Strength Training for Children

8th December 2019
Have you heard the myth that strength training can be harmful if performed at an early age?

There’s a lot of misinformation when it comes to strength training for children. However, as we all know, strength training can be detrimental to anyone’s health if performed incorrectly.

Strength training from an early age is actually backed by science. For example, an American study demonstrated that strength training, when performed correctly in both intensity and volume and is done under the supervision of a professional, can be beneficial for the psychological and physical development of a child.

Recent studies have also shown that children around the age of 12 can experience similar progress with strength training compared to adults. The experience, however, isn’t completely the same due to hormonal factors.

Benefits for young people

Now you know that young people have the potential to improve their strength without harming their health. The following are a few benefits:

  • Strength training reduces the risk of injury while practicing sports or performing daily activities. Most physical activities involve muscular effort. Therefore, physical activities could be carried out more efficiently by children who train.
  • Just as in adults, this training can favor the mineralization of bones and increase joint health in young people.
Boy strength training

  • Strength training also increases insulin sensitivity in addition to increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat. This can have a positive effect on a teenager’s self-confidence.

Strength training and growth

One of the most widespread myths about this discipline is that it impedes growth.

There’s actually no scientific evidence that training from an early age can have an effect on overall bone growth. However, as we previously mentioned, there is evidence that proves the contrary.

A study carried out at the University of Hong Kong showed that supervised strength training increases bone mineralization regardless of the practitioner’s age.

Precautions

Although it brings along numerous benefits, it’s also important to keep in mind that precautions should be taken in order to prevent injuries. The following are a few precautions to take while strength training:

  • When it comes to children, special care should be given to the body’s cartilages, since they’re still growing. Cartilage is a substance that’s found in long bones and it’s responsible for growth. When it comes to children, special care should be taken while weightlifting since their cartilage isn’t fully solidified.
  • The injuries caused by strength training, regardless of age, are usually caused by the misuse of equipment or insecurity of the installation. It’s important to pay attention to both of these aspects.
  • Special emphasis should be taken when it comes to technique. Their exercises should be perfectly structured and designed for them specifically.
Girl strength training

Considerations when strength training

As we’ve previously mentioned, this discipline can be harmful and dangerous if it’s not carried out under the supervision of a qualified professional and without the correct measures, technique, and adaptation for each individual. Therefore, pay attention to the following considerations:

  • It’s important to keep in mind that the young practitioner’s body is not fully developed, excess weight or poor warm-ups could have a negative effect on bone development.
  • Training sessions should be adapted to the intensity and volume of the practitioner’s biological age. It’s better to start with low-intensity workouts in order to adapt to proper techniques.
  • Their training should be based on multi-articular exercises. Functional training should take precedence over other exercises. Their load could be increased progressively by 5 to 10 percent.
  • All of their training should be carried out under the supervision of a professional. The professional will be in charge of monitoring technique and safety.

Conclusions

In conclusion, the myth that strength training is detrimental to growth is wrong. It’s due largely to misinformation. Strength training that’s properly designed and adapted to an individual’s level and age could bring many health benefits.

In addition to physical benefits, it can help young people understand the importance of sacrifice and self-improvement, which will have a positive impact on their mental health and maturity.

  • Faigenbaum, A. D. (2000). Strength training for children and adolescents. Clinics in Sports Medicine,19(4), 593-619.
  • Matos, N., & Winsley, R. J. (2007). Trainability of young athletes and overtraining.Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 6(3), 353.
  • YU, C. C., SUNG, R. Y., SO, R. C., Lui, K. C., Lau, W., LAM, P. K., & MC LAU, E. D. I. T. H. (2005). Effects of strength training on body composition and bone mineral content in children who are obese.The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 19(3), 667-672.