5 Common Adolescent Female Training Questions

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At Juggernaut Training Systems we often receive questions from parents about our unique training methods and how they impact their children’s safety and performance. These are the five most common questions we get at Juggernaut concerning our female athletes:

“Will Lifting Weights ‘Stunt’ Her Growth?”

This is often a concern with many parents as soon as they see the weights, barbells, kettlebells, and chains when they begin training with Juggernaut. The effect of resistance training on linear growth has been a huge area of focus and research over the last two decades. The major aspect being studied here is the epiphyseal plate, know as the ‘growth plate’ to many. This plate is located at the ends of long bones in adolescents and allows for linear growth throughout the pubertal years. It has become popular belief that load bearing while these plates are still ‘open’ will retard the growth process from happening and should therefore be avoided. Numerous recent studies have concluded that this assertion is not only false, but that adolescents that underwent resistance training had greater linear growth in long bones that those who did not.1-2 Load bearing, when appropriate, has no adverse effects on the joints or maturation process of the adolescent body 3-5, it increases bone density, it invites a host on hormonal responses in the body that are advantageous to improved athletic performance, 1, 6-9 and over all emotional well being.1,3,10

“Is That Safe, She’s Not Going To Get Injured Is She?”

Risk of injury when resistance training is a major area of concern for parents of adolescent athletes. Many times parents would prefer to sacrifice improved performance in order to reduce the risk of injury. Injuries reported in resistance training does not occur more frequently in adolescents than in adults.3,11,12 Studies have shown that the occurrence of injury in sporting events were far higher than resistance training in children and adolescents,1,3 and that resistance training accounted for less than 1% of all injuries.3,12 Resistance training has been proven to increase muscular strength over time,1,2,13-15 and should therefore be viewed as injury preventative as the muscles surrounding soft tissue and joints are strengthened. As a result, when an athlete moves and jumps, stronger muscles absorb the force rather than joints and vertebrae. The benefits of resistance training far outweigh the risk of injury,3,16,17 and it is now accepted knowledge that children and adolescents should take part in a resistance training program. This is encouraged by groups such as the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.18-21

“Isn’t That Going To Make Her Bulky, I Want Her To Be Fit and Tone?”

Gaining weight and size is mainly influenced by genetics and nutrition habits not lifting weights. During adolescence, males have an increase in muscle size and growth rates when compared to females.1,22 This is mainly due to the increased rates of testosterone in males compared to females.23 Because of this lowered testosterone level and growth rate potential, resistance training causes an increase in muscle density rather than size in females.22,24,25 Resistance training therefore can only develop lean muscle in women not ‘bulky’ mass, body composition goals are met through proper nutrition. Muscle tone is a buzz word in the fitness community, but all it refers to is the amount of fat overlaying a muscle. Strength training increases metabolic rate and will help an athlete burn fat, thus making all their muscles more ‘toned’.

“Isn’t Bodyweight and Low Weight/Hi Rep training the best way to improve a female’s athletic ability?”

Muscles are the only part of the body that causes movement to occur. The stronger these muscles are, the greater force an athlete will be able to generate through a single muscle contraction. While body weight training alone will yield results for a time, an athlete must train with external resistance to derive the greatest performance benefits. Numerous studies have shown that adolescents using relatively heavy weights were 20- 30% stronger than those using only body weight.1,2,13-15 Because there is no major muscle mass gain in adolescents when lifting weights, strength gains are mainly due to the improved muscular coordination resistance training causes.1 Lifting relatively heavy weights, when the athlete is prepared, is the best way to improve force development and intramuscular coordination, making each effort (jump, spike, dig, etc) more forceful, and therefore better.1,13,26 Athletic performance has been shown to improve most under a program that follows the Progressive Overload Method.3,10,27-29 Simply put, when the athlete can safely and effectively complete a movement, we incrementally increase the amount of resistance and performance continues to improve. 29

“What Can We Expect From Your Program?”

First and foremost, RESULTS. Juggernaut’s first concern is the General Physical Preparation (GPP) of the athlete. We take special care to teach proper technique for all training methods and safely progress you/your daughter from body weight exercises to movements using external resistance. Juggernaut uses a progression that is appropriate for the individual athletes’ level and has a program oriented around proper intensity, safety, exercise order and coaching.3,10,27,28 We will offer three different program levels for athletes to participate in. These three programs and goals of each are detailed below:

Each level will produce results and improve performance, the level chosen should be based on age, parental preference, and level of initial relative strength of the athlete. Greatest improvements will occur in Level 3, as discussed above, as muscle strength is progressively increased, so is performance. Juggernaut Training Systems bases every training method on scientific research, personal practice, and proven results. Juggernaut is not a place for those wanting to be average, but for those who want to maximize every aspect of their potential to become great. When will you begin preparing to “Overwhelm Your Opposition”?


1. Falk, Bareket, Eliakim, Alon. Resistance Training, Skeletal Muscle, and Growth. The Ribstein Center for Sport Medicine Sciences and Research. Pediatric Endocrinology Reviews 2003, Vol. 1.

2. Sadres E, Eliakim A, Constantini N, Lidor R, Falk B. The of long term resistance training on anthropometric measures, muscle strength,

and self concept in pre-pubertal boys. Ped Exerc Sci 2001; 13:357-372.

3. Miller, Michael, Cheatham, Christopher, Patel, Neil. Resistance Training for Adolescents. Pediatr Clin N Am 2010; 57: 671-682.

4. Falk B, Eliakim A. Resistance training, skeletal muscle and growth. Pediatr Endo-crinol Rev 2003;1:120–7.

5. Malina R. Weight training in youth-growth, maturation, and safety: an evidence-based review. Clin J Sport Med 2006;16(6):478–87.

6. Blanksby B., Gergor J. Anthropmetric, strength and physiological changes in male and female swimmers with progressive resistance training. Aust J Sport Sciences 1981; 1:177-182.

7. Nidl BC, Kraemer WJ, Marx JO, Arciero PJ, Dohi K, Kellogg MD, Loomis GA. Overnight responses of the circulating IGF-1 system after acute, heavy resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol 2001; 90: 1319-1326.

8. Bermon S, Ferrari P, Bernard P, Altare S, Dolisi C. Responses of total and free insulin-like growth factor-1 and insulin-like growth factor-1 binding protein-3 after resistance exercise and training in elderly subjects. Acta Physiol Scand 1999; 165: 51-56.

9. Bamman MM, Shipp JR, Jiang J, Gower BA, Hunter GR, Goodman A, McLafferty CL Jr, Urban RJ. Mechanical load increases muscle IGF-1 and androgen receptor mRNA concentrations in humans. Am J Physiol 2001; 280: E383-E390.

10. Faigenbaum A, Kraemer W, Blimkie CJR, et al. Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association. J Strength Cond Res 2009;23 (Suppl 5):S60–79.

11. Myer G, Quatman C, Khoury J, et al. Youth versus adult weightlifting injuries presenting to United States emergency rooms: accidental versus nonaccidental injury mechanisms. J Strength Cond Res 2009;23(7):2054–60.

12. Zaricznyj B, Shattuck L, Mast T, et al. Sports-related injuries in school-aged children. Am J Sports Med 1980;8(5):318–24.

13. Ramsay JA, Blimkie CJR, Smith K, Garner S, MacDougall J, Sale D. Strength training effects in prepubescent boys. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1990; 22: 605-614.

14. Falk B, Tenenbaum G. The effectiveness of resistance training in children. Sports Med 1996; 22: 176-186.

15. Payne VG, Morrow JR, Johnson L, Dalton SN. Resistance training in Children and youth: A meta-analysis. Res Quart Exerc Sport 1997; 1:80-88.

16. Davis J, Tung A, Chak S, et al. Aerobic and strength training reduces adiposity in overweight Latina adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2009; 41(7):1494–503.

17. Dorgo S, King G, Candelaria N, et al. Effects of manual resistance training on fitness in adolescents. J Strength Cond Res 2009;23(8):2287–94.

18. American Academy of Pediatrics: Committee on Sports Medicene. Strength training, weight and power lifting and body building by children and adolescents. Pediatrics 1990; 86: 801-803.

19. American College of Sports Medicine. Guidelines for exercise testing and prescription for children, the elderly and pregnancy. Philadelphia: Williams & Williams, 1995, pp. 220-240.

20. Faigenbaum AD, Kramer WJ, Cahill B, Chandler J, Dziados J, Elfrink LD, Forman E, Gaudiose M, Micheli L, Nitka M, Roberts S. Youth resistance training: Position statement paper and literature review: Position statement. Strength Cond 1996; 18: 62-76.

21. International Federation of Sports Medicine (FIMS). Resistance training for children and adolescents. In: Chan K-M, Micheli LJ, eds. Sports and Children. Hong Kong: Williams & Wilkins Asia-Pacific Ltd., 1998; 265-270.

22. Sale DG, Spriet LL. Skeletal muscle function and energy metabolism. In: Bar-Or O, Lamb DR, Clarkson PM, eds. Exercise and the Female- A Life Span Approach. Perspectives in Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Vol. 9. Carmel, IN: Cooper Publishing Group, 1996.

23. Kraemer ,William J., Staron, Robert S., Hagerman, Fredrick C., Hikida, Robert S., Fry, Andrew C., Gordon, Scott E., Nindl ,Bradley C., and others. The effects of short-term resistance training on endocrine function in men and women. Eur J Appl Physiol 1998) 78: 69-76.

24. Always SE, Grumbt WH, Gonyea WJ, Stray-Grunderson. Contrasts in muscle and myofibers of elite male and female bodybuilders. J Appl Physiol 1989; 67:24-31.

25. Miller AEJ, Macdougall JD, and others. Gender differences in strength and muscle fiber characteristics. Eur J Appl Physiol 1993; 66: 254-262.

26. Ozmun, JC, Mikesky AE, Surburg PR. Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1994; 26: 510-514.

27. Ratamess NA, Alvar BA, Evetoch TK, et al. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand; 2009. Available at: Accessed February 22, 2010.

28. Baechle TR, Earle RW, Wathen MS. Resistance training. In: Baechle TR, Earle RW, editors. National Strength and Conditioning Association Essentials for resistance training. 3rd edition. Champaign (IL): Human Kinetics; 2008. p. 381–412.

29. Zatisrosky, Vladimir M. Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kenetics, Chicago, Illinois 2006.[/info_box]

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