Measures of Muscular Strength in U.S. Children and Adolescents

In 2008, the federal government released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which provide guidance on the types and amounts of physical activities that provide substantial health benefits for Americans of all ages. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes and helps control the percentage of body fat in children and adolescents. This report provides the first nationally representative data on core, upper body, and lower body measures of muscle strength among U.S. children and adolescents aged 6–15 years by sex and age group.

Key Findings from the Report:

  • There were no significant differences by sex in core, lower, or upper body measures of strength for younger boys and girls. In contrast, adolescent boys had higher values than adolescent girls on all measures of strength.
  • Adolescent boys and girls had higher scores than younger boys and girls on the core and lower body strength measures and upper body strength as measured by the grip strength test.
  • Adolescent boys completed more modified pull-ups, a measure of upper body strength, than younger boys. There was no significant difference in the number of modified pull-ups completed between adolescent and younger girls.
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