For better or worse, children today play sports at a much different level than in previous generations. They start much younger and the level of competition is much higher. This has led some parents and coaches to incorporate strength training programs for children, however many wonder at what age or if this is appropriate or safe.
The answer is, if done properly, strength training can be safe and offer many benefits for young athletes. Strength training is even a good idea for kids who simply want to look and feel better. In fact, strength training might put your child on a lifetime path to better health and fitness.
There is a distinction between strength training and lifting weights, and experts don’t want parents to be confused. According to the Mayo Clinic , “Weightlifting can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and areas of cartilage that haven’t yet turned to bone (growth plates) — especially when proper technique is sacrificed in favor of lifting larger amounts of weight.” This type of training should not begin until bones are fully-matured, which is after the onset of puberty.
Instead, children should focus on strength training that incorporates using their own body weight to get stronger, by doing push-ups, chin-ups, or planks. Another type of training that can increase not only strength, but also coordination is the use of resistance bands and tubes. Children can begin this type of training when they become interested in sports, usually between ages six and eight.
Strength training can offer children many benefits, including:
- Increasing muscle strength and endurance
- Protecting muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
- Improving performance
- Developing proper techniques that can continue into adulthood
Even if your child isn’t an athlete, strength training can help promote a healthy lifestyle and bolster self-esteem.
Before having your child begin a strength program, make sure it is under the supervision of a trained professional experienced in youth training. A good program should not be too intense, include a proper warm-up and cool-down periods, and emphasize technique over results. Lastly, because they are kids, your child’s program should incorporate an element of fun.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.