Many of the benefits associated with adult resistance training programs are attainable by children and adolescents, and nowadays, a growing number of fitness centers and sport training clubs offer youth fitness programs that include various forms of resistance exercise.
Global recommendations on youth physical activity suggest that children and adolescents should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) daily in the context of family, school, and community activities. In addition to active games and aerobic exercise, regular participation in strength-building activities also should be incorporated into the weekly routine of school-aged youth. Despite traditional fears and misinformed concerns associated with youth resistance training, a compelling body of evidence has found that participation in a supervised resistance training program can be a safe, effective, and worthwhile method of conditioning for children and adolescents. Nowadays, a growing number of fitness centers and sport training clubs offer youth fitness programs that include various forms of resistance exercise.
Many of the benefits associated with adult resistance training programs are attainable by children and adolescents. However, youth resistance training programs should be supervised by qualified fitness professionals and consistent with the needs, interests, and abilities of younger populations. This is where the art of youth resistance training comes into play because the physical demands of training need to be balanced with effective instructional strategies that maximize enjoyment, foster socialization, and spark an ongoing interest in daily MVPA. That is, the most effective youth fitness professionals are able to use different pedagogical approaches to address individual learning styles and developmental needs. Notwithstanding the importance of improving muscular fitness (i.e., muscular strength, muscular power, and muscular endurance), youth fitness professionals should provide an opportunity for all participants to have fun, make friends, and learn something new.
Troubling trends in muscular fitness among modern-day youth have created an immediate need to implement safe, effective, and enjoyable resistance training programs for children and adolescents. New insights into the design of long-term physical development programs have highlighted the importance of enhancing muscular fitness and resistance training skill competency early in life to set the stage for more advanced training later in life. Fitness professionals who genuinely appreciate the uniqueness of younger populations and who understand the PROCESS of youth resistance training are best prepared to design, supervise, and instruct sustainable programs that spark an ongoing interest in health and fitness.
Despite traditional fears and misinformed concerns associated with youth resistance training, new insights into the design of youth fitness programs have highlighted the importance of enhancing muscular fitness during childhood and continuing participation in strength-building activities throughout adolescence. Although factors such as heredity, training experience, and health habits (e.g., nutrition and sleep) will influence the rate and magnitude of adaptation, seven principles that determine the effectiveness of youth resistance training are the principles of (a) Progression, (b) Regularity, (c) Overload, (d) Creativity, (e) Enjoyment, (f) Socialization, and (g) Supervision. These basic principles can be remembered as the PROCESS of youth resistance training.