Saturday, September 5, 2020

Children's Health and Resistance Training


I have posted many times over the years about the health benefits of resistance training for youth. I always support these kind of posts by citing scientific studies and papers. I do this because I want to provide something beyond just an opinion. 

The received "wisdom" of the supposed ill effects of kids lifting weights which include, among other things, growth plate fractures and and stunted growth is still pervasive among parents and pediatricians. Given the amount of study given this topic over the years and the evidence supporting the benefits of lifting weights (for all age groups, by the way) anti-lifters are (this is my opinion) analogous to anti-vaccers. 

This may be another one of those situations where presenting the facts won’t change minds. (Psychology Today, n.d.)  One irony is weight training is orders of magnitude safer than most other sports helicopter parents let their children participate in. (Hamill, 1994)  When you consider the high rates of injury in Youth Soccer, Little League and even Track and Field, you are also looking at a pediatric orthopedic surgeon's bread and butter (median salary: $425,000 a year) A second irony is that most of these injuries could be prevented by postponing sports specialization and including a greater variety of athletic activities including a well designed strength program. If you have a kid who is already committed to a sport, weight training is a great way to prevent injury and improve performance. (Faigenbaum & Myer, 2010)

Oh well. I’ll keep throwing it against the wall and maybe some of it will stick. 

A compelling body of scientific evidence supports participation in appropriately designed youth resistance training programmes that are supervised and instructed by qualified professionals. The current article has added to previous position statements from medical and fitness organisations, and has outlined the health, fitness and performance benefits associated with this training for children and adolescents. In summarising this manuscript, it is proposed that: 

  1. The use of resistance training by children and adolescents is supported on the proviso that qualified professionals design and supervise training programmes that are consistent with the needs, goals and abilities of younger populations.
  2. Parents, teachers, coaches and healthcare providers should recognise the potential health and fitness-related benefits of resistance exercise for all children and adolescents. Youth who do not participate in activities that enhance muscle strength and motor skills early in life may be at increased risk for negative health outcomes later in life.
  3. Appropriately designed resistance training programmes may reduce sports-related injuries, and should be viewed as an essential component of preparatory training programmes for aspiring young athletes.
  4. Regular participation in a variety of physical activities that include resistance training during childhood and adolescence can support and encourage participation in physical activity as an ongoing lifestyle choice later in life.
  5. Resistance training prescription should be based according to training age, motor skill competency, technical proficiency and existing strength levels. Qualified professionals should also consider the biological age and psychosocial maturity level of the child or adolescent.
  6. The focus of youth resistance training should be on develop- ing the technical skill and competency to perform a variety of resistance training exercises at the appropriate intensity and volume, while providing youth with an opportunity to participate in programmes that are safe, effective and enjoyable. (Lloyd et al., 2014)

  1. Faigenbaum, A. D., & Myer, G. D. (2010). Resistance training among young athletes: Safety, efficacy and injury prevention effects. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(1), 56–63.
  2. Hamill, B. P. (1994). Relative safety of weightlifting and weight training. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 8(1), 53–57.
  3. Lloyd, R. S., Faigenbaum, A. D., Stone, M. H., Oliver, J. L., Jeffreys, I., Moody, J. A., Brewer, C., Pierce, K. C., McCambridge, T. M., Howard, R., Herrington, L., Hainline, B., Micheli, L. J., Jaques, R., Kraemer, W. J., McBride, M. G., Best, T. M., Chu, D. A., Alvar, B. A., & Myer, G. D. (2014). Position statement on youth resistance training: The 2014 International Consensus. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(7), 498–505.
  4. Why people ignore facts. (n.d.). Psychology Today. Retrieved September 4, 2020, from

Friday, September 4, 2020

Basic Stretches

So you've done your mobility screen and you have discovered you have some work to do. Most of us do, by the way, and all of us need to keep up with our flexibility and mobility. 

Below is an old and imperfect guide to basic stretches. These can be done as static stretches (a stretch held for time) or "contract-relax" stretches. Use caution when stretching and ease into the movements. Multiple sessions of tiny changes over time are safer and more permanent than going for big changes in fewer sessions. Easy does it.

For Overhead Squat and Pressing issues try “Shoulder Dislocates” with a towel or stick or light jump stretch band : 1, 2, 3

Also a great shoulder opener are the close grip shoulder stretches: #4 and #5 

“Archer” shoulder stretch: #6 

Misc. Shoulder Stretches: #7-#12 

For Front Squat and Overhead Squat and Press Wrist issues: #14, # 15

Also useful for squatting and pulls mobility: Groin/Hip Abduction: #16

Sometimes, if you can't keep a flat back on deadlifts, it's the hamstrings: #17, #18, #19

Lateral Hips/TFL/IT Band: #20, #21

Quads and Hip Flexors: #24 (#22, #23, #30 use caution, these can be hard on the knees)

Calf stretch: #25, #26

Back stretches: #27, #28, #29, #32  

Thursday, September 3, 2020

A Simple Mobility Screen for the Weightlifting Exercises

 Simple Mobility Screen

This screen is composed of movements similar to those of the weightlifting exercises. If you find you have trouble with, or can't do these movements because of flexibility or joint restrictions or pain you will have to address those issues before attempting the actual exercises under load. For example, if you do not have the mobility to rack the barbell and front squat it, you have no business trying to power clean: you will only hurt yourself.


Overhead Squat: can you deep squat holding a stick or light bar overhead without rounding your back, lifting your heels or falling forward (or backwards)?



Front Squat: do you have the wrist, shoulder and elbow mobility 

to correctly “rack” the barbell for cleans and front squats?


Snatch Grip Deadlift: are you flexible enough to dead lift a bar from the floor with a flat, stable spine?


Press: are your shoulders mobile enough to overhead press without over-arching your low 



Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Why All Athletes Should Lift Weights

Different sports, but all hit the iron. Marathon, mountain running, track and field, weightlifting.

All athletes should participate in a well planned strength program. While practicing one's sport (or sports) will have the biggest impact on your athletic skills development, supplementing sports practice with a regular lifting program has been shown to:

  1. Improve performance
  2. Increase training capacity
  3. Decrease the risk of injury
There is a misconception that in order to get stronger you have to build bigger muscles and gain weight. While many athletes may benefit from gaining muscular bodyweight for their particular sport, weight class sports and endurance sports do not generally want to carry extra bodyweight. A properly designed program will help athletes get stronger and more explosive by teaching them how to recruit their existing muscles more efficiently and faster, even when weight gain is not the goal. 

Discus American Record Holder, Valerie Allman: 230' 2" (70.15 meters) 

Novice and Masters endurance athletes should lift for the same reason: high mileage is neither a safe nor effective way to improve performance for these two groups of athletes. Beginners don't have the years of conditioning to tolerate high mileage without breaking down and the over 35 crowd don't have the recovery abilities of their peak years. Enter lifting weights, which provides many of the neuromuscular benefits that contribute to improved running form and efficiency without the pounding and increased risk of overuse injury posed by high mileage. Lifting teaches your body how to use the slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers in a coordinated and efficient fashion which carries over to your sport practice.

Three time Colorado State Champion and now University of Washington mid distance phenom Marlena Preigh lifted twice a week in and out of season all through her high school career.

Strength training imparts additional benefits besides muscular strength: bone density, tendon, ligament and cartilage all improve from properly implemented and consistent lifting regimen. Endurance bicyclists and swimmers especially should do resistance training if only for bone density reasons. 

Blagrove, R.C., Howe, L. P., Cushion, E. J., Spence A., Howatson, G., Pedlar, C. R., & Hayes, P. R. (2018). Effects of Strength Training on Postpubertal Adolescent Distance Runners. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 50(6).

Swimming and cycling do not cause positive effects on bone mineral density: A systematic review. (2016). Revista Brasileira de Reumatologia (English Edition), 56(4), 345–351.

Johnson, R. E., Quinn, T. J., Kertzer, R., & Vroman, N. B. (1997). Strength Training in Female Distance Runners: Impact on Running Economy. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 11(4), 224–229.

Nichols, J. F., Palmer, J. E., & Levy, S. S. (2003). Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists.               Osteoporosis International, 14(8), 644–649.