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Clement Golliet: “Youth and Resistance Training”

Despite what many may say that young children should not do resistance training and notwithstanding controversial literature, in fact, the risk of injuries stays at relatively low levels and the number of kids with growth plate fracture remains extremely small.

Written by: Clement Golliet

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***This article by Clement Golliet is the first in a series of articles that will be produced for ONcourt. Clement Golliet is the newly appointed Director of ACE Fitness and is overseeing the fitness component of all ACE Tennis High Performance programs, is the Head Trainer at Toronto Tennis City and ACE Burlington, and offers private and group fitness sessions for ACE and OTA players as required. Clement’s mandate is to help build the new ACE Fitness brand and to offer leading edge training for tennis players in Ontario.

Clement has a Bachelors of Kinesiology from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and possesses various certifications in the areas of private training, spinning, T-Rex, performance, and reconditioning. A former high level basketball player and bodybuilder, Clement also has his French Federation Level 3 in kayaking. Before coming to Toronto to work with ACE Fitness, Clement was a personal trainer, fitness, strength, and conditioning coach at Sporting Club Sanctuaire in Montreal for tennis, basketball, and track running. Clement also has professional training in Clinical rehabilitation and experience as a sports teacher in Switzerland.

If you have any questions for Clement, he can be reached here.***

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Despite what many may say that young children should not do resistance training and notwithstanding controversial literature, in fact, the risk of injuries stays at relatively low levels and the number of kids with growth plate fracture remains extremely small.

Today major sports medicine organizations, such as Support Resistance Training for Youth, plead in favour of resistance training and the number of participants increases every year. You have to remember that children are not miniature adults: they cannot be trained with the same philosophy as adults. They should begin with weight lifting at the level that is proportionate with their maturity (biologic age) and their own tissue tolerance. Load is necessary for optimal tissue health at any stage of life, from childhood to the third age. If load and rest are applied smartly and gradually, the tissues get stronger. After a training session, micro traumas are created. The body reacts to this stress caused by the load and every structure gets stronger, for example by increasing bone density (Wolff’s law). But culminating heavy training with poor periods of rest can exceed the tissue tolerance and lead to injuries. The trick is to apply a load below the failure tolerance of the tissue with enough rest. An adaptive tissue response increases tolerance. However, if the rest period is too long, the tissue tolerance does not increase. Loads have to be applied on a regular basis. It is a mix of common sense combined with exercise science and sports medicine.

Youths before adolescence can increase their strength due to neurological factors. This is very important for any type of sport; an appropriate resistance training program is good preparation for sports which are hard on the tissue capacity with lots of accelerations and decelerations and which can lead to injuries. It has been proven that 15% to 50% of injuries commonly sustained by youths could be prevented with an appropriate physical preparation for their sport. E.g. tennis players, with stronger tissues, could never be able to pass the tissue failure tolerance and support more intensity during tournaments.

Resistance training has lots of benefits by increasing muscular endurance strength and power. Even more, while it can reduce injuries, it can also improve motor skills. It is important to quote here J. Weineck, “A large number of children and adolescents fail to reach their maximum potential sport performance for the sole reason that stimuli applied during growth for the development of the support apparatus and the locomotor system were inadequate or too univocal.”

Resistance training has to follow a strict protocol. Below are the recommendations from the National Strength and Conditioning Association:

  • Dynamic warm-up before and static stretch after.
  • Carefully monitor each child’s tolerance to the exercises stress.
  • Begin with light loads to allow appropriate adjustment stress.
  • Increase the resistance gradually 5 to 10% as strength improves.
  • Depending on individual needs and goals. 1 to 3 sets of 6 to 15 reps on a variety of single and multi-joint exercises can be performed.
  • Two to three non-consecutive training sessions per week are recommended.
  • Adult spotters should be nearby to assist the child in the event of failed repletion.
  • Program should be varied throughout the year.
  • Children should drink plenty of water before, during and after the sessions.

Further recommendations from J. Weineck:

  • Avoid inadequate stresses of the motor system, in particular with regard to the spine.
  • To increase load, it is important to first increase the number of reps, and then increase the weight.

To conclude, resistance training has a role to play in the training of young people. Resistance training is not worse than any another sport and it can even be used to prevent injuries and help youths to develop their body and maximise their potential for ultimate performance.

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