-efficient addition to PE as evidenced by improvements in health- and skill-related fitness measures in children.
Avery D. Faigenbaum, Jie Kang, James McFarland, Jason M. Bloom, James Magnatta, Nicholas A. Ratamess and Jay R. Hoffman
Although pre-event static stretching (SS) is an accepted practice in most youth programs, pre-event dynamic exercise (DY) is becoming popular. The purpose of this study was to examine the acute effects of pre-event SS, DY, and combined SS and DY (SDY) on vertical jump (VJ), medicine-ball toss (MB), 10-yard sprint (SP), and pro-agility shuttle run (AG) in teenage athletes (15.5 ± 0.9 years). Thirty athletes participated in three testing sessions in random order on three nonconsecutive days. Before testing, participants performed 5 min of walking/jogging followed by one of the following 10 min warm-up protocols: a) five static stretches (2 × 30 s), b) nine moderate-to-high-intensity dynamic movements (2 × 10 yards), or c) five static stretches (1 × 30 s) followed by the same nine dynamic movements (1 × 10 yards). Statistical analysis of the data revealed that performance on the VJ, MB, and SP were significantly (p < .05) improved after DY and SDY as compared with SS. There were no significant differences in AG after the 3 warm-up treatments. The results of this study indicate that pre-event dynamic exercise or static stretching followed by dynamic exercise might be more beneficial than pre-event static stretching alone in teenage athletes who perform power activities.
Jay R. Hoffman, Nicholas A. Ratamess, Christopher P. Tranchina, Stefanie L. Rashti, Jie Kang and Avery D. Faigenbaum
The effect of 10 wk of protein-supplement timing on strength, power, and body composition was examined in 33 resistance-trained men. Participants were randomly assigned to a protein supplement either provided in the morning and evening (n = 13) or provided immediately before and immediately after workouts (n = 13). In addition, 7 participants agreed to serve as a control group and did not use any protein or other nutritional supplement. During each testing session participants were assessed for strength (one-repetition-maximum [1RM] bench press and squat), power (5 repetitions performed at 80% of 1RM in both the bench press and the squat), and body composition. A significant main effect for all 3 groups in strength improvement was seen in 1RM bench press (120.6 ± 20.5 kg vs. 125.4 ± 16.7 at Week 0 and Week 10 testing, respectively) and 1RM squat (154.5 ± 28.4 kg vs. 169.0 ± 25.5 at Week 0 and Week 10 testing, respectively). However, no significant between-groups interactions were seen in 1RM squat or 1RM bench press. Significant main effects were also seen in both upper and lower body peak and mean power, but no significant differences were seen between groups. No changes in body mass or percent body fat were seen in any of the groups. Results indicate that the time of protein-supplement ingestion in resistance-trained athletes during a 10-wk training program does not provide any added benefit to strength, power, or body-composition changes.