Youth should genuinely appreciate the benefits and risks associated with strength training, and teachers and coaches should have a solid understanding of strength-training principles. If you adhere to the following considerations, youth strength training has the potential to be a pleasurable and valuable experience.
- Participants must have the emotional maturity to accept and follow instruction.
- There must be adequate supervision by teachers and coaches who are knowledgeable about strength training and who genuinely appreciate the uniqueness of childhood and adolescence.
- Strength training should be part of a comprehensive program to increase both health- and skill-related fitness.
- Participants should precede strength training with dynamic warm-up activities and end each workout with cool-down stretching.
- The program should emphasize concentric and eccentric muscle actions.
- Participants should perform all exercises through a full range of motion.
Although we recognize the value of traditional stretch-and-hold exercises, we incorporate static stretching exercises into the cool-down of our physical education classes and youth sport programs rather than during the warm-up portion. Although warm-up protocols that include static stretching have become standard practice, over the past few years long-held beliefs about the potential benefits of warm-up static stretching have been questioned. There has been a growing interest in warm-up procedures that involve the performance of dynamic hops, skips, jumps, and lunges that elevate body temperature, enhance the excitability of muscle fibers, improve kinesthetic awareness, and maximize active ranges of motion. Since muscles are actually turned on during dynamic warm-up activities, they will be better prepared for strength-training activities.