Just as a lot of women are afraid strength training and lifting weights will make them bulky, many adults often fear that strength training and lifting weights is unsafe for kids. There are plenty of myths and misunderstandings about strength training for kids and I am sure you can think of a few off the top of your head, but I think it is important to set the record straight. The truth is that strength training and lifting weights is safe and beneficial for kids- WHEN IT IS DONE THE RIGHT WAY.
Strength training is the practice of using free weights, weight machines, rubber resistance bands, and even one’s body weight to build muscle. Strength training has been shown to build muscle, strengthen joints, and increase bone density in not only adults but kids. With a properly designed and supervised training program, strength training can improve endurance, total fitness level and sports performance, even helping in preventing injuries and speeding up recovery.
The goal of strength training is not to bulk up and should not be confused with the sports of weightlifting, bodybuilding, and powerlifting. The goal of strength training for kids is to aid in a total fitness program. Research suggests kids who are stronger and more conditioned perform better in school and are less likely to engage in unhealthy activities. Strength training has also been linked to improve athletic performance. Many of the exercises kids should partake in while strength training should mimic basic movement patterns found in everyday life as well as the sports they partake in.
Think about it, you have a son or daughter who is smaller than other kids in height or size or even both and because of this difference in size, they get pushed off the ball easily in soccer, get boxed out easier in basketball, or get knocked off balance at any hint of contact. These differences in body types and growth rates are not something we can control due to each one of us having physiological differences, but we can help make kids more balanced, stronger, and coordinated through proper strength training.
Generally speaking, if a kid is ready to participate in organized sports or activities and show some interest, it is usually safe to start strength training under proper supervision. Kid’s strength-training programs should not just be a scaled down version of an adult’s program, but should be designed to teach kids proper techniques, safety precautions, proper use of equipment, and aid in daily movement patterns found in everyday life and the sports they partake in. Specific exercise should be learned without resistance and once proper technique is mastered, resistance can be added. In general as kids get older and stronger, they can gradually increase the amount of resistance they use but if you or your kid is unsure, a trained professional can help you and your child determine what the appropriate weight may be.
It is important to remember that strength training and lifting weights is one part of a total fitness program and should not detour your son or daughter away from playing the sports they want to play. Strength training and lifting weights can aid in keeping your kids healthy and fit and playing a vital role is sports performance. Things to keep in mind when having kids strength train and lift weights is they should learn the proper techniques, start with no resistance and then progress in resistance once proper technique is mastered, focus on major muscle groups of the body, use safety precautions and proper supervision, and above all have fun.