Strength training effects in prepubescent boys

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1990 Oct;22(5):605-14. doi: 10.1249/00005768-199010000-00011.


Possible changes in muscle size and function due to resistance training were examined in prepubertal boys. Thirteen boys (9-11 yr) volunteered for each of the training and control groups. Progressive resistance training was performed three times weekly for 20 wk. Measurements consisted of the following: 1 repetition maximum (RM) bench press and leg press; maximal voluntary isometric and isokinetic elbow flexion and knee extension strength; evoked isometric contractile properties of the right elbow flexors and knee extensors; muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) by computerized tomography at the mid-right upper arm and thigh; and motor unit activation (MUA) by the interpolated twitch procedure. Training significantly increased 1 RM bench press (35%) and leg press (22%), isometric elbow flexion (37%) and knee extension strength (25% and 13% at 90 degrees and 120 degrees, respectively), isokinetic elbow flexion (26%) and knee extension (21%) strength, and evoked twitch torque of the elbow flexors (30%) and knee extensors (30%). There were no significant effects of training on the time-related contractile properties (time to peak torque, half-relaxation time), CSA, or %MUA of the elbow flexors or knee extensors. There was, however, a trend toward increased MUA for the elbow flexors and knee extensors in the trained group. Strength gains were independent of changes in muscle CSA, and the increases in twitch torque suggest possible adaptations in muscle excitation-contraction coupling. Improved motor skill coordination (especially during the early phase of training), a tendency toward increased MUA, and other undetermined neurological adaptations, including better coordination of the involved muscle groups, are likely the major determinants of the strength gains in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthropometry
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Composition
  • Child
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Male
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed