High-intensity and resistance training and elite young athletes

Med Sport Sci. 2011:56:84-96. doi: 10.1159/000320635. Epub 2010 Dec 21.


Although in the past resistance and high-intensity exercise training among young children was the subject of numerous controversies, it is now well-documented that this training mode is a safe and effective means of developing maximal strength, maximal power output and athletic performance in youth, provided that exercises are performed with appropriate supervision and precautions. Muscular strength and power output values measured from vertical jump and Wingate anaerobic tests are higher in elite than in non-elite young athletes and normal children, and the specific training effects on maximal power output normalised for body size are clearly more distinct before puberty. At present, there is no scientific evidence to support the view that high-intensity and/or resistance training might hinder growth and maturation in young children. Pre-pubertal growth is not adversely affected by sport at a competitive level and anthropometric factors are of importance for choice of sport in children. However, coaches, teachers and parents should be aware that unsupervised high-intensity and resistance training programmes involving maximal loads or too frequently repeated resistance exercises increase the risk of injury. Resistance training alone is an effective additional means of developing athletic performance throughout planned youth sports training programmes. Strategies for enhancing the effectiveness and safety of youth resistance and high-intensity exercise training are discussed in this chapter.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Child
  • Exercise Test
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Puberty / physiology
  • Resistance Training / methods*