Resistance Training For Children

Should you let your kid lift weights? I guarantee you have heard of all the potential 'dangers' related to this right?  

However, there has never been any scientific evidence that youth weight training is harmful to the normal growth and development process. Your child can in fact perform barbell squats without fear of stunted growth!

Weight training is not even listed in the top 10 most prevalent injuries for children. According to some of the most updated statistics from Stanford Children's Health the highest rates of injury occur in sports that involve contact and collisions. Youth football, basketball, baseball and softball, and soccer rank as some of the highest injury prone sports for youth sports. More than 775,000 children, ages 14 and younger, are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year. Most of the injuries occurred as a result of falls, being struck by an object, collisions, and overexertion. Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 40 percent of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals. More than 3.5 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year. Guess what? Resistance training isn’t in the list at all. This is often attributed to good coaching and qualified supervision.

Resistance training for kids is extremely beneficial and safe. I believe that the sooner your child has a barbell in their hand the better. Especially with the issues of self-confidence climbing and child obesity rates rising. Why not give them something that teaches discipline, and boost a positive self-image? 

My father put weights in my hand at a young age. Around the age of 8 I started to train with him in the garage. We had a bench press that was duck taped so it wouldn’t fall apart and a squat rack. It was one of the best gifts he ever gave me. I can't thank him enough for introducing me to resistance training because it taught me so many valuable lessons.

Here are the reasons why I believe your child should be in a resistance training program. 

Shape a Positive Self-Image

The most significant basic developmental task for children is developing self-worth. If they don't master self-worth, they become self-absorbed instead of self-aware. Confidence makes social life a lot smoother. It also makes it a lot safer. Studies show that self-confidence is one of the single best shields against bullying. A child’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation is important. This is known as self-efficacy. If it isn’t built up then they may have less confidence in their ability to stand up for themselves.

Yes, I understand, your child might be the confident kid. They may even be the superstar. But kids who aren't socially awkward suffer silently from a distorted body image that's probably a lot worse. The social pressure for them to be the best or the prettiest could leave him or her constantly hungry for some internal fulfillment they can't define. 

Weightlifting, however, can give adolescents a say in their physical destiny and appearance. With a resistance training program they play an integral role in developing self-worth. The ownership, investment, and discipline it takes to accomplish that change in physical appearance can often help build the other parts of the self-worth equation as well.

Create an Environment for a Healthier Kid and Strong Family Bonds

Lifting makes kids health and food conscious. Food takes on a whole new dimension when you lift. It becomes fuel, and sustenance. It becomes purposeful, and that purpose is building and maintaining muscle, daily energy, and recovery. They will also learn balance. Kids should know how to enjoy some of their favorite sugar filled foods but not at the expense of pushing aside nutritiously dense foods. 

It's easy to bond with kids during infancy. But most parents aren't as good in maintaining these bonds when kids get older and presumably more complex. My father and I bonded during our weight training sessions. It was something I looked forward to. Weightlifting gives you something to share and a way to acknowledge your kid's effort and achievements, along with their weaknesses. They will learn life isn’t about wins, losses, or participation awards. They will learn that you get out what you put in.

If you are a parent of a young child and considering a weight-training program, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is your child mature enough to accept coaching instructions?
2. Does the training program emphasize lifting technique and not the amount of weight lifted
3. Is there a qualified coach to supervise my child?
4. Does the coach understand how to monitor the training program and vary the intensity of lifting to avoid over-training and injuries?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, a weight-training program can be implemented with your child regardless of age.

Weight training is safe for children of all ages to perform as long as they are adequately supervised and coached. Consult the child’s primary physician before starting any new physical training program. (I have to say that but science is science)