Archive for “Stagnation” Tag

Overtraining Young Athletes – Part 2

 

 

Young Athletes

In my last article on overtraining, I offered the suggestion that as trainers and coaches, we must take a deeper look at how we program for and train our athletes. I have made a career out of advocating for the use of more moderate training intensity and volume with young athletes, but this goes even further – it goes to the route of our programming abilities and skills. How much time do we truly spend in designing, monitoring and dynamically adjusting our training programs?

 

General overtraining syndromes impact both the central nervous system as well as the endocrine system. Given that the regulation of many hormones within the endocrine system serve to oversee and manage our stress levels, it is fair to imply that general overtraining could be considered a stress related issue.

 

Two types of general overtraining have been recognized –

 

1. Addisonic Overtraining – This version is related to Addison’s disease and involves a reduction in the activity of the adrenal glands. This class of overtraining impacts the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system, but shows no striking signs at first. A general stagnation or dip in an athlete’s performance (day-to-day) may be an indication or symptom.

 

2. Basedowic Overtraining – This version is connected to thyroid hyperactivity and named after Basedow’s disease (also known as Graves’ disease). This class of overtraining impacts the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system and brings with it a host of identifiable symptoms (reduced reaction time, tire easily, poor motivation, appetite and sleep requirement changes).

 

I offer these two definitions in an attempt to encourage us all to take a closer look at our young athletes when they walk in our doors. As I mentioned in last week’s article, over the past number of training sessions, I could see subtle signs of both these overtraining conditions in the actions and reactions of my athletes.

 

The Winter Holiday (complete with inappropriate nutrition and sleep deprivation) had combined with Final Exams Week (complete with undue amounts of psychological stress, inappropriate nutrition and sleep deprivation) leaving many of my young athletes looking and feeling lethargic. That isn’t to say that notable extraneous circumstances alone (i.e. Winter Holiday coupled with Finals) will always account for a potential overtraining situation, in fact, very often it can be quite subtle:

 

  • Broke up with girlfriend or boyfriend

  • Received a ‘C’ in math

  • Doesn’t understand English homework

  • Is freaked out about driver’s test coming up in a few weeks

 

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Youth Strength Training Mistakes

 

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Youth Strength Training Done Right

Should pre-adolescent kids lift weights or shouldn’t they? Will it stunt their growth or increase their likelihood of future sporting success? Is growth plate damage a real concern or merely an exaggerated issue?

 

This debate has raged on for years.

 

Hopefully, this article will help clear up some of the concerns on youth strength training.

 

To start, there are definitive differences between adolescent boys and adolescent girls with respect to strength and strength production. In boys, absolute muscular strength (the greatest amount of force an individual can produce) grows consistently between the ages of 7 – 19. In girls, strength gains are incurred on a consistent level until about the age of 15, when a period of stagnation occurs and strength gains plateau, and in fact begins to fall. By the end of the pubescent ages, boys are roughly 50% stronger than girls.

 

There are several factors to consider when programming strength training for young athletes –

 

Central Nervous System Maturity – The true argument with respect to children and weight lifting should not be based on the maturity (or in this case immaturity) of the child’s muscular system, but rather the advancement of the child’s CNS. Within proper application of load, volume and intensity, a child’s muscular system will not be compromised by weight training activities. However, a lack of motor control (a function of the CNS) will affect the child’s ability to perform weight-training exercises safely. It is therefore the maturity of the CNS that is the ultimate determining factor.

 

Cross Section Of Muscle – A larger muscle infers a greater strength potential. While hypertrophy of this sort is not hormonally possible with pre-adolescent athletes, this fact is why I advocate that early adolescent athletes train with hypertrophy-based responses in mind.

 

Biological Maturity – Biological age, unlike a child’s chronological age, is not actually visible. Biological age is based in large part to the “physiological development of the various organs and systems in the body” (Bompa, 2000). For example, the adequate development of bone, the efficiency of the heart and lungs to transport oxygen; these are examples of items that comprise biological age. This becomes important when determining the volume or intensity of the training program for the young athlete.

 

Hormonal Issues – Androgenic (muscle building) hormones are low in pre-adolescent athletes. This means that hypertrophy-based responses are all but impossible. Strength gains, however, are very possible.

 

Technical Issues – Providing a proper foundation of the technical merits of youth strength training is paramount when working with youngsters.

 

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