Official Athletic Development Partner – Lift Life Foundation

Movement Guides Partners with Bodybuilding.com’s Lift Life Foundation      

Competitive Edge Head Strength Coach and Owner Matt Wattles wears more than one hat.  In addition to Competitive Edge, he is also a Founder and Co-owner in Movement Guides, Inc.

Movement Guides is the culmination of decades worth of knowledge, experience and work of Matt and his business partner Kyle Sela in the fields of strength and conditioning, athletic development and rehabilitation.  Movement Guides is one of the premier Athletic Development and Movement Efficiency companies in the United States.

Movement Guides designs, builds, manufacture, and sells human movement efficiency improvement products. We also develop training programs that help people and athletes move better and more efficiently.   Our products and programs are used in the medical, fitness, wellness, sports medicine & elite athletic performance markets.  Our clients include the New England Patriots, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Duke University, University of Oregon, University of Oklahoma, Andrews Institute, Exos – Human Performance, U.S. Army, Army Rangers and dozens of other prominent companies, colleges and institutions.

You can learn more about Movement Guides and our products here:
http://movementguides.com/

BodyBuilding.com’s Lift Life Foundation

In early 2016 BodyBuilding.com empowered some of its employees to create a new nonprofit organization that would better align with the company’s goal of promoting health and wellness.  What was born was the Lift Life Foundation.  The Lift Life Foundation is a nonprofit organization that serves students at underfunded high schools across the United States by completely transforming their old, dilapidated and unsafe weight rooms into state-of-the-art facilities with brand-new equipment.  Their mission is to give underprivileged students access to the tools they need to improve their fitness levels, boost their self-worth, and to become the best versions of themselves, both physically and mentally through exercise.

In a very short time frame, Lift Life has now completed 4 projects.  The transformations are chronicled by an incredible video production team and the final short films of each project are extremely inspiring. These are available to view on their organizations web page at www.liftlifefoundation.org.

Watch how Lift Life Foundation is making a significant impact!

Each school that has been chosen was first nominated via video submission by a student, teacher, staffer or parent. Once a pool of nominees is gathered, the board makes their decision. So far the communities have hailed from Idaho, Kentucky, Indiana and Montana. The next school up is in Chicago, IL (Fall 2018).

Movement Guides Partners with BodyBuilding.com’s Lift Life Foundation

Movement Guides is another Treasure Valley company looking to make an impact on people’s lives for the better. “As soon as we heard about what this foundation was up to, we knew we had to get involved,” said Matt. “Our company designs and manufactures unique pieces of fitness equipment and also creates educational content revolving around helping people move better.”  Movement Guides first heard of the Lift Life Foundation in the Fall of 2016 just after their first project in Firth, Idaho was complete.

“We knew that we could help by not just donating equipment, but by educating the students and coaches on how to move correctly and perform their exercises safely so that these new weight rooms can be maximized to their full potential.”  Movement Guides was able to be fully involved by the time Lift Life was planning their project in Anderson, Indiana.

Anderson Preparatory Academy, on the outskirts of Indianapolis, was particularly interesting to another Movement Guides co-founder, Kyle Sela.  Kyle was a former US Army Physical Therapist, Soldier and Iraq War veteran.  “This wasn’t a prep academy for rich kids.  Anderson is a struggling town and the kids in this school are there to learn discipline, respect and hard work.  It’s military ties really hit home with me and it was incredible to see those kids’ faces when at the unveiling of their new facility,” said Kyle.

Movement Guides Named Official Athletic Development Partner of the Lift Life Foundation

Since the partnership, Movement Guides has been named the Official Athletic Development Partner of the Lift Life Foundation.  In this capacity, we not only provide our equipment and training on the equipment, we are educating high school athletes and their coaches on proper lifting techniques, athletic development and how to move more better and more efficiently.

Movement Guides has now implemented one of their licensed course, Movement Essentials, as well as their athletic development and programming design principals to High School athletes and their coaches throughout the country.

Strength Training for Young Athletes: Part 2

In this article we discuss Safety of strength training, 1RM Testing, Growth Plates, and Testosterone production in young athletes.

** Note:  This article first appeared on Elitfts.com on Aug 14, 2016
https://www.elitefts.com/education/strength-training-for-young-athletes-safety-1rm-testing-growth-plates-and-testosterone/

In the first part of this article, we examined the forces placed on a young athlete through strength training. Through multiple scientific formulas, we demonstrated that the forces placed on an athlete through running, jumping, cutting, and other athletic movements is significantly higher than the forces placed on an athlete through weight training.

In this second part, we are going to look at more research regarding 1RM testing and break down multiple falsehoods about why young athletes should not strength train.

What does the research say about the relative safety of weight training and children?

So we’ve heard it time and time again from coaches, parents, and “professionals” that weight training will injure your children.

  1. Children should not strength train. It is dangerous and hazardous. It usually goes something like this: if you strength train your kid, they’ll be FUBAR!
  2. You can’t have children lift heavy weights or 1 RM’s because it will cause structural damage.
  3. If you strength train young athletes, you will injure their growth plates and stunt their growth.
  4. Children can’t get strong because they don’t produce enough testosterone.

So what does the research say about the above comments that we hear about every day?

There is no statistically convincing evidence in the scientific literature that weightlifting or weight training are particularly hazardous. The overwhelming impression from the surveys and literature is that both are markedly safer than many other sports, certainly when supervised by qualified people (8).

Findings from the 2012–2013 High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study revealed that participation in team sports resulted in an estimated 1.36 million injuries at a rate of 2.16 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures (i.e., practices and competition). Of the nine sports studied, football had the highest injury rate (3.87 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures), whereas boys’ baseball (0.88) and girls’ softball (0.89) had the lowest injury rates (9).

Data comparing the relative safety of resistance training, weightlifting, and other sports are limited. In a retrospective evaluation of injury rates in adolescents, it was revealed that resistance training and weightlifting were markedly safer than many other sports and activities. In this report, the overall injury rate per 100 participant hours was 1.92 for rugby and 0.0027, 0.0120 and 0.0013 for powerlifting, resistance training and weightlifting, respectively. (8)

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Multi-Sports Comparative Injury Rates (Hamill, 1994)

A study published in the November/December 2001 issue of the Journal of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons cited research showing that in children ages five to 14 years, the number of injuries from bicycling was almost 400 percent greater than the number of injuries from weightlifting (10).

In a review paper on resistance training for prepubescent and adolescents published in 2002 in Strength and Conditioning Coach, author Mark Shillington reported in a screening of sports‐related injuries in school-aged children that resistance training was the likely cause of only 0.7 percent (or 1,576) of injuries compared with 19 percent for football and 15 percent for baseball (11).

Dr. Avery Faigenbaum, one of the leading research scientist in the children and strength training field, has reported that for over 17 years he and colleagues conducted strength training classes for children, ages six to 12, without a single injury.

The truth is that weight training and competitive lifting sports are among the safest activities an athlete can participate in. This fact is known worldwide. Renowned Russian sports scientist Vladimir Zatsiorsky in his book “Science and Practice of Strength Training” states, “The risk of injury from a well coached strength training program has been estimated to be about one per 10,000 athlete‐exposures, with an athlete‐exposure being defined as one athlete taking part in one training session or competition. Compared to tackle football, alpine skiing, baseball pitching, and even sprint running, strength training is almost free of risk.” (12)

What does the research tell us about 1RM testing for young athletes?

Another area of potential injury concern for children and pubescent/adolescents is the use of max testing (1RM). The argument that weightlifting is inherently more dangerous than weight training because it involves single, maximum efforts implies that other sports, considered safer, do not. In fact, jumping, kicking, striking, tackling, and throwing are often single maximum efforts. The last repetition of a set in weight training is frequently a maximum effort. (8)

Most of the forces that youth are exposed to in various sports and recreational activities are likely to be greater in both exposure time and magnitude than competently supervised and properly performed maximal strength tests. These observations along with current research findings indicate that the maximal force–producing capabilities of healthy children and adolescents can be safely evaluated by 1RM testing procedures, provided that youth participate in a habituation period before testing to learn proper exercise technique, and qualified professionals closely supervise and administer each test (4).

Some clinicians and researchers have not used 1RM testing to evaluate training-induced changes in muscular strength because of the presumption that high-intensity loading may cause structural damage in children. Thus, the maximal force production capabilities of children have not been directly evaluated in some studies, yet no injuries have been reported in prospective studies that utilized adequate warm-up periods, appropriate progression of loads, close and qualified supervision, and critically chosen maximal strength tests (1RM performance lifts, maximal isometric tests, and maximal isokinetic tests) to evaluate resistance training–induced changes in children (4). In a study, 96 children performed a 1RM strength test on one upper-body and one lower-body weight machine exercise. No abnormal responses or injuries occurred during the study period, and the testing protocol was reportedly well tolerated by the subjects (13). In other reports, children and adolescents safely performed 1RM strength tests using free weight exercises (14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23). Faigenbaum and others have shown max testing to be safe in these age groups (4, 24, 25).

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It should be noted that researchers emphasize that when performing 1RM max testing, maintaining technique is critical. A multi-rep max (e.g., 3 – 5 RM) may even be preferred to a 1RM in certain situations, especially where training age (i.e. number of years experience in resistance training) is less than three to four years or physical development is behind what is expected for the chronological age (4). They also recommended that NSCA-prescribed guidelines for lifting technique should always be followed (26).

But you’ll injure their growth plates and stunt their growth!

Although children and adolescents are susceptible to injury to the growth cartilage, the potential for this type of injury may be less in a preadolescent child than in an adolescent because the growth cartilage may actually be stronger and more resistant to sheering type forces in younger children (4, 27). To date, injury to the growth cartilage has not been reported in any prospective youth resistance training research study. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that resistance training will negatively impact growth and maturation during childhood and adolescence (4, 28, 29).

Malina examined the effects of resistance training programs on pre- and early-pubertal youth in the context of response, potential influence on growth and maturation, and occurrence of injury. The estimated injury rates were 0.176, 0.053, and 0.055 per 100 participant-hours in the programs. These extremely low injury rates were attributed to the high levels of supervision and low instructor to participant ratios. They concluded that weights and resistance machines and with supervision and low instructor/participant ratios are relatively safe and do not negatively impact growth and maturation of pre- and early-pubertal youth (30).

Mel Siff in Facts and Fallacies of Fitness states, “It has never been shown scientifically or clinically that the periodic imposition of large forces by weight training on the growing body causes damage to the epiphysial plates.” Siff also notes that bone density scans have proven that youngsters who do competitive weightlifting (i.e., the snatch and the clean and jerk) have higher bone densities than children who do not use weights, and that clinical research has not shown any correlation between weight training and epiphysial damage (7).

As far as stunting a child’s growth, there is no current evidence to indicate a decrease in stature in children who regularly strength train in a supervised environment with qualified instruction. In all likelihood, participation in strength training will have a favorable influence on growth at any stage of development but will not affect a child’s genetic height potential (31).

As with muscles, bones become stronger in response to stress, and the activities involving the highest levels of stress can encourage the formation of stronger bones. An extensive Russian study on young athletes, published in a book entitled School of Height, concluded that heavy lifting tends to stimulate bone growth in young athletes rather than inhibit it. (32)

Children cannot increase strength through strength training because they do not produce enough testosterone

Testosterone is not essential for achieving strength gains, as evidenced by women and elderly individuals who experience impressive gains in strength even though they have little testosterone. When compared on a relative or percent basis, training-induced strength gains in children are comparable to those in adolescents and adults (31). You are fooling yourself if you think your child can’t get stronger.

Conclusion

It should be a no-brainer that young athletes embrace strength training. The benefits of strength training will yield bigger and stronger bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. These benefits allow the body to be more resistant to all of the external forces and demands being placed upon it in athletic sports training and lower the possibility of injury.

Meanwhile at Competitive Edge APC….

At our facility when we begin working with an athlete, the primary focus is on good technique. Once proper form and technique is established, we load our athletes and get them strong. What we’ve seen through training our athletes throughout the years is that it takes a good three years of consistent strength training to build a solid foundation of strength. This is the point that we see in our athletes training where the muscles, bones and connective tissues (tendons, ligaments) really start getting strong and when our athletes start hitting impressive numbers on ALL performance measures.

When we hear parents, coaches, therapists and others telling their athletes not to strength train because they are afraid the strength training will hurt them or because they’ll become bulky and slow, we laugh. We know when our athletes meet on the field, ours will be running right through yours! When our 6-foot, 225-pound fullback who power cleans 250 pounds, bench presses 325 and squats 450 faces off against your 155-pound linebacker with no weight training experience, things will not end well for the other guy.

If your child is participating in a speed school/camp because you’re afraid that weightlifting is going to hurt your child, you’ve been sold a line by some weak, nimble-armed shyster.  You’re now armed with the facts why strength training is not only safe, but probably the most important thing you can do to protect your child from injury.

Unfortunately, we do not have enough competent strength coaches nor do we have any standards for someone to call themselves a strength coach. Because of this, the uneducated continue to promote the idea that strength training for young athletes is a wrong and that it will hurt them and stunt their growth. Armed with the above information, it’s up to people to call these people out and educate them not only the benefits of strength training but the sheer necessity of it to protect them from injury when they begin playing at higher levels.

References

  1.  Micheli L. Preventing Injuries In Sports: What The Team Physician Needs To Know. In: Chan K, Micheli L, Smith A, Rolf C, Bachl N, Frontera W, Alenabi T, Eds. F.I.M.S. Team Physician Manual, 2nd Ed. Hong Kong: CD Concept; 555-572, 2006.
  2. PEDIATRICS. American Academy Of Pediatrics. Committee On Sports Medicine. Strength Training By Children And Adolescents. Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001June 2001.
  3. American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Current Comment ‘Youth Strength Training.’ March 1998.
  4. Faigenbaum, Avery D., Et Al. “Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From The National Strength And Conditioning Association.” Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research 23.5 (2009): S60-S79.
  5. American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM). “The Prevention Of Sports Injuries Of Children And Adolescents.” Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 1993, 25 (8, Supplement), 1-7.
  6. Micheli, L.J. Physiological and orthopaedic considerations for strengthening the prepubescent athlete. Nat. Strength Condo Assoc. J. 7(6):26-27.1986
  7.  Siff, M.C. (2003). Facts and Fallacies of Fitness. Denver: Supertraining Institute.
  8. Hamill, B. Relative safety of weight lifting and weight training. J Strength Cond Res 8: 53–57, 1994.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sports-related injuries among high school athletes—United States, 2005–06 school year. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 55: 1037–1040, 2006.
  10. J.M. Purvis, R.G. Burke. (2001). Recreational Injuries in Children: Incidence and Prevention . J Am Acad Orthop Surg. Nov-Dec;9(6):365374.
  11. Shillington, M.   (2002). Resistance Training For Prepubescents And Adolescents: A Review. Strength and Conditioning Coach. (Vol. 9, No. 3).
  12. Zatsiorsky, V.M. (1995). Science and practice of strength training. Champaign, IL: “Human kinetics”
  13. Faigenbaum, A, Milliken, L, and Westcott, W. Maximal strength testing in children. J Strength Cond Res 17: 162–166, 2003.
  14. Baker, D. Differences in strength and power among junior-high, senior-high, college-aged, and elite professional rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res 16: 581–585, 2002.
  15. Benson, A, Torade, M, and Fiatarone Singh, M. A rationale and method for high-intensity progressive resistance training with children and adolescents. Contemp Clin Trials 28: 442–450, 2007.
  16. Hetzler, R, DeRenne, C, Buxton, B, Ho, K, Chai, D, and Seichi, G. Effects of 12 weeks of strength training on anaerobic power in prepubescent male athletes. J Strength Cond Res 11: 174–181, 1997.
  17. Horvat, M, Franklin, C, and Born, D. Predicting strength in high school women athletes. J Strength Cond Res 21: 1018–1022, 2007.
  18. Kravitz, L, Akalan, C, Nowicki, K, and Kinzey, S. Prediction of 1 repetition maximum in high school power lifters. J Strength Cond Res 17: 167–172, 2003.
  19. Mayhew, J, Kerksick, C, Lentz, D, Ware, J, and Mayhew, D. Using repetitions to predict one-repetition maximum bench press in male high school athletes. Pediatr Exerc Sci 16: 265–276, 2004.
  20. Mayhew, J, McCormick, T, Piper, F, Kurth, A, and Arnold, M. Relationships of body dimensions to strength performance in novice adolescent male powerlifters. Pediatr Exerc Sci 5: 347–356, 1993.
  21. Ozmun, J, Mikesky, A, and Surburg, P. Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26: 510–514, 1994.
  22. Sadres, E, Eliakim, A, Constantini, N, Lidor, R, and Falk, B. The effect of long-term resistance training on anthropometric measures, muscle strength, and self-concept in pre-pubertal boys. Pediatr Exerc Sci 13: 357–372, 2001.
  23. Volek, J, Gomez, A, Scheett, T, Sharman, M, French, D, Rubin, M, Ratamess, N, McGuigan, M, and Kraemer,W. Increasing fluid milk intake favorably affects bone mineral density responses to resistance training in adolescent boys. J Am Diet Assoc 103: 1353– 1356, 2003.
  24. Faigenbaum A.D., Kraemer W.J., et al./NATIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION. Youth resistance training: position statement paper and literature review. Strength & Conditioning 18(6): 62 – 75, 1996.
  25. Faigenbaum A.D., Micheli L.J./AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE. Current Comment from the American College of Sports Medicine: Youth Strength Training. Indianapolis IN: ACSM, 1998
  26. Baechle T.R., Earle R.W. (Editors)/ NATIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION. Essentials of Strength Training & Conditioning (3rd Edition). Champaign IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.
  27. Micheli, L. Strength training in the young athlete. In: Competitive Sports for Children and Youth. Brown, E and Branta, C eds. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books, 1988. pp. 99–105.
  28. Falk, B and Eliakim, A. Resistance training, skeletal muscle and growth. Pediatr Endocrinol Rev 1: 120–127, 2003.
  29. Malina, R.Weight training in youth-growth, maturation and safety: An evidenced based review. Clin J Sports Med 16: 478–487, 2006.
  30. Malina, R.M. Weight training in youth growth, maturation and safety: An evidence-based review. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 16(6): 478–487, 2006.
  31. Faigenbaum, AD (2102). Youth Strength Training: Facts and Fallacies. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2012/01/13/youth-strength-training-facts-and-fallacies
  32. Palko, AS. (2007). School Of Height (M. Yessis, Trans.). Michigan: Ultimate Athlete Concepts.

Strength Training for Young Athletes: Part 1

In this article we discuss the benefits of strength training, appropriate starting age, and what the research says about lifting heavy weight with young athletes.

** Note:  This article first appeared on Elitfts.com on Aug 10, 2016
https://www.elitefts.com/education/coaching-education/strength-training-for-young-athletes-benefits-appropriate-starting-age-and-lifting-heavy-weight/ 

The subject of strength training young athletes is a hot topic among parents and coaches. Based on the feedback of many professionals and trainers in this arena, here is what we currently know:

  • Speed camps and speed/agility training are the only safe and acceptable type of training for young athletes.
  • Strength/weight training for young athletes is inappropriate, unsafe and should be discouraged until the young athlete is fully developed.
  • If you recklessly decide to strength/weight train a young athlete, you will stunt their growth by sealing off their growth plates.
  • Finally, of course, strength/weight training will make your young athletes big and slow.

How many times have you heard the above?

It’s 2016 and people still believe this nonsense. The most serious issue is that this information is not typically originating from uneducated, uninformed parents. Oh, no — these uneducated and outrageous claims are originating from individuals claiming to be professionals. For the sake of all athletes, this has to stop.

It’s time for strength coaches to stand up and say enough is enough and call out the coaches, physical therapists, physicians, and anyone else making these ridiculous claims. For god’s sake, there are still “trainers” out their training lineman by standing one legged on Bosu balls or using vibration plates while curling ten-pound dumbbells and calling it a legitimate workout for athletes. I’m dead serious.

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We still have high school football coaches telling our parents that they shouldn’t have their athletes engaged in strength training because it will hurt them and make them big and slow. Take a moment to think about that statement. Here you have football coaches telling the kids to run and tackle one another as fast and as hard as possible, but for God’s sake, do not allow them to strength train in order to strengthen their bones, ligaments, and tendons, which in turn will help protect the athletes from their sport.

It’s very simple. The people making these claims do not understand strength training, have never strength trained themselves, and most likely are very intimidated by strength training and therefore make a judgment. They conclude that if they don’t understand it, it must be bad! The bottom line is that these people in no way should be training athletes or providing training guidelines to athletes. An even greater concern is that these professionals with strong opinions do not have the decency to look into the subject or spend any time researching it. The fact is, we have A LOT of stupid people out there and it seems like everyone wants to be a strength coach these days.

A basic and efficient glimpse of strength training would very quickly yield the following information:

  • There are endless benefits associated with weight training for young athletes.
  • Strength training is recommended for children as young as six by major professional organizations.
  • Weight and strength training has been shown to be much safer than running, jumping, or participating in most sports.

This article is a culmination of what the research says as well as what the major professional organizations say about lifting and young athletes. With all the information presented, it should be second nature for parents to actively pursue strength training in an attempt to improve the preparedness of aspiring young athletes for the demands of sports participation.

That being said, this is also a call to action.

All weight/strength training programs for youth should be competently supervised, properly instructed, and appropriately designed. Strength training should not be taken lightly and should only be taken lightly. Coaches and parents should have the diligence to find highly competent strength coaches that possess both the academic as well as the practical experience to properly teach and develop programming for athletes. There are currently no standards or requirements to call yourself a strength coach.

Let me be perfectly clear: there are a bunch of idiots out there with no backgrounds and no basic knowledge of strength training principles that want to believe and call themselves strength coaches/trainers, etc. All I can say at this time is buyer beware, and for god’s sake don’t send your kids to a dodge ball trainer.

Benefits of Strength Training

The benefits of strength training on young children are well documented. Appropriately prescribed and competently supervised youth resistance training programs offer significant health and fitness benefits to boys and girls:

  • Enhancing overall muscular strength and local muscular endurance
  • Strengthens muscles, ligaments, tendons
  • Improves bone mineral density
  • Improves body composition
  • Positively influences aerobic fitness
  • Improves blood lipids
  • Improves motor performance skills (e.g., jumping and sprinting)

One of the best benefits of youth strength training is its ability to improve the preparedness of aspiring young athletes for the demands of sports participation. Although millions of boys and girls participate in sport, it seems that a growing number of young athletes are suffering sports-related injuries because they are ill-prepared for the demands of sports practice and competition. An estimated 15% to 50% of all injuries sustained by youth while playing sports could be prevented if more emphasis was placed on developing fundamental fitness abilities prior to sports participation (1).

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Ground Force Reactions and Injuries

When youth athletes are practicing and playing in sporting events, they are subjected to ground reaction force and reaction on the body. Every step you take is subject to gravity (how much you weigh) and momentum (how fast you are moving). The majority of injuries in sports are caused by these ground force reactions.

Every time you do an activity, you are putting huge amounts of stress on your body:

  • Walking = 1.5 x Bodyweight
  • Running = 3-6 x Bodyweight
  • Jumping = 4-11 x Bodyweight

For a 120-pound athlete, this means:

  • When your 120-pound athlete walks, he/she is putting 180 pounds of force on a single leg.
  • When your 120-pound athlete runs, he/she is putting 240-720 pounds of force on a single leg.
  • When your 120-pound athlete jumps he/she is putting 480– 1320 pounds of force on a single leg.

Take this a step further and apply these forces into normal childhood play and sports and they become even greater. Throwing, tackling, jumping out of trees and falling of jungle gyms will all far exceed any stress on a young athlete’s bones that we could possibly apply in a strength training setting.

When we strength train our young athletes, it is done in a controlled environment and the loads are gradually and systematically increased over time as these athletes become stronger and more comfortable with the techniques.

Strength training helps build muscle, tendon, and ligament strength to help protect the athlete from these ground forces. If an athlete is not engaged in a properly designed strength and conditioning program, the chance of injury is significantly increased.

What age is appropriate to begin strength training?

Major professional organizations such as The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend strength training for children as young as six years old. In general, if a child is old enough to participate in organized sports, such as Little League baseball, soccer, or gymnastics, then they are probably ready for a strength training program (2,3,4)

Contrary to a popular misconception, there is no evidence that an age-appropriate strength training program, done under qualified supervision, is detrimental to a child. In fact, research has shown strength training helps children maintain a healthy body weight, benefits skeletal and joint development, and improves sports performance. ACSM reported that strength training programs can prevent as many as 50 percent of all preadolescent sports injuries (5).

I would agree with Eric Cressey when he says, “a young athlete should start resistance training as early as his/her attention span allows for it.” For me personally, I generally don’t work with athletes younger than 13 because of the nature of my business and the level of athletes that I work with.

Basically, for competent strength coaches that have plenty of training time under their belt, it comes down to common sense. If the kid looks ready to lift, can move well, and has the ability to create good stability throughout various movement patterns, then they’re ready for external loading.

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How about lifting “heavy weight”?

What is considered heavy to you may be a warm-up weight for some of my kids!

Simply saying kids shouldn’t lift “heavy weights” is an asinine statement. What is considered heavy weight for a kid? The answer comes down to physical maturity and whether or not that kid can move the weight with good form and technique. I’ve worked with eighth graders that could bench 250 pounds with good form and I’ve worked with eighth graders that would have been crushed by an empty bar. For a kid who is benching 265, 90% of his 1RM (one-rep max) would be 240. At the same time, for a physically immature kid, 90% of his 1RM might only be 40 pounds. It comes down to assessments and knowing your athletes.

The problem is that we still have high school coaches telling freshman kids that they are only allowed to use a barbell to bench when some of these kids are benching well over 200 pounds.

When a parent, coach, or other professional is making a blanket statement and telling kids not to lift “heavy weights,” in my opinion it is the result of inexperience and a lack of understanding of basic principles of strength and conditioning  If a coach or trainer makes a judgment call and says you can only do the bar, for one kid that bar may only be 15% of a 1RM, but for a smaller weaker kid may be 9 % of their 1RM. How will the big strong kid progress is he’s only using <20% loads? He won’t and if you’re one of the coaches installing this philosophy, you’re limiting your athlete’s potential.

Before you start flaming me and saying, “Matt is advocating lifting massive weights for our youth,” no, I am not. Let me be perfectly clear: I advocate for teaching proper form and technique and then begin external loading. To say young athletes should not lift heavy weights/loads relative to their strength levels is just like saying young athletes should not run fast or jump high. Let’s say I have a 13-year-old athlete who is 5’9″ and weighs 150 and can back squat 150 pounds with good form. If I work up to a 90% for a double at 135 pounds, how much load have I placed on this kid? Let’s look at the loads and do the math if I have the same kid run as fast as he can for a 100-yard all-out sprint.

First of all, every stride that kid takes during the all-out sprinting motion he’ll be placing 3-6 x his bodyweight in ground reaction forces.

3 x bodyweight of 150 pounds = 450 pounds

6 x bodyweight of 150 pounds = 900 pounds

If we use standard stride lengths for sprinting (let’s say 1.17 x height) then we get about 81 strides or steps during the course of that 100-yard sprint. Because he is a 5’9″ athlete, we know by using the above formula that his stride length is 69 inches.

69 inches x 1.17 = 80.7 steps

So every stride that kid takes he’s putting forces up to 900 pounds on his body and doing it 81 times in under 15 seconds.

That’s just for running. Now apply these formulas to figure out forces for jumping, cutting, falling, hitting, throwing, tackling, etc. In the course of a pee wee football practice, how much force are you putting on these kids?

Now that you understand this, do you still have the gall to question why competent strength coaches are weight training with their young athletes? Telling a kid not to lift but then turning around and having him sprint, cut, and jump in those terms really does sound stupid, doesn’t it?

The problem is that we’ve known this for decades. Micheli was arguing this point 30 years ago when he stated that repetitive impact sports such as running should give more cause for anxiety than should weight training (6). World renowned exercise scientist Mel Siff, Ph.D., has stated“It does not require much scientific knowledge or computational genius to see that the cumulative loading imposed by simple running activities on the lower extremities and the spine is far greater than the cumulative load of two or three times a week of weight training (7).

What would a parent or football coach say if I told them not to have the kids run fast because you were going to hurt them? That is my exact point. Events we see in everyday youth sports (running, jumping, falling, cutting, etc) far exceed any stress on a young athlete’s body and bones that we could possibly apply in a strength training setting. For god’s sake, put a barbell on their backs and in their hands!

In the next part of this article, we will look at research regarding 1RM testing and debunk more of the fears associated with strength training young athletes.

References

  1.  Micheli L. Preventing Injuries In Sports: What The Team Physician Needs To Know. In: Chan K, Micheli L, Smith A, Rolf C, Bachl N, Frontera W, Alenabi T, Eds. F.I.M.S. Team Physician Manual, 2nd Ed. Hong Kong: CD Concept; 555-572, 2006.
  2. PEDIATRICS. American Academy Of Pediatrics. Committee On Sports Medicine. Strength Training By Children And Adolescents. Vol. 107 No. 6 June 2001June 2001.
  3. American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Current Comment ‘Youth Strength Training.’ March 1998.
  4. Faigenbaum, Avery D., Et Al. “Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From The National Strength And Conditioning Association.” Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research 23.5 (2009): S60-S79.
  5. American College Of Sports Medicine (ACSM). “The Prevention Of Sports Injuries Of Children And Adolescents.” Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise, 1993, 25 (8, Supplement), 1-7.
  6. Micheli, L.J. Physiological and orthopaedic considerations for strengthening the prepubescent athlete. Nat. Strength Condo Assoc. J. 7(6):26-27.1986
  7.  Siff, M.C. (2003). Facts and Fallacies of Fitness. Denver: Supertraining Institute.
  8. Hamill, B. Relative safety of weight lifting and weight training. J Strength Cond Res 8: 53–57, 1994.
  9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sports-related injuries among high school athletes—United States, 2005–06 school year. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 55: 1037–1040, 2006.
  10. J.M. Purvis, R.G. Burke. (2001). Recreational Injuries in Children: Incidence and Prevention . J Am Acad Orthop Surg. Nov-Dec;9(6):365374.
  11. Shillington, M.   (2002). Resistance Training For Prepubescents And Adolescents: A Review. Strength and Conditioning Coach. (Vol. 9, No. 3).
  12. Zatsiorsky, V.M. (1995). Science and practice of strength training. Champaign, IL: “Human kinetics”
  13. Faigenbaum, A, Milliken, L, and Westcott, W. Maximal strength testing in children. J Strength Cond Res 17: 162–166, 2003.
  14. Baker, D. Differences in strength and power among junior-high, senior-high, college-aged, and elite professional rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res 16: 581–585, 2002.
  15. Benson, A, Torade, M, and Fiatarone Singh, M. A rationale and method for high-intensity progressive resistance training with children and adolescents. Contemp Clin Trials 28: 442–450, 2007.
  16. Hetzler, R, DeRenne, C, Buxton, B, Ho, K, Chai, D, and Seichi, G. Effects of 12 weeks of strength training on anaerobic power in prepubescent male athletes. J Strength Cond Res 11: 174–181, 1997.
  17. Horvat, M, Franklin, C, and Born, D. Predicting strength in high school women athletes. J Strength Cond Res 21: 1018–1022, 2007.
  18. Kravitz, L, Akalan, C, Nowicki, K, and Kinzey, S. Prediction of 1 repetition maximum in high school power lifters. J Strength Cond Res 17: 167–172, 2003.
  19. Mayhew, J, Kerksick, C, Lentz, D, Ware, J, and Mayhew, D. Using repetitions to predict one-repetition maximum bench press in male high school athletes. Pediatr Exerc Sci 16: 265–276, 2004.
  20. Mayhew, J, McCormick, T, Piper, F, Kurth, A, and Arnold, M. Relationships of body dimensions to strength performance in novice adolescent male powerlifters. Pediatr Exerc Sci 5: 347–356, 1993.
  21. Ozmun, J, Mikesky, A, and Surburg, P. Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 26: 510–514, 1994.
  22. Sadres, E, Eliakim, A, Constantini, N, Lidor, R, and Falk, B. The effect of long-term resistance training on anthropometric measures, muscle strength, and self-concept in pre-pubertal boys. Pediatr Exerc Sci 13: 357–372, 2001.
  23. Volek, J, Gomez, A, Scheett, T, Sharman, M, French, D, Rubin, M, Ratamess, N, McGuigan, M, and Kraemer,W. Increasing fluid milk intake favorably affects bone mineral density responses to resistance training in adolescent boys. J Am Diet Assoc 103: 1353– 1356, 2003.
  24. Faigenbaum A.D., Kraemer W.J., et al./NATIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION. Youth resistance training: position statement paper and literature review. Strength & Conditioning 18(6): 62 – 75, 1996.
  25. Faigenbaum A.D., Micheli L.J./AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SPORTS MEDICINE. Current Comment from the American College of Sports Medicine: Youth Strength Training. Indianapolis IN: ACSM, 1998
  26. Baechle T.R., Earle R.W. (Editors)/ NATIONAL STRENGTH & CONDITIONING ASSOCIATION. Essentials of Strength Training & Conditioning (3rd Edition). Champaign IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.
  27. Micheli, L. Strength training in the young athlete. In: Competitive Sports for Children and Youth. Brown, E and Branta, C eds. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books, 1988. pp. 99–105.
  28. Falk, B and Eliakim, A. Resistance training, skeletal muscle and growth. Pediatr Endocrinol Rev 1: 120–127, 2003.
  29. Malina, R.Weight training in youth-growth, maturation and safety: An evidenced based review. Clin J Sports Med 16: 478–487, 2006.
  30. Malina, R.M. Weight training in youth growth, maturation and safety: An evidence-based review. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 16(6): 478–487, 2006.
  31. Faigenbaum, AD (2102). Youth Strength Training: Facts and Fallacies. American College of Sports Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2012/01/13/youth-strength-training-facts-and-fallacies
  32. Palko, AS. (2007). School Of Height (M. Yessis, Trans.). Michigan: Ultimate Athlete Concepts.

Caleb Christensen – Featured on the News (KIVI)

KIVI Channel 6 Sports Director, Dan Hawk, was out today at Competitive Edge today to do a story about Caleb Christensen and his incredible strength.  It’s a great story. Check it out:

Caleb Christensen the Power Lifting Phenom
https://www.kivitv.com/sports/caleb-christensen-the-power-lifting-phenom

It’s easy to say that Caleb has had a good few months. In February he signed to play football at Boise State University.

In April he set two National deadlift records.

Caleb has been invited to compete at the U.S. Strongman Nationals in the teenage division in Detroit Michigan in June.

Mountain View High School Football Kicker
Sets All-Time National Deadlift Record

For Immediately Release:  April 04, 2017

Mountain View High School Football Junior Kicker / Punter, Magnus Wattles, set a national all-time deadlift record in the lightweight teen division.  Magnus pulled an incredible 505 lb straight bar, raw deadlift at a body weight of 185 lbs this past weekend at the United States Strongman National Record breakers.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, Magnus immediately went on to set the national record in the lightweight teen division with a 565 lb, 18″ deadlift.

I think we can make the argument that Magnus is now the strongest high school kicker/punter in the country.