Is Weight Training Good for Kids? - YMCA of Southwestern Indiana

Is Weight Training Good for Kids?

IT IS.

We use strength training of various methods to increase neuromuscular recruitment, increase bone density, increase range of motion and strengthen the tendons and joints of the body.

Don’t just take our word on whether weight training is good for kids, ask the medical experts. According to a 2018, MAYO Clinic statement

“Done properly, strength training can:

  • Increase your child’s muscle strength and endurance
  • Help protect your child’s muscles and joints from sports-related injuries
  • Help improve your child’s performance in nearly any sport, from dancing and figure skating to football and soccer
  • Develop proper techniques that your child can continue to use as he or she grows older

And when it comes to answering why strength training is good for kids the Mayo Clinic adds;

“Keep in mind that strength training isn’t only for athletes. Even if your child isn’t interested in sports, strength training can:

  • Strengthen your child’s bones
  • Help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Help your child maintain a healthy weight
  • Improve your child’s confidence and self-esteem

A New York Times article says:

“Kids, in other words, many of us believe, won’t get stronger by lifting weights and will probably hurt themselves. But a major new review just published in Pediatrics, together with a growing body of other scientific reports, suggest that, in fact, weight training can be not only safe for young people, it can also be beneficial, even essential.”

What is “strength training”?

Confusion starts with the concepts of strength training versus weight training. When people say strength training, they often imagine someone in a squat rack lifting barbells or maybe that weightlifter at the Olympics performing at the edge of human capacity.

Yes. Those can be strength training, but there’s a whole lot more.

Strength training is basically any exercise that relies on some form of resistance to stimulate your body to get stronger.

This includes:

  • Body weight
  • Elastic resistance bands
  • Sandbags
  • Medicine Balls
  • Free Weights
  • Resistance Machines
  • Barbells
  • Dumbells
  • Kettlebells

Why so many different things?  For one, to do it properly youth need a range of resistance levels. They need things that are light so they can learn to do it properly and start at the right level. They need things that are heavy so they can progress and stimulate the body to adapt.

Are bodyweight exercises safer for youth?

Many people look at bodyweight exercises as inherently safer than weight lifting. After all, you don’t have that extra weight to lift, right? Except you’re forgetting about the bodyweight. A coach using proper exercise selection and regressions can actually allow an athlete to lift less than bodyweight.

Have you ever watched young athletes struggle to do a push-up well? Their bodyweight is just too much for their strength level. It’s no different than lifting a barbell that’s too heavy.

When doing a push-up, an athlete is actually lifting about 64% of their body weight. For a 120 lb. young female, that would mean they are lifting 77 lbs.

Imagine if the athlete was laying on a bench press, struggling with 77 lbs. Its the same with a push-up. In this case, if the coach gave the athlete two twenty pound dumbbells or an empty bar, the weight would be significantly less.

Is weight training necessary?

This question is in the back of a lot of people’s minds. The reality is that the data, medical experts and decades of experience tell us it’s safe.

However, can you improve without lifting weights? Yes, you can.

But you can’t stimulate the body to adapt as efficiently or as much.

  • You don’t stimulate the neuromuscular system to recruit muscle and protect the joints and ligaments as well.
  • Athletes won’t improve the tendon tissue as well to reduce the risk of tendonitis and overuse injuries.
  • They won’t stimulate bone density during this crucial youth growth period and have the same life long positive effects.
  • You won’t build the same level of explosive strength
  • Young athletes won’t learn how to do the movements and be prepared if you start training with your team
  • You will miss out on the proven reduction in overall injury risk for athletes

How can  youth train the right way?

Here’s the key to safely strength training for young athletes; Do It Right.

That means learning the movement patterns and habits that lead to safe weight training.  Have a qualified coach teaching it.

Professional coaches know how to put youth into positions where they are safe to learn how to move. They use regressions of exercises to teach. These are simpler movement patterns that reinforce the right movement safely.  They lead to a progression in movement patterns or weight lifted.

Is Weight Training Good for Kids; YES

Strength training for youth is endorsed by all major medic and professional organizations. While the old myths of it stunting growth or being dangerous are slowly dying, it is understandable that some people are hesitant.

The benefits are abundant and necessary to prevent injury in athletes.  Weight training is an efficient and effective method for athletes. Do it right and reap the benefits.

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