Focus On Lifetime Fitness And
Long-Term Development With

Youth Strength Training

Functional youth strength training refers to a safe method of conditioning which is DESIGNED to increase an individual youth’s movement ability to exert or resist force. The goal of strength training for youth is not to see which child is the strongest, but rather to improve the musculoskeletal strength of all children while exposing them to a variety of safe and effective youth training programs and methods that are productive as well as fun.

The essence of success when working with children and youth strength training is to teach and consider long-term development to be of far higher importance than any short-term gain.

Focus on lifetime fitness and teach kids how to exercise properly. Above all, provide a stimulating program that develops in children a more positive attitude towards strength training and healthy lifestyle choices. Regular participation will improve a child’s muscular endurance, body composition, sports performance and reduce the incidence of overuse injuries in youth sports.

When designing youth strength training programs, it is important to remember that children are not miniature adults. Children are anatomically, physiologically, and psychologically immature, and this uniqueness must be considered when developing youth strength training programs. Adult strength training guidelines and training philosophies should not be imposed on children. Consider this viewpoint:

* Using the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) System to program young athletes and non-athletes

* Guided Discovery or 'Play' (ages 6-9)

* Learning Exploration (ages 10-13)

* Training with a Purpose (ages 14+)

The key ingredient to working with pre-adolescent and early adolescent athletes is providing global stimulation from a movement perspective.

Younger athletes must experience and eventually perfect a variety of motor skills in order to ensure both future athletic success and injury prevention. Developing basic coordination through movement stimulus is a must, with the eventual goal of developing sport-specific coordination in the teenage years. Coordination itself, however, is a global system made up of several synergistic elements and not necessarily a singularly defined ability.

Balance, rhythm, spatial orientation and the ability to react to both auditory and visual stimulus have all been identified as elements of coordination. In fact, the development of good coordination is a multi-tiered sequence that progresses from skills performed with good spatial awareness but without speed to skills performed at increased speeds and in a constantly changing environment. As Joseph Drabik points out, coordination is best developed between the ages of 7 – 14, with the most crucial period being between 10 – 13 years of age.

As with anything else, an important issue with respect to coordination development is to provide stimulus that is specific (and therefore appropriate) for the individual. Prescribing drills that are either too easy or too difficult for the young athlete will have a less than optimal result.

Also, a certification as a Youth Fitness Specialist should be considered a primary requirement. Many nationally-accredited certification organizations offer professional Trainers education and credentials in fitness or sport training. Only the Youth Fitness Specialist Certification from

The International Youth Conditioning Association offers a specialized education for Personal Trainers in the aspects of working with children and adolescents.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that coordination-based exercises must be introduced during the preadolescent ages. Adolescence is not an appropriate time during which to begin elements of coordination training. As strength, speed, height and body mass change significantly during these years, it is much more prudent to reinforce already known movements rather than teach new ones. Herein lies the art and understanding of developing a young athlete. Coaches, trainers and parents must accept the fact that developing a healthy and successful athlete is a journey or process that encompasses several varying degrees of stimulus, all of which build on top of the other.

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Youth Strength Training




Movement Skill Development - The Key to Long-Term Success