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Don’t fear strength, conditioning


iguel, a 10-year-old little league baseball player, is awestruck by watching his favorite major league player, Albert Pujols, hit yet another home run. He hears from friends that Pujols engages in a strict strength and conditioning program. Consequently, Miguel requests that his parents allow him to start strength training so as to improve his baseball performance. His parents vehemently refuse to allow him to participate in strength exercises for fear that he may injure himself. Believe it or not this same mindset still exists among the public in these United States, although many health professionals have embraced the concept of strength training in youths. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorses strength training for adolescents. The main concerns and arguments regarding strength training in youths have historically been two-fold. First, there has been a fear of injury, especially around growth plates. Secondly, parents and coaches have asserted that younger athletes (prior to puberty) do not acquire many gains from strength training. Mounting evidence disputes the arguments and concerns above. Many authors have reported that young athletes do not suffer from a high number of growth plate injuries, as long as established guidelines are followed. Additionally, pre-pubescent athletes may achieve just as much relative strength gains as adolescents. Strength training offers other benefits for youth athletes. These include improved motor performance, injury protection, structural adaptations (including increased bone density), improved health and metabolic functions, and improved physical appearance. When designing strength training programs for youths, some general guidelines should be followed: ■ The child has medical clearance to participate in a strength program. ■ Competent and qualified professionals should oversee training sessions. ■ Adequate hydration should be ensured prior to, during, and after workouts ■ The exercise environment should be safe and appropriate for youths ■ Perform a warm-up and cool-down during the exercise session ■ Pay particular attention to youth responses to exercise ■ Progress resistance gradually as strength improves Now here is an example of a basic strength-training program: Triceps: standing barbell triceps extension Biceps: standing dumbbell curl Forearm muscles: reverse wrist curl Front shoulder: dumbbell front raise Rear shoulder: bent over dumbbell row Upper back: upright row Lower back: straight-leg dead lift Buttocks: dumbbell lunge Abdominals: bent-knee sit-ups Hamstrings/quadriceps: barbell squats Shins: toe raises Calves: barbell heel raise. Do 1-3 sets of 6-12 repetitions for adolescents (20-25 repetitions for prepubescents), every third day; increase the weight by about 5% whenever you can complete twelve repetitions.

Health Watch David Arakawa

David Arakawa is a senior physical therapist with the Sports Medicine Center for Youth Athletes. If you have questions about this column, or have a health concern you’d like addressed, contact David and his staff at health@ Support Your Local Business • Say You Found Them In SportStars™

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Issue 2, 6.24.2010  
Issue 2, 6.24.2010  

Sport Stars Magazine Issue #2, June 24, 2010