Children and Sport – How Hard Should Children Be Trained?

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The participation of children and early and late adolescents in resistance training activities, including training for sport, appears to continually be on the rise. The involvement of youth in the sport of weightlifting and the use of weightlifting methods as part of training for sport performance also appears to be growing. The increased acceptance of these activities is evidenced by the number of both lay and scientific articles, specialized magazines and publications devoted to the different types of resistance training. It is also indicated by simple observation of fitness centres and sports training facilities. The use of resistance training appears to be growing in popularity despite poorly supported position statements, anecdotal reports and speculation concerning the potential for injury. Children and adolescents participating in resistance training programs can make noticeable increases in strength and power as well as physiological parameters associated with both health and sport performance. Although the number of children and adolescents (aged 8–18 years) involved in some form of resistance training is increasing and evidenced-based reviews that support these activities have been published, controversy still exists. There are still those who insist that training with free weights, particularly the sport of weightlifting, should not take place until a person is fully developed, even though there is not much objective evidence to support such a position. More recently published scientific data support the notion that properly supervised resistance training programs can improve sport performance, reduce injury potential and enhance healthy facets of children and early and late adolescents.