To quantify age, sex, sport and training type-specific effects of resistance training on physical performance, and to characterise dose–response relationships of resistance training parameters that could maximise gains in physical performance in youth athletes.
Studies were identified by systematic literature search in the databases PubMed and Web of Science (1985–2015). Weighted mean standardised mean differences (SMD wm) were calculated using random-effects models.
Only studies with an active control group were included if these investigated the effects of resistance training in youth athletes (6–18 years) and tested at least one physical performance measure.
43 studies met the inclusion criteria. Our analyses revealed moderate effects of resistance training on muscle strength and vertical jump performance (SMD wm 0.8–1.09), and small effects on linear sprint, agility and sport-specific performance (SMD wm 0.58–0.75). Effects were moderated by sex and resistance training type. Independently computed dose–response relationships for resistance training parameters revealed that a training period of >23 weeks, 5 sets/exercise, 6–8 repetitions/set, a training intensity of 80–89% of 1 repetition maximum (RM), and 3–4 min rest between sets were most effective to improve muscle strength (SMD wm 2.09–3.40).
Resistance training is an effective method to enhance muscle strength and jump performance in youth athletes, moderated by sex and resistance training type. Dose–response relationships for key training parameters indicate that youth coaches should primarily implement resistance training programmes with fewer repetitions and higher intensities to improve physical performance measures of youth athletes.