Resistance Training In The Young Athlete

May 22, 2016


For those of you that know me well, you would know that I've got a special interest in the adolescent athletic population. Now I know I've been banging on about this over the last few months 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, who unfortunately have been misinformed believing 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 do 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.


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.


I have summarised some recent evidence below with links to abstracts and podcasts - for those that are interested, please get in contact and I will 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!

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