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The trainability of children and adolescents remains an important, but contentious, issue in paediatric exercise science. In particular, it has been suggested that the periods of naturally occurring accelerated adaptation during puberty reflect ‘golden periods’ or ‘windows of opportunity’ where the effects of training are especially pronounced. The ‘trigger hypothesis’ or maturational threshold are prominent examples of this theory and dictate that training-induced gains during childhood and adolescence will be either minimal or not apparent until the trigger provided by the onset of puberty is reached.
This debate regarding the trainability of children has had a significant impact on the design of training programmes for children and adolescents by coaches and researchers. Windows of optimal trainability represent a cornerstone of many long-term athlete development models that have been widely adopted by UK National Governing Bodies. An understanding of the development of fitness during childhood and adolescence is not just applicable to a sporting context however, such an understanding also has important implications for the promotion of health and well-being throughout childhood and adolescence. This webinar will: 1) Provide an overview of the current evidence regarding the trainability of aerobic fitness, strength and speed in children and adolescents; 2) Evaluate the strength of this evidence base and 3) Provide recommendations for researchers and practitioners.