Strength Training for Kids – Good or Bad?

Tom writing for Urban Remedy;
http://urbanremedy.asia/

Strength training provides many benefits for children and adolescents in a physical and physiological capacity however it may also have a profound effect on their health later on in life as well, and here’s why…

Regular physical activity is essential for normal growth and development and kids should be encouraged to engage in 60 minutes of vigorous activity every day. However, most parents shy away from allowing their child to participate in strength training activities. This is normally down to a belief that performing this type of work can be dangerous for their growth and development or simply a lack of appropriate venue and instructors for them to go.

Research over the last decade has repeatedly suggested that strength training can have a unique benefit for kids when appropriately supervised. Similar to adults, a structured strength training program can have favourable effects on a child’s musculoskeletal strength, body composition, cardiovascular risk factors and psycho-social wellbeing.

Between the ages of 11-16 is an ideal time to develop musculoskeletal strength, this will have a positive effect on a child’s ability to perform life’s everyday activities with greater energy and will increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports related injury. There is a growing trend in sport related injuries amongst young athletes, this can be caused by muscular imbalances, poor conditioning and overtraining (doing too much too soon). A common cause of injury amongst young athletes is early specialisation. This is where a child performs a high amount of training in one particular sport, which often leads to overuse injuries due to the repetitive stress on the body. Young athletes should be encouraged to take part in a variety of sports alongside an appropriate strength training program in order to combat repetitive strain and overuse injuries.

It is important to stress here that strength training isn’t only important for kids that participate in sport. One of the most overlooked benefits is on a child’s physiological wellbeing. Research has suggested the health and body image benefits that come with strength training have improved the self confidence and physiological health with young boys and girls alongside the social skills that are developed when training in a group setting. Research has also found that physical activity habits that are established in early life tend to carry over in to adulthood. An important part of this is developing what we call fundamental movement skills (FMS) such as jumping, hopping, squatting, pressing, balance, etc. Research has also shown that children who develop these skills at a young age are less likely to be sedentary during adulthood. Furthermore, children who do not develop these skills will find it hard to learn these requisite movements, which allows them to participate in physical activity and sport later in life, thus affecting their confidence and vigour when it comes to working out.

To summarise, strength training should be an essential part of a child’s development, providing they are following a supervised and appropriate program. Despite concerns by parents, scientific evidence has proven that strength training provides many benefits not just on improved sporting performance but overall long term health and wellbeing.

About the Author

Tom runs UFIT Youth Strength and Conditioning Academy out of UFIT One North gym. The academy is designed for 11-18 year olds to help improve sports performance and increase overall fitness and health. Tom has a master’s degree in sports strength and conditioning with a focus on youth training and has previously worked with professional sports teams’ youth academies in the UK.

For more information, contact academy@ufit.com.sg.

See Tom's original article on Urban Remedy.