Resistance Training for Youth

Here’s a great article I found regarding our youth and fitness. Let’s help them get moving.

Resistance Training for Youth

by Carla B. Sottovia, Ph.D.

It is important that our youth—children and adolescents—be exposed to a variety of activities that enhance all the components of physical fitness. One key fitness component is the development of muscular strength and endurance. Thus, youth participation in a well-supervised resistance training program becomes crucial in order to meet such a goal. For the purpose of this article, the term “children” will refer to pre-adolescent boys and girls (up to approximately the age of 12) and the term “adolescent” will include boys and girls between 13 and 18 years of age. The term “youth” will include both children and adolescents.

The Benefits of Resistance Training 

Research studies strongly suggest that resistance training for youth brings positive benefits. It has been found that most children who adhere to a well-supervised, progressive resistance training program can safely increase their strength and improve their athletic performance. In a meta-analysis of 28 studies on the effectiveness of resistance training in children, Falk & Tenenbaum reported strength gains ranging from 13 to 30 percent. (1) The authors also reported that a training frequency of twice per week was sufficient to induce strength gains; however, the exact duration and intensity remained to be determined. In addition, resistance training may provide some resistance to injury. (2) Stronger, less easily fatigued muscles are less likely to become injured.
Other potential benefits of resistance training for youth may include increases in muscle power, endurance, bone mineral density, body composition, motor performance skills, sports performance, and overall health and well-being.

Mechanisms of Muscular Strength Gains

Prepubescent children gain strength differently than adults. Prior to puberty, motor learning, rather than muscle hypertrophy, is more likely to account for strength increases. (3-7) It appears that muscle-strength gains in children have stemmed from neural adaptations, including changes in motor-unit activation, motor-unit coordination, recruitment, and firing, as opposed to growth in muscle size (hypertrophy).

Moreover, girls and boys achieve similar gains; however, after puberty, boys tend to gain more strength due to testosterone. Furthermore, girls usually experience their fastest increase in muscle strength during their year of most rapid growth, usually about ages of 11.5 to 12.5 years. On the other hand, boys gain muscle strength after their growth spurt, or ages 14.5 to 15.5 years. In addition, training-induced strength gains in boys have been associated with an increase in fat-free mass due to hormonal influences (i.e., testosterone).

Possible Risks and Concerns 

Despite the benefits of resistance-training programs, the potential for injuries does exist for children who participate in them. The most common of these are strains, especially to the lumbar spine. Other concerns have focused on the effects of resistance training on growth and bone maturation. Although injuries to the epiphyseal plate (growth cartilage) have been reported in the past among adolescents involved in resistance-training programs, (8,9) such injuries were due to improper technique and training protocols. Faigenbaum and co-workers, however, indicated that resistance training did not have an adverse effect on growth. (10,11) In fact, resistance training may provide an effective stimulus for growth and bone mineralization in children, especially for those at risk for osteopenia, the presence of less than normal amounts of bone, or osteoporosis, loss of bone tissue resulting in bones that are brittle and liable to fracture.

Thus, most experts would agree that children can undertake a well-supervised resistance training program without incurring any further injuries. (1,5-7,12) As long as the training programs are well supervised and taught with age-specific needs in mind, the risk for injuries among children and adolescents becomes very minimal. (13)

Training Guidelines 

The consensus among most experts is that in the initial adaptation period of training, children/adolescents should begin with a training protocol featuring high repetitions (i.e., 1 set of 10-15 reps) and light to moderate loads, at a minimum of twice per week on nonconsecutive days. (13-15) Exercise selection should include all major muscle groups, with a focus on proper technique and execution.
As youngsters progress through the training regimen, it is important to gradually increase their overall exercise volume (i.e. resistance, repetitions, and load). On average, a 5-10 percent increase in training load (i.e., 2 to 5 lbs.) is appropriate for most exercises. Eventually, they can progress to 2-3 sets of 6-15 repetitions, depending upon needs and goals. (13)



It is crucial that children be exposed to a variety of activities that will enhance all the components of physical fitness, including cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, body composition, and flexibility. Resistance training becomes, then, an important tool for the development of muscular strength and endurance. When properly instructed, it can be safe, effective and, most importantly, fun!


(1) Falk B, Tenenbaum G. The effectiveness of resistance training in children. Sports Med 1996;22(3):176-186.
(2) American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The prevention of sports injuries of children and adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exer 1999;25(8 supplement):1-7.
(3) Ramsay J, Blimkie C, Smith K, et al. Strength training effects in prepubescent boys. Med Sci Sports Exer 1990;22(5):605-614.
(4) Ozmun J, Mikesky A, Surburg P. Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training. Med Sci Sports Exer 1993;26(4):510-514.
(5) Tanner S. Strength training for children and adolescents. Phys Sports Med 1993;21(6):105- 116.
(6) American Academy of Pediatrics. Policy Statement. Pediatrics 2001;107(6):1470-1472.
(7) Guy J, Micheli L. Strength training for children and adolescents. J Amer Acad Orthop Surg 2001;9:29-36.
(8) Gumbs VL, Segal D, Halligan JB, Lower G. Bilateral distal radius and ulnar fractures in adolescent weight lifters. Amer J Sports Med 1982;10(6):375-379.
(9) Ryan J, Salciccioli G. Fracture of the distal radial epiphysis in adolescent weight-lifters. Amer J Sports Med 1976;4:26-27.
(10) Faigenbaum A, Kraemer W, Cahill B. Youth resistance training. Streng Cond 1996;18(6):62-76.
(11) Faigenbaum A. Strength training for children and adolescents. Clin Sports Med 2000;19(4):593-619.
(12) Benjamin H, Glow K. Strength training for children and adolescents. Phys Sports Med Sept 2003;31(9):1-12.
(13) President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Youth resistance training. Res Digest 2003;4(3):1-8.
(14) Faigenbaum A, Loud R, O’Connell J, et al. Effects of different resistance training protocols on upper-body strength and endurance development in children. J Stren Cond Res 2001;15(4):459-465.
(15) Faigenbaum A, Milliken L, Loud R, et al. Comparison of 1 and 2 days per week of strength training in children.

The Benefits of Hiking

Here’s an article I found about the benefits of hiking by Cathy Dold, an avid hiker, is a freelance health and environment writer in Colorado. She is creator of the Certified Good Hiker Kit, which teaches kids how to “have fun, stay safe and tread lightly” in the outdoors.

You know hiking is good for your health. But do you know just how good it is?

For adults, regular aerobic exercise such as hiking leads to:

* Improved cardio-respiratory fitness (heart, lungs, blood vessels)

* Improved muscular fitness

* Lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke

* Lower risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes

* Lower risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides

* Lower risk of colon and breast cancer, and possibly lung and endometrial cancer

* Increased bone density or a slower loss of density

* Reduced depression and better quality sleep

* Lower risk of early death (If you are physically active for 7 hours a week, your risk of dying early is 40% lower than someone active for less than 30 minutes a week.

* Weight control; hiking burns up 370 calories an hour (154-lb person)

Kids get many of the same benefits, including:

* Improved cardio-respiratory and muscular fitness

* Better bone health

* Less chance of becoming overweight

* Less chance of developing risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes

* Possibly reduced risk of depression and feeling less stress, more ready to learn in school

* Sleeping better at night

What’s more, hiking exercises almost every part of your body: legs, knees, ankles, arms, hips and butt, abdominals, shoulders and neck. “Hiking exercises your body and your mind, and nourishes your imagination,” says Ignacio Malpica, a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer in Boulder, Colorado. “It creates awareness in your eyes and ears and the rest of your senses.”

How much activity do you need to reap these incredible health benefits? Experts say getting active for just 150 minutes a week – doing “moderate-intensity” aerobic exercise such as moderate hiking or brisk walking – leads to most of these benefits (reducing risks of colon and breast cancer requires another hour a week). That’s only 2½ hours a week. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Sneaking in a lunchtime hike up the hill near your office counts toward your total, as long as you’re active for at least ten minutes.

If you take part in more vigorous aerobic activities, such as running, dancing, or hiking uphill or with a heavy pack, you need only half that amount of time, or 75 minutes a week, to get health benefits.

What’s moderate exercise? You can talk, but you can’t sing during the activity. Vigorous? You can’t say more than a few words with pausing for breath. “When you are doing moderate exercise, you can continue for a long time, and you are breathing rhythmically,” explains Malpica. “With vigorous exercise, you can’t do it for more than a few minutes at a time.”

And if you rack up even more time, the benefits keep growing too. For even more substantial health benefits, such as an even lower risk of heart disease, aim for 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week.

Of course, there are other kinds of physical activity. It’s also important to do some muscle-strengthening activities, such as lifting weights or doing push-ups. The experts say do those at least twice a week. You also need to get in some bone-strengthening activity, which occurs when force on your bones promotes bone growth and strength. Here again, hiking fits the bill.

Another plus: you don’t have to be in perfect shape to start. Even if you are overweight, getting physical can lead to health benefits. But don’t run out and climb a steep peak if you’ve long been inactive. The experts say if you’re 35 or older and have been inactive for several years, or you already have a condition such as high blood pressure, check with your doctor first. “Hiking is a great way to start exercising,” says Malpica. “Start with easy hikes and work up to steeper hikes that work your legs more.”

Kids (age 6-17) need 60 minutes of physical activity each day, mostly aerobic. They also need regular muscle-strengthening (playing on playground equipment, climbing trees) and bone-strengthening (running, playing basketball, jumping rope) exercise.

All the more reason to check out our Upcoming Events page and join us Saturday morning at 8am for our hike up to Henninger Flats!  See you there!

Introducing TARA!!

Tara Lewallen

I could never be a dentist… Don’t get me wrong, dentists are important and necessary but just the thought of them, causes many people to have sleepless nights, sweaty palms, and anxiety attacks.  I guess you could say my ego would not be strong enough for that occupation. Instead, I wanted people to love me, to be happy to see me, to be disappointed when our time together is over and to be eager for our next appointment. So, there was only one (legal…LOL) career choice for me… I had to become a massage therapist.

In Webster’s terms, a massage is “an act or instance of rubbing and kneading part of the body to loosen up muscles and improve circulation.” But a massage is so much more… It is a complete mind and body experience that is unfortunately deemed by many as an unattainable luxury. It is for the rich, the pampered and the spoiled, for the people with perfect bodies, for women only… blah blah blah. The stereotypes are endless. On the contrary, I believe that a “good, well-connected” massage is the god-given right, privilege and necessity of every human being that walks, crawls or rolls around on this beautiful earth. It is powerful tool that can truly keep both your body and mind tuned up and working properly.  Just read the long list of massage benefits below and you will see what I am talking about.

According to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals’ webpage, Massage:

-        Relaxes and softens injured, tired, and overused muscles.

-        Tones and stretches weak, tight, or atrophied muscles

-        Alleviates pain therefore reducing dependence on certain medications

-        Improves range of motion

-        Increases joint flexibility

-        Enhances the immune system by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system

-        Pumps oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.

-        Improves the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.

-        Reduces stress (Almost 90% of disease today is considered by experts of be stress related)

-        Lessens depression and anxiety

-        Helps athletes of any level to prepare for/recover from strenuous workouts

-        Promotes tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks

-        Reduces post-surgery adhesions and swelling

-        Reduces spasms and cramping

-        Enhances the quality of sleep

Most people are surprised to know that all of these things can be attained through a simple massage. It’s amazing… right? But before you pick up the phone and dial the nearest day spa, please know that all massages are NOT equal. In fact, the most difficult part of this whole processes is finding the right practitioner for you… the trial and error process can be time consuming, disappointing and very expensive. That is where I come into play. As a Certified Massage Practitioner with my very own private office space, I am absolutely dedicated to and passionate about:

  1.  Creating a safe, secure and clean environment for my clients
  2.  Listening intently to what their needs and expectations are
  3. Talking in detail about health histories and injuries
  4. Performing connected massages that are not only enjoyable and relaxing but effective
  5. Creating a treatment plan that is both affordable and realistic for their lives

I am passionate about what I do and I am completely client-centered! That is what sets me apart from the rest. I consider my hands the middle-man between your body and your health. We work in harmony together. I love my job and take it very seriously! So if you are considering adding massage to your health routine, please give me a call. I know that your time and resources come at a cost but so does your youth, vitality and overall health. Massage is not a cure-all miracle but it certainly is an investment to the wellness of your body and the quality of your life. So set up an appointment and see how amazing you feel after your first session… You are definitely worth it!

How to Fit a Balanced Diet into Your Busy Schedule – 8 Tips

Welcome to a typical day at the office. Most of us know it well. You’re not even at your desk yet, and your mind is already preoccupied with emails to answer, phone calls to return, and meetings to attend. Before you know it, lunchtime rolls around and you’re running on nothing but caffeine. By this point, you’re fighting hunger pains, so you head to the vending machines as a temporary solution, or maybe you grab something unhealthy at a nearby fast-food place or roach coach. Four or five hours later, the hunger hits you again and the cycle repeats itself. Does this day sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. These days, a mere 8-hour workday is becoming less and less common. A lot of us are working additional hours at home, on our laptops, and via our smartphones. With crazy hours like these, the best way to make sure you stay on track nutritionally is to prepare yourself a week’s worth of healthy meals in advance. Here are a few tips for doing just that.

  1. Master the grocery store. When you arrive at the grocery store after work, you’re starving and in a hurry to get home. Without thinking, you find yourself drawn into the bright, shiny, end-of-aisle displays like a moth to a flame. Before you know it, you’re about to fill your cart with 10 frozen pizzas for $10.
    Stop! Change direction. Go straight to the produce section and select enough lettuce and fresh vegetables to make a salad that’ll last you all week. It’s best to avoid the center aisles, which contain all the processed foods you want to avoid, and keep to the perimeter of the store. This path will lead you to healthy choices like veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, lean meat, and poultry.
    The items being promoted in the aforementioned end-of-aisle displays are rarely healthy food options. Keeping this in mind will help you walk past these traps and head straight for the good stuff.
  2. Cook out on Sunday. Roast a bunch of chicken, make a big stew, and grill some veggies; you’ll have a great meal on Sunday and enjoy the leftovers for the next few days.
    Another thing to do on Sunday to prep for the week is to wash and chop all that lettuce you bought while strolling the perimeter of the store and put it in a zip-lock bag. With this combination, you’ll have fresh, healthy food to put into meals all week.
  3. Make over your leftovers. Reinvent last night’s chicken for the next day’s lunch. Throw it in a tortilla with some salsa for a yummy burrito. Heat it up with some curry seasoning and chickpeas. Put it in a whole-wheat pita pocket or between two slices of whole-grain bread with crisp lettuce and your favorite seasonings for a healthy sandwich. Toss it into that great salad you prepared, along with some fresh or grilled veggies. The possibilities for different, great-tasting meals are easy—and limited only by your imagination.
  4. Prepack your snacks for work. You may not always have time for a full meal at work, and that’s OK. The night before a busy day, measure out foods—nuts, dried fruit,  sliced veggies—you can graze on all day. Measuring the portions in advance helps assure that you won’t accidentally snarf down an entire 1,000-calorie bag of trail mix.
    Another great approach to snacking that’ll help satisfy you until your lunch (or dinner) rolls around? Some of that protein you cooked up on Sunday, in convenient snack portions. Quick bites of chicken, beef, or tofu with the seasonings of your choice make for a great snack option. And having fresh, lean protein rather than packaged, processed snack items will not only help curb cravings; it’ll also give you sustained energy and help you fight hunger throughout the day.
  5. Hydrate in fashion. Instead of going through tons of plastic bottles at your desk, buy yourself a fancy water bottle. Busy people often forget to hydrate properly. In addition, the average American drinks 57 gallons of soft drinks each year! You can avoid the temptation to purchase soda by refilling a beautiful fashionable water bottle. On a budget? Wash out a glass water, juice, or milk bottle and make that your go-to reusable water bottle.
  6. Be smart about beverage calories. The average American consumes around 400 calories a day in liquid form! This includes soda, sport drinks, energy drinks, juice, and flavored ice teas. You can be smart by making sure any calories you drink are in the form of a meal replacement rather than a hydrator. Water’s still the best hydrator out there.
  7. Combine forces. The total price of ingredients is much higher when you’re buying smaller items and amounts. Cooking for one can seem inefficient, especially when your produce is spoiling and you have to deal with the guilt that comes with throwing away a bag of spinach, or a bundle of brown bananas. Combining forces with a roommate, a coworker, or a friend who lives nearby can help cut costs. If your friend is also health conscious, you can gain support from and give advice to one another.
  8. Don’t go fad-hopping. Will all the new diets, food crazes, and “miracle” supplements popping up, it’s easy to feel confused or insecure about your current choices. If your plan is working, just stay the course. If you want to try something different, message me and we’ll put something together that will work for you, but don’t hop on the latest trend just because your workmates are all talking about it at the water cooler. Do your homework. Read critiques. Talk to people who have tried it for longer than a weekend. Ask yourself, “Is it healthy? Does it involve whole, real foods? Is it realistic?” Finding and keeping a diet that supports your lifestyle will more likely result in long-term success.

Remember, fitness is not just a program, its a lifestyle.

6 Holiday Tips For Staying Fit

So how are we supposed to get through the holidays without gaining weight? Here are six effective ways to get yourself ready to beat the holiday bulge.

Keep exercising. Most fitness trainers will tell you the slowest point of their year is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Sure, their clients schedule workouts with the best of intentions, but then they cancel them for parties and gift shopping. It’s hard to remain balanced when you have a million things to do and gifts to buy. Yet the greatest gift you can give yourself is to stay focused on your fitness goals and get your workout in. Shopping getting in the way? Do it online and save some time. Parties getting in the way? Just show up later. Who cares if everyone else is a couple of cocktails ahead of you? You’ll be healthier, and you won’t have to worry about the embarrassing YouTube® videos in the morning! Just stay consistent, even if it’s inconvenient. You’ll be much less likely to look like Santa (both belly-wise and red-nose-wise) at the end of the month.

Eat before parties. Most holiday parties don’t focus on low-fat, low-calorie refreshments, so unless you’re organizing the event, the best damage control is to show up with a full (or at least almost full) tummy. Make sure you eat your meals and snacks throughout the day, and try to eat a healthy meal before attending any party. If you’re going straight from work, prepare a healthy and filling snack to eat on the way. You’ll be a lot less likely to swim in mayonnaise dips and pigs in blankets if you’re full.

Get junk out of the house. The majority of people don’t get into their car at midnight, drive to the store, buy the ingredients for cookies, bake them, and then stay up to eat them. But if those homemade cookies that Linda in accounting made for you are already on your kitchen counter, you better believe you’ll find a way to justify it. Frankly, at 12:30 AM, after a rotten day, for most of us there’s nothing like a few cookies to drown our sorrows. The secret is to get the garbage out of the house. Send it to work with your significant other, donate it to a bake sale, re-gift it to your 100-pound friend with the perfect metabolism, or just dump it in the trash. Arlene from the customer service department will never know. If you have holiday dinner leftovers, box them up for your guests individually and send them home with them. If your family still sends you that sausage or cookie assortment, invite a bunch of people over for a pre-party party and serve ‘em up before the drinks. Try not to be wasteful, but get the less-than-healthy temptations out of your reach.

Offer to prepare healthy fare. This suggestion won’t be well received by those of us who’d rather spend Thanksgiving sitting around watching football than toiling in the kitchen, but if you do the cooking, you have the control. Your family could have a tasty and satisfying meal without ingesting thousands of calories and fat grams. The way the turkey is prepared, the type of stuffing, how vegetables are made, whether the cranberries are real, and countless other things can make or break the healthiness of a meal. There are tons of cookbooks out there that can help you out. Yes, it does require a bit of work. But you can handle it!

Choose wisely and proportionally. Something occurs during a holiday meal. It’s like a Las Vegas buffet—we feel like we have to eat some of everything. We feel almost like those foods will never exist again, and this is our last meal on the planet. This year, why not try to eat only your favorites, as in two or three items, and keep the portions to the size of your palm? If you’re still hungry, try to fill up on veggies (preferably ones that aren’t drowned in butter or cream-of-mushroom soup). If you want dessert, lean toward a small slice of pumpkin pie (220 calories) as opposed to pecan (a heftier 543), leaving out the hydrogenated non dairy whipped topping if possible. If you’re going to have an alcoholic beverage, go with a flute of champagne (100 calories) as opposed to that rum-laced eggnog (with more than four times more calories, at 420). Just a few wise choices will save you a ton of calories, and probably a significant amount of heartburn as well!

Don’t beat yourself up. Quite possibly the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up over a bit of holiday indulgence. Yes, it does stink to backslide after working your tail off. But sometimes it doesn’t stink as much as dealing with your mother when you turn down her brisket and potato pancakes. Sometimes, we don’t have time to go to work, buy a Christmas tree, decorate it with our kids, make dinner, oversee homework, tuck kids in bed, and spend an hour working out. We can only do our very best. Mentally beating yourself up will only make you feel worse, which never helped anyone get back to their fitness program. So if you happen to gain that 1 extra pound this holiday season, be part of the rare group who actually follows through with their New Year’s resolution and manages to shed it again. A week of hard work and a slight calorie deficit should do the trick. Resolutions don’t come easier than that!




One of the best exercises ever: The Burpee

The exercise known as the burpee  is now accepted as one of the best full-body strengthening moves for all athletes , but especially for runners. The burpee is a high-intensity exercise that engages the core, triceps, chest, shoulders, back, hamstrings, quads and fast-twitch muscles. Good luck finding an exercise that engages this many muscle groups AND taxes your heart as well!! This is what makes the burpee a great exercise for all athletes, but especially runners. It not only builds muscular strength, but increases lung and heart strength, all of which are essential aspects of a well-rounded runner.  Burpees can easily be incorporated into any training program, including running programs.

Labor Day Run Clinic

What better way to start off Labor Day weekend than a nice run! Come join the Sweatworx Weekly Running Clinic (for beginners) on 9/3 at 8am for a 5k paced run.  We’ll be starting on the south side of the rose bowl, east of parking lot K and west of the big field.

We’ll stretch, warm up, run (while learning important fundamentals of good running i.e., posture, breathing, pace, gait), then we’ll cool down and stretch.  Hope to see you there!

Strength & Conditioning Clinic

Come join us for a Strength & Conditioning Clinic on 8/31 at Encanto Park in Duarte, CA.  Start time is 5:30pm and the clinic will last approximately 60-70 minutes. Bring your own water and yoga mat (if desired). We’ll be doing a Sweatworx modified version of the Spartacus workout for beginners! Hope to see you there.


Hard/Easy Principle

Hard/Easy Principle

The hard-easy principle states that if you run faster or longer than usual on one day, you should follow that day with a run that is slower or shorter than usual. It also follows that if you know you are going to have a hard training day coming up, your preceding training run should be easy.

The benefits of incorporating the hard/easy principle include:

  • Reserves your strength for your hard training days (running longer or faster than usual)
  • Enables you to push yourself more
  • Allows your body to recover, rebuild, and progress
  • Helps you avoid both injury and burnout

Remember, plan an easy day the day before a hard workout as well as one or possibly two easy days after. Your body will love you for it!

Hard/Easy Principle

Hard/Easy Principle
The hard-easy principle states that if you run faster or longer than usual on one day, you should follow that day with a run that is slower or shorter than usual. It also follows that if you know you are going to have a hard training day coming up, your preceding training run should be easy.

The benefits of incorporating the hard/easy principle include:

  • Reserves your strength for your hard training days (running longer or faster than usual)
  • Enables you to push yourself more
  • Allows your body to recover, rebuild, and progress
  • Helps you avoid both injury and burnout

Remember, plan an easy day the day before a hard workout as well as one or possibly two easy days after. Your body will love you for it!