It’s not uncommon to hear women are afraid weightlifting as it will make them bulky, adults often fear that strength training is unsafe for kids.
It’s easy to understand these natural reservations, but it's important to get the record straight. The truth is, strength training is safe and good for kids - when it's done the right way.
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 everyday. 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, cardio vascular risk factors and psycho-social well being.
When is the right age to introduce them to strength training?
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 to much too soon).
Mentoring and learning from highly experienced strength & conditioning coaches is crucial to your child’s development.
Causes of injury
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 along side an appropriate strength training program in order to combat repetitive strain and overuse injuries.
It’s not just the physical you need to look into…
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 well being. 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. UFIT Clinic provides one of the best Performance Psychologists in Singapore - Dr Jay Lee. She works with parents and children to develop their mental focus and get the best out of their performance. 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 effecting their confidence and vigor when it comes to working out.
If there’s three things you should take away from this article, then make sure you’re doing this for your child…
· Strength training should be an essential part of a child’s development
· Make sure they are following a supervised and appropriate program both physically and psychologically
· 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 well being.
About UFIT Youth Academy
Our Strength and Conditioning Masters-qualified coaches can provide your kids aged 11 and up with training to enhance their sports performance and overall fitness in a fun and motivating environment.
Within walking distance of Tanglin Trust School and close to UWC and other international schools, these classes are a conveniently located after-school activity. All levels and abilities are welcome, don't miss out and join us for your child's Free Trial at Youth Academy.
All weekdays, 4pm to 5pm *except Wednesday
About the Author
Tom Clarke 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 professional sports team’s youth academies in the UK. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
All our blogs are written in conjunction with our sister site UFIT Clinic