Free‐Weight Resistance Training in Youth Athletes: A Narrative Review.

McQuilliam, S. J., Clark, D. R., Erskine, R. M., & Brownlee, T. E. (2020).


Generating high levels of muscular strength and power are important for success in sport and may have long-term implications for sporting careers in youth athletes. Importantly, maturation may confound the neuromuscular adaptations to resistance training when attempting to differentiate between training- vs. growth-induced strength and power gains; thus, potentially leading to erroneous conclusions regarding the efficacy of resistance training in youth athletes. The aim of this review was to critically appraise the literature concerning the efficacy of externally loaded free-weight resistance training on strength and power measures in youth athletes at different stages of maturity. Strength underpins power production; thus, developing strength through traditional resistance training methods can positively influence powerful sporting movements. In addition, weightlifting has the capacity to improve muscular power via explosive lower-body triple extension, which is essential for many sports. Despite the complexity of the techniques involved, it can be a safe and effective method to improve athletic qualities in young athletes, potentially more so than plyometric training. While low-load, high-velocity training can have a positive effect influence on high speed movements such as sprinting, the reduced intensity appears to be disadvantageous post peak-height velocity. Irrespective of age, well-coached progressive strength training adhering strictly to correct technique can then be periodised within a long-term athletic development program. It is important to primarily develop muscular strength, while concurrently refining the technical skill required for weightlifting. Physically mature athletes should undertake high- intensity resistance training to maximise neuromuscular adaptations, leading to positive changes in strength and power.