Effects and mechanisms of strength training in children

Int J Sports Med. 2011 May;32(5):357-64. doi: 10.1055/s-0031-1271677. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


It has been demonstrated that strength training can be organized in children in a safe and effective way. However, there is limited data regarding its impact on muscle hypertrophy. This study investigated the effects of a high-intensity strength training (HIS) on knee extensor/flexor strength, countermovement (CMJ) jumping height, postural control, soft lean mass and muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) of the dominant leg in prepubertal children. Thirty-two children participated in this study and were assigned to an intervention (INT; N=17) or a control class ( N=15). The INT participated in 10 weeks of weight-machine based HIS integrated in physical education. Pre/post tests included the measurements of peak torque of the knee extensors/flexors at 60 and 180°/s, CMJ jumping height, postural sway, soft lean mass of the leg by bioelectrical impedance analysis, and CSA (m. quadriceps) by magnetic resonance imaging. HIS resulted in significant increases in knee extensor/flexor peak torque (60°/s and 180°/s). HIS did not produce significant changes in CMJ jumping height, postural sway, soft lean mass, and CSA. Although HIS was effective at increasing peak torque of the knee extensors/flexors in children, it was unable to affect muscle size. It appears that neural factors rather than muscle hypertrophy account for the observed strength gains in children.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Electric Impedance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Switzerland