CYCLING: What can a young cyclist do at training? (2)

A child is not made for some kind of physical demands?

Weineck hypothesized that lactic function could be hazardous to the health of the developing child and that the recycling capacity for lactate did not work.

My university teachers explained to me that exercize over the lactic threshold were, or dangerous, or unnecessary before puberty. It was understood that the elements permitting the operation of anaerobic glycolysis were not mature. So as a young coach, I put this part of the preparation aside.

But with the desire to try to gain time, with the fact that determining the tipping point of puberty is not easy to define and with the observation of young athletes in competition, I integrated nevertheless HIT session. Indeed, when we are watching children playing football, hockey, cycling in competition, nobody is offended by the physical commitment of those small competitors.

I just found a short article by Claire Thomas-Junius, Professor at the Sport Science University of Evry and I realize that the shortcuts are strong in the training of young athletes.

To summarize this article and go further in understanding cycling in young categories, here are some interesting points:

  • the glycogen musculary concentration at rest is lower for children that for adults but don’t limit the lactic anaerobic functioning (Eriksson and Saltin, 1974): are the measurements related to the athlete's body weight or are they absolute measures?
  • the blood lactate maximum concentration is lower for the child after a maximal exercise: for what reasons? Does the child produce less lactate or recycle quickly?
  • By different measures, Tonson and coll. showed that the anaerobic function was functional in children. In the same way, is it a measure of body weight or absolute?
  • during sprint exercize before puberty, Ratel et al. observe a very low performance drift and that recovery times are shorter compared to adults. However, the use of phospho-creatine is lower for children.
  • Efforts are also felt easier by children than by adults (Ratel et al 2004).

To read the original article:, it’s in French).

Sports, the beliefs and traditions we have in training are quickly demolished by simple observations of the energetic function of the young athlete. In practice, the child’s muscle is almost like an adult but is it appropriate to:

  • Do long and slow training like in marathon preparation when you are 10 years old? Or 400, 600 or 800m series?
  • Do strength exercises with heavy loads?
  • To swim sessions with 30, 40 or 50 x 100yrds?
  • To ride 100kms at 10 years?

We are already thinking about the long-term development of the athlete where we try to develop physically or technically the young athlete without reaching the reservoir of motivation.

Frederic HURLIN -

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