To assess the effects of a group resistance exercise program on prepubescent children, an experimental group of boys (n = 26) and girls (n = 24), with a mean age of 8.4 ± 0.5 years, participated in 12 weeks of school based training. The program consisted of upper body exercise using hand-held weights, stretch tubing, balls, and self-supported movements. A control group of boys (n = 30) and girls (n = 16), mean age 8.6 ± 0.5 years, had a free-play period. Boys were significantly stronger than girls on all initial strength evaluations and were taller and had lesser skinfold sums. ANCOVA was used to evaluate pre/post changes in cable tensiometer elbow flexion and extension, right and left handgrip strength, pull-ups, flexed arm hang, sit-ups, sit-and-reach flexibility, and body composition parameters. Following the training period, significantly greater gains were made by the experimental group for right handgrip, flexed arm hang, pull-ups, and flexibility. Greater decreases in sum of skinfolds were also found. Training responses of boys and girls were similar. It was concluded that a group strength training program can be an effective means of increasing fitness levels and improving body composition in both boys and girls of this age.
Judith A. Siegel resides in Cheshire, CT. David N. Camaione is with the Dept. of Sport, Leisure, and Exercise Science at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06268. Thomas G. Manfredi is with the Human Performance Lab, Tootell Bldg., University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881.