Youth Strength Training: Is it OK?
By Donna Kostiew
Between the two of them, my daughters have been involved in eight different sports and dance teams throughout the years, and several of them have included a requirement to strength train. It was good for the girls, but I know that many parents in the same situation question whether strength training is a smart decision or if it will cause injuries and harm their children in the long run.
Positive Effects of Strength Training
Strength training can be a beneficial and positive experience for your child, as long as it is done correctly. Here are some of the benefits that your child may experience.
- Improves blood cholesterol
- Builds bone mass
- Reduces sprains and other injuries
- Improves mental health
- Increases endurance levels
- Improved athletic performance
The positive effects that strength training can have on your child are dependent on how well they listen and respond to a trainer. This isn’t as easy as handing them a piece of paper with a scaled-down version of how an adult would train.
Strength Training Tips for your Child
Keep these general principles in mind when deciding to allow your child to strength train.
- The right trainer - Start on the right foot with a professional, or someone who has experience with youth strength training. This can be a coach or a trainer … just make sure they have the experience or knowledge on how to create a safe and effective training program for children.
- Warm-ups and cool-downs – Make sure that your child is beginning each strength training session with a light aerobic activity and some gentle stretches. Stretching after each session is a good idea, too.
- Weight limit - As long as the weight is light enough, your child should be able to use adult-sized weights. And in most cases, weightlifting can be replaced with resistance training to achieve the same results.
- Proper form and technique – Don’t worry about how much weight your child is lifting; instead, just make sure that they are being taught proper form and technique during their sessions (this is why having a trainer is beneficial). Your child can always increase the weight or number of repetitions as they become more experienced.
- Supervision – Don’t let your child figure this out on their own. Adult supervision is a must, and supervision by someone who knows proper strength training techniques is an even better idea.
- Rest between workouts - Make sure your child rests their body at least one full day between strength training workouts. Two or three sessions a week are plenty for your child, especially if they are at regular sports practices as well.
It’s important to your child that they perform well in the activity of their choosing, and strength training can help them in that regard. And it’s also important to remember that the work you do now -- making sure they learn the correct skills and techniques from their trainer -- will stay with them and will continue to have positive, long-term implications on their health.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, seeyour local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Sunset Hills, Mo.