Should My Kid Be Lifting Weights?
I always say that if I only knew then what I know now about strength training and sports science... It’s really is true though. The science of sports has come so far in the last 20 years. It’s actually shocking to think that the science of sport is so new. Really only in 1954 was the ACSM, Amercian Council on Sports Medicine, formed.
One of the things that I would have personally changed was getting in the gym at a younger age and yes, lifting weights at a younger age. Remember when the stigma around children doing strength training and lifting weights was, “it stunts growth?” Well, we now know based on solid research that children should be in the gym doing strength training. Check out this article on Children and Strength Training from the WSJ.The benefits start early, as early as 7 years old, and pay off big time throughout life in many ways.
Here are some of the benefits that we know of:
Increase in bone density
Less injury throughout sports career and later in life
More likely later in life to be active
Increase in strength and performance
Leaner bodies throughout life
Less cardiovascular disease
Lower incidence of obesity and type-2 diabetes
Longer life span
So, now that we are all talking the same language, how do we begin to create this common language amongst parents, children, and coaches that allows for safety, progress, and a positive experience in the gym for our kids?
Safety is the most important. Just because we know that strength training has many lifelong benefits for our kids doesn’t mean we just throw a barbell on a 6 year old and tell them to back squat. The main focus has to be on correct movement, good alignment and position, and an understanding between coach and child what is safe and what is not safe.
A slow and consistent progression is key. Start with body weight and balance activities, then lighter loads and slowly over time making appropriate load increases that accommodate position and mechanics.
Lastly, we always prioritize slow controlled movements with our younger athletes. This gives them a chance to stay connected to the movement and listen to our coaching cues. It’s a good idea to save the fast moving, get out of breath, high intensity type stuff for body weight activities.
Teaching our younger athletes good habits in the gym when learning to lift weights is important and cannot only help our children develop as athletes but it can help with life-long learning and a greater understanding of health and wellness.
Does your child have a safe and effective strength program? Our coaches can help!