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Functional Training for Youth

Functional strength training benefits adolescents.

Young girl exercising as training for youth

New data support the use of functional training for youth and show that it is more effective in improving fitness than traditional physical education. Functional strength training for youth in their early teens led to significant improvements in flexibility, stability, functional movement patterns and health-related functional strength, according to a study published in Perceptual and Motor Skills (2021; doi:10.1177/00315125211056865).

An international group of researchers enrolled 266 middle- and high-school students into a 12-week functional strength training program or a control group of regular physical education classes. At the end of the study period, the functional strength training participants experienced significant improvements in the functional movement screen, situps, pullups and flexibility when compared with those in traditional PE classes. The study authors recommend that the functional strength training program be included in the PE curriculum for teens.

See also: Are Functional HIIT Workouts the Fountain of Youth?

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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