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The Key to Training Is Moderation

Whether you're dropping them off at gymnastics class, standing on the sidelines during football practice, or cheering them on during a soccer game, proud parents everywhere know how involved children are in sports these days.

More and more children are participating in athletics, often starting at a very young age.

Evidence suggests that children who resistance train can improve motor skills and reduce the risk of injury during athletics, although the exact recommendations (i.e., number of exercises and repetitions to be performed) have not yet been determined.

In a study published in the online version of Pediatrics, 43 boys and girls were divided into three groups for eight weeks: an exercise group that performed 1 set of 6-8 repetitions with a heavy weight; a second exercise group that performed 1 set of 13-15 repetitions with a moderate weight; and a control group that did not resistance train at all.

The children exercised twice a week using various exercise machines, and after eight weeks, strength and muscular endurance were measured using leg extension and chest press exercises. The researchers found that not only did both exercise groups show greater gains than the control group, but that the high-repetition/moderate-weight approach was more effective than the low-repetition/heavy-weight approach.

If your children are involved in athletics, encourage them to adopt a moderate, consistent program of resistance exercise. But don't just hand them a set of weights and say "go for it." Teach your children the safe, effective way to train. If you¹re not sure what to do or would just like more information, ask a health care professional.


Faigenbaum AD, Westcott WL, LaRosa Loud R, et al. The effects of different resistance training protocols on muscular strength and endurance development in children. Pediatrics (online version ­, July 1999: Vol. 104, No. 1, ppe5.