Efficacy of strength training in prepubescent to early postpubescent males and females: effects of gender and maturity

Pediatr Rehabil. Jul-Sep 1997;1(3):147-57. doi: 10.3109/17518429709167353.


There has been considerable debate concerning the benefits of children participating in weight training programs. With the potential benefits of such training in specific rehabilitation regimens, the safety/efficacy of weight training is a topic in need of scientific study. Fifty-two experimental and 39 control subjects participated in this study. A 2 x 2 x 2 (gender by treatment by Tanner stage) ANOVA was used to examine pre- to post-test differences in six strength measures, eight anthropometric measures, five motor performance measures, and one flexibility measure associated with participation in a 12-week progressive resistance programme. In addition, safety of the weight training programme was examined. For strength differences, there were two significant main effects favouring strength gains in males and four favouring the experimental group. For anthropometric changes, 3-way interactions occurred that were not easily explained. However, the predominant main effect was treatment; the experimental group generally experienced gains in body segment girths with decreases in skinfold thickness. For motor performance, the experimental group had greater improvements in three of five parameters. The experimental group also had significantly greater gains in flexibility. The weight training programme was associated with only one injury. These findings support the general observation that physical benefits can be gained safely by children who participate in a weight training programme.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Constitution / physiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Musculoskeletal Physiological Phenomena
  • Pliability
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Safety
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Sprains and Strains / etiology
  • Weight Lifting / education
  • Weight Lifting / injuries
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*