American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise
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Successful resistance-training programs require proper exercise selection, instruction and technique. When it comes to performance technique, kids are likely to attempt lifting weights that are too heavy for their abilities or perform an excessive number of repetitions with improper form unless a professional is properly supervising them. However, even when being supervised, it’s important to teach the proper speed and range of motion for lifting, especially in the initial learning phase. Speed and range of motion can help maximize the results for each exercise, as well as prevent injury, so take the time to teach these principles.

There are two specific phases to focus on during resistance training: the concentric and eccentric phases of movement. During the concentric phase the muscles are shortening and it requires the most effort to lift the weight. During the eccentric phase the muscles are lengthening and it requires the most control of the body to lower the weight. Beginners need to perform both phases slowly and with control.

Generally, faster movement speeds require more initial effort in the beginning to overcome the resistance, but then less effort throughout the remainder of the movement due to the momentum. Recommend slower movements that require more consistent muscular force throughout the entire movement so that kids utilize more control. They should focus on exhaling during the lifting phase (concentric) and inhaling on the lowering phase (eccentric), using a count of 4 to perform both the concentric and eccentric phases of lifting and lowering.

When considering proper range of motion, always avoid positions that cause joint discomfort. Encourage moving through a full range of motion for each resistance exercise as long as it is pain free. During more complex exercises like the back squat and deadlift, range of motion needs to be clearly defined to protect the back and joints.

Here are a few exercises that demonstrate both speed and range of motion. Perform 10 to 15 controlled repetitions with appropriate resistance. If the youth cannot perform the appropriate speed and range of motion for each exercise, the resistance is likely too heavy and the exercise should be modified or the resistance decreased.

Resistance Band Biceps Curl

Speed: Count of 4 while performing the concentric and eccentric phase

Range of motion: Start with the band under both feet and the handles in each hand. Extend the arms fully with the palms facing up.

Concentric phase: Exhale while using the biceps and bending the elbows, bringing the hands to meet the shoulders.

Eccentric phase: Slowly lower the hands and extend the elbows straight.

Clockwork for Shoulders

Speed: Count of 4 while performing the concentric and eccentric phase

Range of motion: Start with arms fully extended. Hold free weights with the palms facing out and pinkies close to touching.

Concentric phase: Exhale while bringing the arms in a circle motion like a clock above the head to 12 o’clock. Keep the palms facing out as the thumbs now come close to touching.

Eccentric phase: Slowly lower the arms in the same clock pattern back to the starting position.

Single-leg Squat

Speed: Count of 4 while performing the concentric and eccentric phase

Range of motion: Start with one foot on the side of a 6-inch box and one leg hanging off the side.

Eccentric phase: Slowly lower the hanging leg toward the floor and gently touch the heel of the foot to the ground.

Concentric phase: Exhale as you press through the heel of the foot on the box to come up from the floor and straighten the leg.

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