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Strength Development

Youth Strength Development...what research has proven


Strength Development is perhaps one of the most misunderstood topics within the ranks youth wrestling today. While you will find ubiquitous agreement amongst coaches on the advantage strength plays in the sport, the underlying confusion centers around the risk/reward of focused strenght development amongt pre-adolecense children. The spectrum of opinions spans from the need to abstain from dedicated musculoskeletal execise due to fears of damaging bone plate growth within prepubescent children to the other end of the spectrum which encourages a focused and supervised strength training regimine for youth.

So with such a large latitude of opinions, what do the experts really say based upon fact-based clinical research? And by experts, I mean the medical institutes who run controlled studies in order to provide unbiased information for the public to use: Instutitions such as as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine.

What I found was quite surprising, and in fact, radically changed my thinking on the topic.

I'll summarize the findings discussed in these reports through a Myth/Fact dialogue, however I encourage you to read the reports for yourself.

Strength Training by Children and Adolescents, American College of Pediatrics, June 2001.

Youth Strength Training, American College of Sports Medicine, December 2005.





These findings tee up a discussion around what approach we should follow in order to develop strength in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides the following guidance:

"If children or adolescents undertake a strength training program, they should begin with low-resistance exercises until proper technique is learned. When 8 to 15 repetitions can be performed, it is reasonable to add weight in small increments. Exercises should include all muscle groups and be performed through the full range of motion at each joint. To achieve gains in strength, workouts need to be at least 20 to 30 minutes long, take place a minimum of 2 to 3 times per week, and continue to add weight or repetitions as strength improves. There is no additional benefit to strength training more than 4 times per week."

Based upon this guidance, a proposed 30 minute workout, 3 days per week is as follows:


situps (regular): 3 sets of 15 reps

situps (obliques): 3 sets of 15 reps

Chest (Pectorals)

pushups (regular): 3 sets of 10 reps

pushups (fingertips): 3 sets of 10 reps

pushups (diamond): 3 sets of 10 reps

Shoulders (Deltoids)

Hand stand pushups: 3 sets of 5 reps

Back bridge pushups: 3 sets of 5 reps

Neck (Sternocleidomastoid)

Resistance: 3 sets of 20 secs (each way)

Upper Back/Lateral/Arms (Laterals, Biceps, Brachioradialis)

Pull Ups (palms facing away): 3 sets of 5 reps

Pull ups (palms facing toward you): 3 sets of 5 reps

Ropes: 2 to 3 rope climbs

Hips/Legs (Hamstring, Quadracepts, Gluteus)

Dead Lifts: 3 sets of 10 reps

Lunges: 3 sets of 10 reps

Sprints: 5 sprints of 20 yards

Click here to access a Strength Development Plan which you can use to manage your child's development efforts.