Muscle Strengthening for Children – Improving Health & Performance

Earlier this year, Professor Avery Faigenbaum (world leader on youth resistance training) presented a seminar in the UK. Although I was not able to attend I have just read the overview in the latest UKSCA Professional Strength & Conditioning Journal (Issue 28, April 2013) and i thought it was important to share some of these issues to the wider community of coaches, teachers and parents.

The article summarises the importance of muscle strengthening for children, which  I believe many people are still afraid of the term muscle strengthening and would not no where to start in developing this vital quality in children. There are some essential reasons for developing strength in children, which include:

  • Injury Prevention – If children don’t develop movement and strength competencies before starting in sport, then injuries are likely.
  • Physical Inactivity – Today’s lack of physical activity in children (instead grabbing for the TV remote or iPad) leads to obesity. Obesity then leads to diseases such as Type II diabetes. Increasing muscle strength increases motor competence therefore increasing ability to undertake physical activity and increase fitness levels.

How important are educational skills such as reading, readingand numeracy? Well, children learning how to move is just as important and developing muscular strength must be part of this and has been shown to improve running, jumping and throwing performance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity (including activities to strengthen muscle and bone) daily in children.

The lack of strength and movement is also a problem in many active children, with too much time spent on sport specific skills than general movement and strength capabilities. Far too often have I seen players enter an academy system (at 15-16 years of age) that cannot run, jump or squat correctly. It is essential we get these basic fundamentals in place in children from an early age to reduce injuries, improve sports performance and ultimately improve health of the nation.

The LTAD model suggests a number of steps. Children aged 0-5 should be actively playing – learning how to control there own body weight in playful activities (do we see children on the climbing frame at the local park anymore?). Between the ages of 6-12 years children shown then be learning how to run and jump correctly and performing body weight strength exercises and progressing these to adding light resistance such as medicine balls. Then introducing weight lifting technique is the next step. These are based around 7 types of movements of squat, lunge, push, pull, brace, rotate and hinge recommended by Kelvin Giles of movement dynamics.

Faigenbaum summarises perfectly with a simple formula, muscle strength leads to motor skills leads to physical activity leads to lifetime fitness. If your a coach, teacher or parent it is important you understand this and try and start incorporating these activities into the daily life’s of your children. This is essential for both the overall health and sporting performance of our country in the future .If you want more information or ideas on how you might start to implement this then please feel free to contact me at


Developing Fundamental Movements in Children

I was recently directed to the following video (Fundamentals in Barca Youth Players). I thought this would be worth sharing with you all. The video is an example session from some youth football players at Barcelona FC, probably aged 8-9 years. The video demonstrates these young players with exceptional Agility, Balance and Co-ordination alongside speed and footwork within a fun and competitive training environment.

Agility, Balance and Co-ordination (the ABCs of movement) are the Fundamentals of Movement recommended to be developed in children from the earliest ages. These skills are thought to be pre-requisites for developing athletic performance in youths. Unfortunately, children in the UK currently lack these fundamental skills and it is essential they are developed during this key time to enhance future performance.

If any young athletes or parents want advice on developing these fundamentals of movement for future sporting performance then please do not hesitate to get in contact with me at


IYCA Big Book of Programs

I recently wrote a book chapter for the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) Big Book of Programs. The book has been launched today and you can get your copy here - IYCA’s Big Book of Programs

To give you a bit of info, the International Youth Conditioning Association (IYCA) is the number 1 youth fitness & sports performance education & certification organization in the world. Their CEO (Pat Rigsby) asked 50 top Youth Conditioning Coaches in the world to write a chapter giving detailing one of their best programs. Luckily I was one of those 50! All the programs were then compiled into one book to make an amazing resource of over 600 pages for developing youth’s fitness and  conditioning programs across a range of ages, sports and contexts.

This is a great resource for any coach, fitness specialist or even parent so make sure you buy your copy today. The half price sale lasts until Friday so you can grab this for $49.95 (about £33).

I hope you find this resource useful and as always don’t hesitate to ask any questions


High Intensity Training Circuits for a Happy New Year

Now that the Christmas and New Year festivities are over we should all be aiming for a fitter and healthier 2013. To help you on your way to improving your fitness, health and performance, I thought it would be worthwhile to repost my 3 high intensity circuit sessions that proved very popular earlier last year.

High Intensity Circuit Session 1

High Intensity Circuit Session 2

High Intensity Circuit Session 3

The circuits are a great way of developing both muscular and aerobic fitness and will develop muscle whilst burning fat. It will also increase your metabolism post session and is a great way to add some variation to your training.

Good luck with the New Years training and if you need any tips or advice from me then don’t hesitate to get in contact via

All the best for 2013!



More Group Fitness Sessions

KT Conditioning and Rob Burrow ( group fitness and conditioning sessions are now coming into their third week. The sessions have so far been successful (see the photos below) with all participants enjoying and being challenged by the expert coaching and training methods used.

A further 2 sessions are planned in the coming week – Wednesday 12th September @ 6.30pm and Saturday 15th September @ 10am. The venue will again be Pasture Way, Whitwood, Castleford (WF10 5TP, the former Smawthorne fields approx 800m from the M62).

Remember, the sessions are designed for EVERYONE regardless of your fitness level. Although the training will be challenging (training is meant to be!) everyone can train at their own individual intensity within a group environment with the encouragement and help of the coaches and other participants.

Remember, to book your place by emailing or please don’t hesitate to ask for more information. Prior to commencing training all individuals must complete a Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) and Personal Information Sheet so please make sure you email in advance. Sessions are £5 per person.

See you this week

KT and RB