Children and Strength Training

2 Jul

Myth #1 “Strength Training Will Stunt My Child’s Growth”
A common misconception concerning kids and strength training is: “Lifting weights will stunt their growth”. This, however, is completely opposite to the facts. The fact is that a well planned and supervised youth strength training program can be very beneficial for muscular development, neuromuscular coordination, and improved endurance, both cardiovascular and muscular. Additionally, strength training can provide numerous mental improvements.(Faigenbaum et al)

Myth #2 “Weight Training is Only for Athletes!”
Early exposure to a properly coached and structured weight training program can engrain a sense of belonging and self worth, no matter what a child’s skill level or athletic drive. There is always room for success in a training program.  Some children may grow stronger, get faster, become more flexible, or just feel better. The fact is that every child can grow on its own terms in a training setting. The harsh reality of sports is that some may not make the team, or they get picked last for a pickup game of basketball; this leaves kids with a negative view that can exclude them from activity for a lifetime. This lack of physical activity due to a negative early view of exercise can result in multiple issues such as, adult onset diabetes (type II) and heart disease.  Every child has the ability to expand his or her physical skills and have a positive self-view from participation in a supervised exercise program. The earlier children are exposed to exercise, the better their chances are for an active and healthy lifestyle in the future.

Myth #3 “Kids just get hurt lifting weights”
The fact is that most youth injuries occur in training when children are left unsupervised. (Kilgore). Bad lifting technique, too much weight, and overuse injuries are all preventable in a supervised and well planned youth program. The actual number of weight training* and weightlifting** related injuries are much less than any common sport played by our nations youth. For every 100 hours of training time, weightlifting has a far superior number than most sports.

Table from USAW.
Sport                                     Injuries/100 hours
Soccer (school age)                6.20
UK Rugby                                1.92
USA Basketball                      0.03
UK Cross Country                 0.37
Squash                                     0.10
US Football                            0.10
Badminton                             0.05
USA Gymnastics                   0.044
USA Powerlifting                  0.0027
USA Volleyball                      0.0013
USA Tennis                           0.001
*Weight Training                 0.0035 (85,733 hrs)
**WeighLifting                     0.0017 (168,551 hrs)

Fact– A well planned resistance training program for youth and adolescents can be a very safe and effective measure to ensure a healthy and positive approach to fitness that will last a lifetime.

References:
1.)Misconceptions About Training Youth Knowledge To Share With Parents And Administrator
by Lon Kilgore PhD

2.) USAW Sports Performance Coach guide

3.) http://lylemichelimd.com/articles/refereed/85a.pdf.  Avery D. Faigenbaum, etal

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