Effects and dose–response relationships of resistance training on physical performance in youth athletes: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Objectives

To quantify age, sex, sport and training type-specific effects of resistance training on physical performance, and to characterise dose–response relationships of resistance training parameters that could maximise gains in physical performance in youth athletes.

Design

Systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies.

Data sources

Studies were identified by systematic literature search in the databases PubMed and Web of Science (1985–2015). Weighted mean standardised mean differences (SMDwm) were calculated using random-effects models.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies

Only studies with an active control group were included if these investigated the effects of resistance training in youth athletes (6–18 years) and tested at least one physical performance measure.

Results

43 studies met the inclusion criteria. Our analyses revealed moderate effects of resistance training on muscle strength and vertical jump performance (SMDwm 0.8–1.09), and small effects on linear sprint, agility and sport-specific performance (SMDwm 0.58–0.75). Effects were moderated by sex and resistance training type. Independently computed dose–response relationships for resistance training parameters revealed that a training period of >23 weeks, 5 sets/exercise, 6–8 repetitions/set, a training intensity of 80–89% of 1 repetition maximum (RM), and 3–4 min rest between sets were most effective to improve muscle strength (SMDwm 2.09–3.40).

Summary/conclusions

Resistance training is an effective method to enhance muscle strength and jump performance in youth athletes, moderated by sex and resistance training type. Dose–response relationships for key training parameters indicate that youth coaches should primarily implement resistance training programmes with fewer repetitions and higher intensities to improve physical performance measures of youth athletes.

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