Resistance Training Important for Children


It is important for children to exercise, play, and be active. This activity can safely include resistance training.

Childhood obesity level has risen over the past decade along with adult-type health problems: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and blood cholesterol levels. Regular exercise or physical activity can help children stay healthy or become healthier.

A major new review published in Pediatrics suggest weight training can be not only safe for young people as well as beneficial to growing muscles and bones.

The researchers from the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics in Cologne, Germany analyzed 60 years’ worth of randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials studies of the effects of resistance training on muscle strength for prepubertal and postpubertal healthy children and adolescents (younger than 18 years).


The researchers found children and adolescents benefited from weight training by gaining strength. Older children, particularly teenagers, had a slight advantage in the ability to add more strength than younger ones.

Over all the researchers found strength gains were “linear.” Strength gains did not seem to be affected by puberty or hormones. Most important was consistency of resistance training. Children of all ages who participated in resistance training at least twice a week for a month or more showed greater strength gains than those who worked out only once a week or for shorter periods.

Consistency of exercise or physical activity is important to maintain or improve health at any age. As stated in the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s 2009 position paper about children and resistance training, school-aged youth should participate daily in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity that is developmentally appropriate and enjoyable and involves a variety of activities. In addition to aerobic activities such as swimming and bicycling, this can include supervised resistance training.

Old fashioned games of tug-o-war, climbing trees, and push-ups are forms of resistance exercises which don’t involve the gym or expensive equipment.

If you child wishes to head to the gym with you, don’t discourage them. Dr. Avery Faigenbaum ( has noted “Any age is a good age. But there does seem to be something special about the time from about age 7 to 12. The kids are very eager.”

Effects of Resistance Training in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-analysis; Michael Behringer, Dr med, Andreas vom Heede, MSS, Zengyuan Yue, Dr mech, Joachim Mester, Dr paed, Dr hc mult; PEDIATRICS Vol. 126 No. 5 November 2010, pp. e1199-e1210 (doi:10.1542/peds.2010-0445)