It’s easy to dismiss strength training for kids.
One of the biggest strength training myths is that it’s not appropriate for children. People believe that it will affect their development and their bone growth. In reality strength training for children can be very beneficial, when done properly and supervised by a degreed exercise physiologist. Don’t just take my word for it, organizations like The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), three highly respected organizations, have all come out in support of appropriate/supervises strength training for children. Some of the benefits of strength training for kids include: increased strength, increased self-confidence, increased motor control, and a decrease in injury. Just think about how many times as an adult you’ve said, in terms of exercise and strength training, “I wish I knew then what I know now”.
There really is not set rule for when a child should start a strength-training program but one rule to follow is can the child listen to and follow directions and can the child do so in a structured fitness center setting. A quality program for kids will focus on technique over performance, be properly supervised, won’t be sport specific, and be a fun and positive experience. The exercises prescribed should be easy to accomplish and if they can’t then no weights should be added, for example if a kid struggles with squats then they should only focus on body weight squats and not worry about adding weights. If you’re still not convinced that kids can participate in weight-training programs, just think of the impact their bodies take in sports like football, hockey, and gymnastics. If kids can participate in these sports then weight training is definitely ok for them. If you have questions on where or how to provide a proper program for you child, ask one of DHAC’s degreed exercise physiologists for guidance.
–Nick Kamberidis, Exercise Physiologist at Dedham Health