The Elite Young Athlete

Editor(s): Armstrong N. (Exeter) 
McManus A.M. (Hong Kong) 
Table of Contents
Vol. 56, 2011
Section title: Paper

Endurance Training and Elite Young Athletes

Armstrong N. · Barker A.R.
To view the fulltext, log in and/or choose pay-per-view option

Individual Users: Register with Karger Login Information

Please create your User ID & Password

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.

To view the fulltext, please log in

To view the pdf, please log in


Endurance training consists of a structured exercise programme that is sustained for a sufficient length of time with sufficient intensity and frequency to induce an improvement in aerobic fitness. Elite young athletes generally have higher peak oxygen uptakes (peak VO2) than their untrained peers largely due to their greater maximal stroke volumes. Trained young athletes have faster VO2 kinetic responses to step changes in exercise intensity but whether this is due to enhanced oxygen delivery or increased oxygen utilization by the muscles remains to be explored. Blood lactate accumulation in young athletes during submaximal exercise is lower than in untrained youth and this appears to be due to enhanced oxidative function in the active muscles. No well-designed, longitudinal endurance training studies of elite young athletes have been published. Even in the general paediatric population peak VO2 is the only component of aerobic fitness on which there are sufficient data to examine dose-response effects of endurance training. The existence of a maturational threshold below which children are not trainable remains to be proven. The magnitude of training responses is independent of sex. Pre-training peak VO2 has a moderate but significant inverse relationship with post-training peak VO2 which suggests that elite young athletes are likely to experience smaller increases in peak VO2 with further endurance training than untrained youth. Empirical evidence strongly indicates that both trained and untrained young people can benefit from endurance training but the relative intensity of exercise required for optimum benefits is higher than that recommended for adults.

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


  1. Armstrong N, Welsman J: Assessment and interpretation of aerobic fitness in children and adolescents. Exerc Sports Sci Rev 1994;22:435-476
  2. Armstrong N, Welsman JR: Aerobic fitness: what are we measuring? in. Tomkinson GR, Olds TS: Pediatric Fitness Basel, Karger, 2007;5-25
  3. Armstrong N, Barker AR: Oxygen uptake kinetics in children and adolescents: a review. Pediatr Exerc Sci 2009;21:130-147
  4. Armstrong N, Welsman JR: Aerobic fitness. Armstrong N, Van Mechelen W: Paediatric Exercise Science and Medicine 2Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008;97-108
  5. Robinson S: Experimental studies of physical fitness in relation to age. Arbeitsphysiologie 1938;10:251-323
  6. Astrand PO: Experimental Studies of Physical Working Capacity in Relation to Sex and Age. Copenhagen, Munksgaard, 1952;
  7. Armstrong N, McManus AM, Welsman JR: Aerobic fitness. Armstrong N, Van Mechelen W: Paediatric Exercise Science and Medicine 2Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008;269-282
  8. Welsman JR, Armstrong N: Statistical techniques for interpreting body size-related exercise performance during growth. Pediatr Exerc Sci 2000;12:112-127
  9. Baxter-Jones A, Goldstein H, Helms P: The development of aerobic power in young athletes. J Appl Physiol 1993;75:1160-1167
  10. Armstrong N, Welsman JR: Peak oxygen uptake in relation to growth and maturation in 11-17 year old humans. Eur J of Appl Physiol 2001;85:546-551
  11. Rowland TW, Unnithan VB, MacFarlane NG, Gibson NG, Paton JY: Clinical manifestations of the athlete's heart in prepubertal male runners. Int J Sports Med 1994;15:515-519
  12. Mayers N, Gutin B: Physiological characteristics of elite prepubertal cross-country runners. Med Sci Sports 1979;11:172-176
  13. van Huss WD, Evans SA, Kurowski T, Anderson DJ, Allen R, Stephens K: Physiological characteristics of male and female age-group runners. Brown EW, Branta CF: Competitive Sports for Children and Youth Champaign, Human Kinetics, 1988;143-158
  14. Nottin S, Vinet A, Stecken F, N'Guyen ID, Ounissi F, Lecoq AM, Obert P: Central and peripheral cardiovascular adaptations to exercise in endurance-trained children. Acta Physiol Scand 2002;175:85-92
  15. Rowland TW, Wehnert M, Miller K: Cardiac responses to exercise in competitive child cyclists. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2000;32:747-752
  16. Unnithan VB, Rowland TW, Cable NT, Raine N: Cardiac responses in elite male junior cyclists. Armstrong N, Kirby BJ, Welsman JR: Children and Exercise London, Spon, 1997;501-506
  17. Cunningham DA, Enyon RB: The working capacity of young competitive swimmers, 10-16 years of age. Med Sci Sports 1973;5:227-231
  18. Holmer I: Oxygen uptake during swimming in man. J Appl Physiol 1980;33:502-509
  19. Nomura T: Maximal oxygen uptake of age group swimmers. Swim Tech 1979;15:105-109
  20. Wells CL, Scrutton EW, Archibald LD, Cooke WP, De La Mothe JW: Physical working capacity and maximal oxygen uptake of teenaged athletes. Med Sci Sports 1973;5:232-238
  21. Armstrong N, Davies B: An ergometric analysis of age group swimmers. Br J Sports Med 1981;15:20-26
  22. Mahon AD: Aerobic training. Armstrong N, Van Mechelen W: Paediatric Exercise Science and Medicine 2Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008;513-529
  23. Helgerud J, Engen LC, Wisloff U, Hoff J: Aerobic endurance training improves soccer performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001;33:1925-1931
  24. Armstrong N, Welsman J: Young People and Physical Activity. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997;
  25. Bar-Or O: Trainability of the prepubescent child. Phys Sports Med 1989;17:65-82
  26. Warburton DER, Nettlefold L, McGuire KA, Bredin SSD: Cardiovascular function. Armstrong N, Van Mechelen W: Paediatric Exercise Science and Medicine 2Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2008;77-96
  27. Raven PB, Drinkwater BL, Horvath SM: Cardiovascular responses of young female track athletes during exercise. Med Sci Sports 1973;4:205-209
  28. Rowland TW, Unnithan V, Fernhall B, Baynard T, Lange C: Left ventricular responses to dynamic exercise in young cyclists. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002;34:637-642
  29. Eriksson BO, Koch G: Effect of physical training on hemodynamic response during submaximal and maximal exercise in 11-13-year-old boys. Acta Physiol Scand 1973;87:27-39
  30. Obert P, Mandigout S, Nottin S, Vinet A, N'Guyen D, Lecoq A-M: Cardiovascular responses to endurance training in children: effect of gender. Eur J Clin Invest 2003;33:199:208
  31. Telford RD, McDonald IG, Ellis LB, Chennells MHD, Sandstrom ER, Fuller PJ: Echocardiographic dimensions in trained and untrained 12-year-old boys and girls. J Sport Sci 1988;6:49-57
  32. Obert P, Stecken F, Courteix D, Lecoq AM, Guenon P: Effect of long-term intensive endurance training on left ventricular structure and diastolic function in prepubertal children. Int J Sports Med 1998;19:149-154
  33. Geenen DL, Gilliam TB, Crowley D, Moorehead-Steffans C, Rosenthal A: Echocardiographic measures in 6- to 7-year-old children after an 8-month exercise program. Am J Cardiol 1982;49:1990-1995
  34. George KP, Gates PE, Tolfrey K: Impact of aerobic training upon left ventricular morphology and function in pre-pubescent children. Ergonomics 2005;48:1378-1389
  35. Oyen E-M, Scuster S, Brode PE: Dynamic exercise echocardiography of the left ventricle in physically trained children compared to untrained healthy children. Int J Cardiol 1990;29:29-33
  36. Barstow TJ, Schuermann B: VO2 kinetics effects of maturation and aging. Jones AM, Poole DC: Oxygen Uptake Kinetics in Sport, Exercise and Medicine London, Routledge, 2004;331-352
  37. Fawkner SG, Armstrong N: Oxygen uptake kinetic response to exercise in children. Sports Med 2003;33:651-669
  38. Fawkner SG, Armstrong N, Potter CR, Welsman JR: Oxygen uptake kinetics in children and adults after the onset of moderate intensity exercise. J Sports Sci 2002;20:319-326
  39. Fawkner SG, Armstrong N: Longitudinal changes in the kinetic response to heavy intensity exercise. J Appl Physiol 2004;97:460-466
  40. Fawkner SG, Armstrong N: Sex differences in the oxygen uptake kinetic response to heavy intensity exercise in prepubertal children. Eur J Appl Physiol 2004;93:210-216
  41. Breese BC, Williams CA, Barker AR, Welsman JR, Fawkner SG, Armstrong N: Longitudinal changes in the oxygen uptake response to heavy intensity exercise in 14-16 year old boys. Pediatr Exerc Sci 2010;22:314-325
  42. Jones AM, Koppo K: Effect of training on VO2 kinetics and performance. Jones AM, Poole DC: Oxygen Uptake Kinetics in Sport, Exercise and Medicine London, Routledge, 2004;373-398
  43. Obert P, Cleuziou C, Candau R, Courteix D, Lecoq A-M, Guenon P: The slow component of oxygen uptake kinetics during high-intensity exercise in trained and untrained prepubertal children. Int J Sports Med 2000;21:31-36
  44. Cleuzoiu C, Lecoq AM, Candau R, Courteix D, Guenon P, Obert P: Kinetics of oxygen uptake at the onset of moderate and heavy exercise in trained and untrained prepubertal children. Sci Sports 2002;17:291-296
  45. Winlove MA, Jones AM, Welsman JR: Influence of training status and exercise modality on pulmonary oxygen uptake kinetics in pre-pubertal girls. Eur J Appl Physiol 2010;108:1169-1179
  46. Marwood S, Roche D, Rowland TW, Garrard M, Unnithan VB: Faster pulmonary oxygen uptake kinetics in trained versus untrained male adolescents. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2010;42:127-134
  47. Breese BC, Barker AR, Armstrong N, Williams CA: Effect of pedal rate on pulmonary oxygen uptake kinetics during high intensity cycling in adolescent boys. Baquet G, Berthoin S: Children and Exercise XXV London, Routledge, 2010;131-134
  48. MacPhee SL, Shoemaker JK, Paterson DH, Kowalchuk JM: Kinetics of oxygen uptake, leg blood flow, and muscle deoxygenation are slowed in the upper compared with lower region of the moderate-intensity domain. J Appl Physiol 2005;99:1822-1834
  49. Pfitzinger P, Freedson P: Blood lactate responses to exercise in children. 2. Lactate threshold. Pediatr Exerc Sci 1997;9:299-307
  50. Rusko H, Rahkila P, Karvinen E: Anaerobic threshold, skeletal muscle enzymes and fiber composition in young female cross-country skiers. Acta Physiol Scand 1980;108:263-268
  51. Fernhall B, Kohrt W, Burkett LN, Walters S: Relationship between the lactate threshold and cross-country run performance in high school male and female runners. Pediatr Exerc Sci 1996;8:37-47
  52. Rotstein A, Dotan R, Bar-Or O, Tenebaum G: Effect of training on anaerobic threshold, maximal aerobic power, and anaerobic performance of preadolescent boys. Int J Sports Med 1986;7:281-286
  53. Danis A, Kyriazis Y, Klisssouras V: The effect of training in male prepubertal and pubertal monozygotic twins. Eur J Appl Physiol 2003;89:309-318
  54. Massicote DR, Macnab RBJ: Cardiorespiratory adaptations to training at specific intensities in children. Med Sci Sports 1974;6:242-246
  55. Eriksson BO, Gollnick PD, Saltin B: Muscle metabolism and enzyme activities after training in boys 11-13 years old. Acta Physiol Scand 1973;87:485-497
  56. Ekblom B: Effect of physical training in adolescent boys. J Appl Physiol 1969;27:350-355
  57. Gutin B, Mayers N, Levy JA, Herman MV: Physiological and echocardiographic studies of age-group runners. Brown EW, Branta CF: Competitive Sports for Children and Youth Champaign, Human Kinetics, 1988;117-128
  58. McManus AM, Cheung CH, Leung MP, Yung TC, Macfarlane DJ: Improving aerobic power in primary school boys: a comparison of continuous and interval training. Int J Sports Med 2005;26:781-786
  59. Becker DM, Vaccaro P: Anaerobic threshold alterations caused by endurance training in children. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1983;23:445-449
  60. Mogensen M, Bagger M, Pedersen PK, Fernstrom M, Sahlin K: Cycling efficiency in humans is related to low UCP3 content and to type 1 fibres but not to mitochondrial efficiency. J Physiol 2006;571:669-681
  61. Holloszy JO: Biochemical adaptations in muscle-effects of exercise on mitochondrial oxygen uptake and respiratory enzyme activity in skeletal muscle. J Biol Chem 1967;242:2278-2282
  62. Gatch W, Byrd AW: Endurance training and cardiovascular function in 9-and 10-year-old boys. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1979;60:574-577
  63. Mandigout S, Lecoq A-M, Coutreix D, Guenon P, Obert P: Effect of gender in response to an aerobic training programme in prepubertal children Acta Paediatr. 2001;90:9-15
  64. Rowland TW, Boyajian A: Aerobic response to aerobic exercise training in children. Pediatr 1995;96:654-658
  65. Baquet G, Berthoin S, Dupont G, Blondel N, Fabre C, Van Praagh E: Effects of high intensity intermittent training on peak VO2 in prepubertal children. Int J Sports Med 2002;23:439-444
  66. Burkett LN, Fernhall B, Walters SC: Physiological effects of distance running training on teenage females. Res Q Exerc Sport 1985;56:215-220
  67. Lussier L, Buskirk ER: Effects of an endurance training regime on assessment of work capacity in pre-pubertal children. Ann NY Acad Sci 1977;30:734-747
  68. Gilliam TB, Freedson P: Effects of a 12 week school physical fitness program on peak VO2, body composition and blood lipids in 7 to 9 year old children. Int J Sports Med 1980;1:73-78
  69. Savage MP, Petratis M, Thomson WH, Berg K, Smith JL, Sady SP: Exercise training effects on serum lipids of prepubescent boys and adult men. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1986;18:197-204
  70. McManus AM, Armstrong N, Williams CA: Effect of training on the aerobic power and anaerobic performance of prepubertal girls. Acta Paediatr 1997;86:456-459
  71. Welsman JR, Armstrong N, Withers S: Responses of young girls to two modes of aerobic training. Br J Sports Med 1997;31:139-142
  72. Tolfrey K, Campbell IG, Batterham AM: Aerobic trainability of pre-pubertal boys and girls. Pediatr Exerc Sci 1998;10:248-263
  73. Williams CA, Armstrong N, Powell J: Aerobic responses of pre-pubertal boys to two modes of training. Br J Sports Med 2000;34:168-173
  74. Gamelin F-X, Bacquet G, Berthoin S, Thevenet D, Nourry C, Nottin S, Bosquet L: Effect of high intensity intermittent training on heart rate variability in prepubescent children. Eur J Appl Physiol 2009;105:731-738
  75. Obert P, Nottin S, Bacquet G, Thevenet D, Gamelin F-X, Berthoin S: Two months of endurance training does not alter diastolic function evaluated by TDI in 9- to 11 -year-old boys and girls. Br] Sports Med 2009;43:132-135
  76. Stewart KJ, Gutin B: Effects of physical training on cardiorespiratory fitness in children. Res Q 1976;47:110-120
  77. Mahon AD, Vaccaro P: Ventilatory threshold and VO2 changes in children following endurance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1989;21:425-431
  78. Rowland TW, Martel L, Vanderburgh P, Manos T, Charkoudian N: The influence of short-term aerobic training on blood lipids in healthy 10-12 year old children. Int J Sports Med 1996;17:487-492
  79. Stoedefalke K, Armstrong N, Kirby BJ, Welsman JR: Effect of training on peak oxygen uptake and blood lipids in 13- to 14-year old girls. Acta Paediatr 2000;89:1290-1294
  80. Weber G, Kartodihardjo W, Klissouras V: Growth and physical training with reference to heredity. J Appl Physiol 1976;40:211-215
  81. Stransky AW, Mickelson RJ, van Fleet C, Davis R: Effects of a swimming training regime on hematological, cardiorespiratory and body composition changes in young females. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1979;19:347-354
  82. Kobashyi K, Kitamura K, Miura M, Sodeyama H, Murase Y, Miyashita M: Aerobic power as related to body growth and training in Japanese boys: a longitudinal study. J Appl Physiol 1978;44:666-672
  83. Docherty D: Wenger HA: Collis ML: Effects of resistance training on aerobic and anaerobic power in young boys. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987;19:389-392
  84. Weltman A, Janney C, Rians CB, Strand K, Berg B, Tippett S, Wise J, Cahill BR, Katch FI: The effects of hydraulic resistance strength training in pre-pubertal males Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1986;18:629-638
  85. Obert P, Courteix D, Lecoq A-M, Guenon P: Effect of long-term intense swimming training on the upper body peak oxygen uptake of pre-pubertal girls. Eur J Appl Physiol 1996;73:136-143
  86. Billat V, Koralsztein JP: Significance of the velocity at VO2 max and time to exhaustion at this velocity. Sports Med 1996;22:90-108
  87. Bouchard C, Dionne FT, Simoneau JA, Boulay MR: Genetics of aerobic and anaerobic performances. Exerc Sports Sci Rev 1992;20:27-58
  88. Ranikinen T, Bray MS, Hagberg JM, Peruse L, Roth SM, Wolfarth B, Bouchard C: The human gene map for performance and health-related fitness phenotypes: the 2005 update. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2006;38:1863-1888
  89. Rivera MA, Dionne FT, Simoneau JA, Perusse L, Chagnon M, Chagnon Y, Gagnon J, Leon AS, Rao DC, Skinner JS, Wilmore JF, Bouchard C: Muscle-specific creatine kinase gene polymorphism and VO2 max in the HERITAGE Family Study. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1997;23:1311-1317
  90. Rivera MA, Perusse L, Simoneau JA, Gagnon J, Dionne FT, Leon AS, Skinner JS, Wilmore JH, Province M, Rao DC, Bouchard C: Linkage between a specific muscle CK gene marker and VO2 max in the HERITAGE Family Study. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1999;31:698-701
  91. Bouchard C, Rankinen T: Individual differences in response to regular physical activity. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001;33:S446-S451
  92. Rowell LB: Human Cardiovascular Control. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1993;
  93. Pate RR, Ward DS: Endurance exercise trainability in children and youth. Grana WA, Lombardo JA, Sharkey BJ, Stone EJ: Advances in Sport Medicine and Fitness Chicago, Year Book Medical Publishers, 1990;37-55
  94. Bacquet G, Van Praagh E, Berthoin S: Endurance training and endurance fitness in young people. Sports Med 2003;33:1127-1143
  95. Krahenbuhl GS, Skinner JS, Kohrt WM: Developmental aspects of maximal aerobic power in children. Exerc Sports Sci Rev 1985;13:502-538
  96. Rowland TW: Children's Exercise Physiology. Champaign, Human Kinetics, 2005;
  97. Armstrong N, Welsman JR: Patterns of physical activity in European children with reference to methods of assessment. Sports Med 2006;36:1067-1086
  98. Armstrong N, Fawkner SG: Aerobic fitness. Armstrong N: Paediatric Exercise Physiology Edinburgh, Churchill-Livingstone, 2006;161-188
  99. Pfeiffer KA, Lobelo F, Ward DS, Pate RR: Endurance trainability of children and youth. Hebestreit H, Bar-Or O: The Young Athlete Oxford, Blackwell, 2007;84-95
  100. Le Mura LM, von Dullivard SP, Carlonas R, Andreacci J: Can exercise training improve maximal aerobic power (VO2 max) in children: a meta-analytic review. J Exerc Physiol 1999;2:1-22
  101. Katch VL: Physical conditioning of children. J Adolesc Health 1983;3:241-246
  102. Rowland TW: The ‘trigger hypothesis’ for aerobic trainability: a 14-year follow-up. Pediatr Exerc Sci 1997;9:1-9
  103. Eisenman PA, Golding LA: Comparison of effects of training on VO2 max in girls and young women. Med Sci Sports 1975;7:136-138
  104. Mountjoy M, Armstrong N, Bizzini L, Blimkie C, Evans J, Gerrard D, Hangen J, Knoll K, Micheli L, Sangenis P, Van Mechelen W: IOC consensus statement: ‘training the elite child athlete’. Clin J Sports Med 2008;18:122-123

Pay-per-View Options
Direct payment This item at the regular price: USD 38.00
Payment from account With a Karger Pay-per-View account (down payment USD 150) you profit from a special rate for this and other single items.
This item at the discounted price: USD 26.50