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emphasis for that particular period is on technique, not the
weight used.
Proper body posture throughout every rep of every set
is a crucial point of emphasis for young children, as they
tend to get sloppy in execution as the set continues. The
dictated range of motion for each repetition of a given
movement must replicated for the entire set through both
the concentric (raising) and eccentric (lowering) phases.
Coaches need to use easily understandable cues for all
aspects of every lift, and maintain them with consistency
for carryover.
A gradual build-up to six to eight movements that
encompass the major muscle structures of the hips/legs/
low back, chest, shoulders, upper back, and arms should
be implemented. The neck region should also be included,
especially if the child is involved in a sport where collisions
with other athletes are commonplace. The primary goal is to
perform two to three exercises per muscle group, with one
to two sets per exercise. Reps schemes should be moderate
to higher (e.g., six to 15) and with a load that permits each
set to be performed with excellent technique.
The AAP does not endorse using one-rep maxes for
younger age groups, and it encourages movements that
allow for smoother, more controlled repetition execution.
Remember, you are trying to teach good training
techniques, a positive mindset toward training, and create
a foundation of strength for growth and development.
As parents and coaches, the primary goal should be to
educate children on a great lifestyle habit that provides
health benefits for years to come.
Also, keep in mind that - just as with older kids and
adults - more is not necessarily better when it comes to
strength training. In fact, too much of it only induces a
mental tedium that results in diminishing returns.
With regard to progressive overload, it should be done
at a slower pace than with older trainees to allow for
adaptations. Basically, when the youngster can perform
between 10 and 15 reps with excellent form for several
weeks, an approximate 5% increase in weight can be
made.
Ken Mannie is the head strength/conditioning coach at
Michigan State University. To contact him about this topic or
anything else you've read in Powerline, send him an email at
mannie@ath.msu.edu.
References
1. Strength Training by Children and Adolescents,
The American Academy of Pediatrics, PEDIATRICS:
Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics,
April, 2002.
2. Source: Faigenbaum, A., Micheli, L., ACSM Sports
Medicine Basics: Youth Strength Training, American
College of Sports Medicine, 2017.
18 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019
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