CSCS Chapter 7: Age and Sex Related Differences and their Implications for Resistance Exercise
CSCS Study Guide Chapter 7

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    Chapter Objectives

    • Look at the evidence for safety, effectiveness, and the importance of resistance exercise or children.
    • Learn the sex-related differences in muscular functions and their implications for females.
    • Learn the aging effects on musculoskeletal health and describe the trainability of older adults.
    • Elaborate on the adaptations to resistance exercise and how they vary greatly among three populations.


    The Growing Child

    Chronological age vs. Biological Age

    Chronological age is defined as the stage of maturation or development descried in months and years.

    Biological age is the stage of maturation put in terms of skeletal age, sexual maturation, and physique maturity.

    The degree of growth in stature or the subdimensions of the body is your Somatic Age.

    The training age is the amount of time someone has followed a formalized and supervised resistance training program.

    Puberty is when secondary sex characteristics are developing, and children have become young adults.

    Changes occur in body composition and physical skill performance during puberty.

    Children don’t grow at a constant rate. There are many differences between individuals in physical development at any age.

    Young athletes may have high risk of injury at their peak high velocity.

    Muscle and Bone Growth

    Muscle mass increases steadily through the years of development.

    There are many hormonal increases during puberty in boys which results in a great increase in muscle mass and shoulder widening.

    Girls have a higher increase in estrogen production which will cause an increased body fat deposition, development of breasts, and hip widening.

    Long bones stop growing when the epiphyseal plates become ossified.

    Growth cartilage trauma and overuse is a major concern for children.

    Developmental Changes in Muscular Strength

    For boys, the peak gains in strength occur about 1.2 years following height velocity and 0.8 years after peak weight velocity.

    For girls, peak strength gains happen after peak height velocity, but there is more variation for individuals relating to strength to height and body weight.

    Peak strength is typically present by about age 20 in untrained women, and between 20 and 30 for men who are untrained.

    Nervous system development is an important factor in expressing muscular strength.

    There are three body types:

    • Mesomorphic bodies are muscular with broad shoulders.
    • Endomorphic bodies are rounder and have broader hips.
    • Ectomorphic bodies are taller and slenderer.

    Youth Resistance Training

    Previously it was thought that children were unable to benefit from resistance based exercise ad their injury risk was too high. It is now agreed by most, that resistance exercise can be safe and effective for conditioning children.

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    Training induced gains from short, low volume programs are unable to be distinguished from gains due to normal growth and development.

    Strength gains in the 30-40% range have been observed on average in the untrained preadolescent children following short term resistance programs.

    Like adults, children need to continuously train in order to maintain strength advantages from the exercise-induced adaptations.

    Preadolescents have a higher potential for increasing their strength owing to neural factors. These increases occur in motor unit activation and synchronization, as well as motor unit recruitment and the frequency of firing.

    Youth Resistance Training

    Potential Benefits

    • Participation in these programs can influence health and fitness measure.

    Potential Risks and Concerns

    • Prescribed programs are typically safe.

    Program Design Considerations for Children

    • Quality of the instruction and rate of progression should be considered.
    • Skill development, personal success, and fun are major things to consider.

    How can we reduce the risk of overuse injuries in youth?

    Sport medicine physicians should evaluate young athletes before their participation in sports.

    Parents should be educated by the professionals regarding the risks and benefits of competitive sports.

    Children and adolescents need to be encouraged to participate in long-term programs with proper recovery time between sport seasons.

    Programs for training need to be multidimensional. They need to incorporate resistance training elements, speed, plyometric and agility development, fundamental movement skills, and dynamic stabilization.

    Coaches for youth need to have well planned strategies for recovery in between their hard workouts and competitions.

    Healthy lifestyle habits should be followed by youth.

    Continued professional development programs should be participated in by youth sport coaches.

    Coaches need to both support and encourage their youth  to participate in activity, but they shouldn’t pressure them to perform beyond their capabilities.

    Children should try many different sports and activities.

    Youth Resistance Guidelines

    Every child needs to know the risks and benefits that come with resistance training.

    Fitness professionals that are both competent and caring should supervise the training sessions.

    Exercise environments should be safe and hazard free. Equipment needs to be in good condition and the proper size for the children.

    Dynamic warm-ups are recommended before resistance training.

    Static stretching should occur following resistance training.

    Children should be carefully monitored to see their tolerance to exercise stress.

    You should start off with light loads.

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    Resistance should gradually increase as their strength improves. Typically, we increase 5 – 10 percent at a time.

    1 -3 sets of 6 – 15 reps is the typical set up for moves and is based on the child’s needs and goals.

    If you use appropriate loads and teach proper form, then you can teach youth advanced multi joint exercises.

    Adults should be available to spot assist children.

    Resistance training programs need to be varied systematically during the year.

    Female Athletes

    Sex differences

    Body size and body composition

    There are rally no differences in height, weight and body size of boys and girls prior to them hitting puberty.

    Adult women typically have more body fat and less muscle than men do.

    Women also typically are lighter in body weight than men are.

    Strength and Power output

    For absolute strength, women typically are 2/3 as powerful as men.

    Comparisons that exist between fat free mass or muscle cross sectional area for men compared to women show that the difference in this area are nonexistent.

    In relation to absolute strength, women are only weaker than men in terms of their quantity of muscle, the quality of muscle is the same for both sexes.

    Resistance Training for Female Athletes

    Responsiveness to Resistance Training in Women

    Women are able to increase strength as fast, or faster, than men.

    Female Athlete Triad

    This is defined as the relationship between available energy, function of menstrual cycle, and density of bone. A high risk for female athletes is when they train for a long time without the sufficient caloric intake needed for them to satisfy their high energy expenditure of training and the adaptations.

    Amenorrhea occurs when there is an absence of the menstrual cycle for 3 months or more.

    For females, resistance training has increases in bone mineral density for the various skeletal regions in the body.

    When females are given resistance training programs, the strength and conditioning professionals need to ensure that they have the proper nutritional intake to support their prescription so they can adapt and recover.

    Program Design Considerations

    Awareness of knee injury risk in females is important for the strength and conditioning professionals, This is truer in basketball and soccer.

    Females are 6 times more likely to tear their ACL than their male counterparts.

    How can female athletes reduce ACL injury risk?

    Sports medicine physician screenings.

    Year round conditioning is recommended for female athletes. It should have resistance, plyometrics, speed and agility, and also flexibility within.

    Females need extra focus for learning correct movement mechanics.

    General Warm-ups and specific warm-ups should be included every training session.

    Augmented feedback during training is vital to optimize their skill transfer and enhance their biomechanics relating to ACL injuries,

    Injury prevention programs should be pushed and encouraged.

    Athletes are recommended to wear the appropriate clothing and gear during their practices and games.

    Older Adults

    Age Related Changes in Musculoskeletal health

    Bone and muscle loss from aging will increase people’s risk for falls, hip fractures, and long term disability.

    Bones get more fragile with age due to the bone mineral content decreasing. Bones become more porous over time due to this.

    After 30, your muscles start to lose cross sectional areas of individual muscles. There is a decrease in muscle density and an increase in intramuscular fat.

    Osteopenia occurs when there is a bone mineral density between -1 and -2.5 standard deviation of the young adult mean.

    Osteoporosis occurs when there is a bone mineral density that is lower than -2.4 of the young adult mean.

    With Advancing ages, we see a loss of muscle mass, largely attributed to decreased physical activity. Muscular strength and power follow this muscle mass loss.

    Age-related Changes in Neuromuscular Function

    Seniors have a higher risk of falling.

    Falls may lead to permanent disability, becoming institutionalized, and it can also be fatal.

    There are intrinsic factors leading to higher risks of falling

    • Decreases in muscle strength and power.
    • Lowered reaction time.
    • An impaired balance and stability

    Physical activity interventions have been helpful for improving older adults’ neuromotor function and preventing their falls.

    • Increasing physical activity alone will not solve the issue of falls.
    • Seniors need additional programs with elements of resistance and balance.

    Resistance Training for Older Adults

    Responsiveness to Resistance Training in Older Adults

    Older men and women still have the ability to improve their own strength and functional ability.

    Aerobic and resistance exercise are both beneficial to older adults. Only resistance training can give improvements in muscular strength and power.

    Safety Recommendations for Resistance Training for Older Adults

    Prescreening should happen for all clients.

    5 – 10 minutes for warm-ups should happen prior to exercise.

    Static stretching is important before and/or after resistance training.

    Resistance weights that won’t overtax the musculoskeletal system should be used.

    Avoiding using the Valsalva maneuver is important. 

    Exercises should be performed in a pain free range of motion.

    Qualified instructors should be giving the exercise instruction.

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