July 2, 2014 by danfisher87
I often see child protege’s and videos of current athletes from when they were young training in their respective sports. Videos are constantly posted on FB and Twitter showing super talented kids, obviously it remains to be seen if they’ll be a Champion as an adult but I often wonder; “Is this what it takes to be an champion athlete in later life?”
The message I get from these posts seems to be: If you want your kids to excel in sports, you need to start them young. This can be specific skills of course such as kicking, punching, throwing, running and swinging but secondary to specifics should they also be working on improving strength, power, and speed as they too are key components of performing at the highest level in sport.
So should kids lift weights?
I find this to be a sensitive subject and it depends entirely on who you listen to. The fitness world seems largely divided with good arguments both for and against. Personally I’m pro-resistance training for juniors.
Many say that pre-pubescent children should not engage in weight-training as it may cause pre-mature bone fusion, leading to stunted growth which is an irreversible process.
It is also thought that, hormonally, and structurally, children’s physiologies are not suited the stresses of a weight program. All relevant and valid arguments, however this is dependent on what type of weight training the child does.
Are these concerns measured against a child doing the same high intensity, and if not how is a child’s weight lifting program measured and defined. Using maximal weights lifted to failure, and the addition of advanced training methods and high intensity strategies, would probably spell disaster for any child undergoing a weight-training regime.
According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), prepubescent children can safely engage in resistance training, with certain limitations. These bodies have issued guidelines on childhood strength training.
Below Is A Summary Of The Most Important Points:
1) For me this is probably the most important one. Proper form and technique must be maintained in all lifts. Children are more susceptible to injury, as their muscular systems are underdeveloped, never risk cheating or sacrificing technique for weight/rep targets.
2) Seems fairly obvious but very important too. Children should be supervised at all times during their weight-training sessions. Special care must be taken to avoid overstraining injuries, which children may be more predisposed to as they’re still growing and their recovery levels and energy systems won’t be as strong as an adults. Keep the training routine varied to prevent continued stress on any particular part of the body. This will also make it more stimulating for the child.
3) Children should avoid maximal or near-maximal lifts. Children should work at a resistance that will allow them to perform no fewer than 10 repetitions. So emphasise lighter weight and more reps.
4) Weight-training should be only a small percentage of a child’s exercise regime. (Around 30%) Actually playing sports and doing movement drills should also feature heavily and make up a large part of their training.
5) Children should be old and mature enough to respond to advice, and must follow instructions for their coaches/trainers.
6) Explosive lifts, such as the clean & jerk, should be avoided. These can place a tremendous strain on vulnerable parts of the body, such as the spinal and neck regions, and for this reason are deemed dangerous for children. It’s also difficult to get form right on these for anyone especially children as their body mechanics and understanding isn’t as developed as an adults.