Can my child benefit from resistance training?

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Research shows that resistance training is safe, effective, and necessary for kids. Resistance training can increase the strength of a childs muscles, bones, and connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, fascia, etc), decrease injury, and improve athletic performance. 

Keys to resistance training with youth:
1. Supervision
2. Age appropriate exercise
3. Appropriate intensity
4. Teach proper posture and execution of exercises
5. Teach the importance and benefits of lifetime health and fitness
6. Make it fun
Resistance training is both safe and very effective for children. It has been a common perception in the past that children should not perform resistance training. However, it has been shown through research that resistance training cannot only help reduce the growing problem of childhood obesity, but it can also help to decrease the chance of injury in children who become involved with sports. The intensities should be age appropriate, monitored by an adult and the focus should be on improving postural control and stabilization. Body weight exercises or using resistance (weight) that is between 40%-70% of an estimated 1 repetition maximum for the child is appropriate. By teaching youth the importance and advantages of health and fitness at early ages, it is possible to have a positive impact on the obesity epidemic which is sweeping across the world. Resistance training in youth can also improve self esteem and social aspects of life which can contribute to better focus in education.
Erik Phillips
Sports Medicine
The addition of resistance training during youth exercise offers many advantages.  Benefits of strength and conditioning exercises for children include stronger muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons.  Resistance training can also decrease fat, increase metabolism, and ultimately lead to making positive decisions that can help fight childhood obesity.  One of the greatest benefits however, may be the ability of youth resistance training to help prevent injury in sports as well as activities of daily living.  According to an  American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) study in 1993, 50 percent of preadolescent sports injuries could be prevented in large part by youth strength and conditioning programs. 

The goal of youth resistance training should be to improve the musculoskeletal strength of children and adolescents while exposing them to a variety of safe, effective and fun training methods.  There is the potential of serious injury if safety standards for youth resistance training such as competent supervision, qualified instruction, safe equipment and age-specific training guidelines are not followed. 

Absolutely!  I love the idea of kids learning about food and exercise at a young age.  My kids try to out-perform me in pushups every day.  It’s great for kids to condition their bodies so long as you stay realistic and aren’t trying to turn them into the next 5 year old Olympic Power lifter.  Research studies strongly suggest that resistance training for youth brings positive benefits like increased self esteem, better cardiovascular health, muscular conditioning and stamina.  Not only that – it can set them up for increased health for the rest of their lives!  If you want to get your kids started with resistance training, here’s the best advice, make sure the exercise program is well-supervised, fun and progressive (meaning that they start slow and advance with their abilities). Forget the hype out there that kids should be careful of stunting their growth or hurting their bodies – studies are now showing that kids can safely participate in resistance training to improve their conditioning and athletic performance.  If you aren’t sure about what program your child should participate in, or you want your child to have personal supervision,  I would suggest finding a local certified fitness professional (preferably with an NASM credential) to supervise your child’s training. On the flip side, I would caution you not to turn into that crazy soccer mom yelling at their child about their training – we want kids to view sports and training as a fun and great way to keep themselves happy and healthy for a long lifetime! 

Great question! Yes. The benefits of supervised youth resistance training can include improved body-awareness, self-esteem, self-discipline, improvement in communication skills and increased trust and responsibility. The best of all is a healthier and more confident youth. I hope this helps and have fun!

Resistance training in beneficial for children, they can get the same benefits adults get from it. Some of the benefits are having stronger bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and better athletic performance.

Before starting a resistance training program a child must have supervision from a personal trainer to make sure that the modality of resistance training is adequate according to age, as well as form, tempo and intensity. Also a postural assessment would be recommended to determine if corrective exercise is needed, which will help with proper form and prevent injuries. One more thing to take in count is that the child needs to have fun with the program that is when creativity comes in place, always having present that safety goes first.

    Absolutely positively great stuff for children.  In the past, people believed that children should not perform resistance training.  As NASM stated above, research has shown that resistance training cannot only help reduce the occurrence of childhood obesity, but it can also help to decrease the chance of injury in children who become involved with sports.

    Body weight exercises are best such as pullups, pushups, and calisthenics.  Sand bells are great for performing a lot of resistance exercises and drills.  It would be a good idea to hire a personal trainer to work with your child to ensure the workout is age appropriate, proper form is used, and corrective exercise is incorporated as needed.

    Resistance training can have wonderful benefits for your child. The latest research has indicated that appropriate resistance training is safe and effective for building soft tissue strength (muscle, tendon, ligament, and fascia) and stronger bones. Resistance training can also enhance a child’s self-esteem and improve their confidence. With childhood obesity on the rise, the strength and muscle building properties of resistance training can increase your child’s metabolism as well.

    I would recommend a parent consult with a professional coach/trainer to ensure proper mechanics and development of a program that progresses with your child.

    Yes, absolutely! Research has shown that resistance training is both safe and effective for children. The important thing for us to remember is that children are not miniature adults, and therefore cannot be trained in the same way as adults. Resistance training in children has been shown to have positive effects on motor skills (such as running and jumping), body composition, and bone mineral density. It has also been effective in reducing the risk of injury - especially in youth sports.

    For children participating in a resistance training program it is essential to be supervised by a qualified professional who understands correct training techniques, and proper training progressions.

    In short, absolutely! Research has shown that children of all ages can benefit from resistance training. Not so long ago, a school of thought existed that shed a negative light on resistance training for kids. It was thought that weight training too early could lead to all kinds of things such as growth plate damage and stunted growth. Fortunately, these ideas were unfounded and largely just myth. Instead research has demonstrated the exact opposite effects. Kids who have participated in structured, appropriate fitness programs have actually been found to have stronger muscles, bones and structure compared to those who don't. In addition, regular resistance training has been shown to improve proprioception and decrease injury in children who participate in other sports.

    Absolutely! The human body was meant to be used. The old adage; If you don't use it you lose it is oh, so true. Starting early is the best time to form good habits. Remember when your child first started trying to lift him/herself up off of the floor? That was a push up. Remember when he/she first stood up? That was a squat. The only difference between lifting weights and everyday living is that you’re doing it on purpose. Please get your kids involved.

    Absolutely! If performed properly, resistance training offers many bonuses for children. Below are just a few of the many benefits:

    • Increases your child’s muscle strength and endurance
    • Enhance sports performance
    • Strengthen bones
    • Boost their metabolism
    • Help maintain a healthy weight
    • Improve self esteem

    Absolutely! Resistance training in children provides many of the same benefits as resistance training with adults. For those children participating in sports, resistance training will decrease the risk of injury by improving proprioception and increasing the strength of tendons, ligaments, bones, and muscles. The key to resistance training with children is to stress correct posture and form. It is also important to make sure to start them with resistance exercises that will stress proprioception and motor control over pure getting weight up. This will allow them to move correctly in all activities they participate in decreasing the likelihood of injury.

    It depends on the goals of the child, but essentially yes! It has been shown that resistance training can help correct muscle imbalances, improve balance and stability, and help reduce the risk of injury. It can help kids gain more control over their bodies. The youth client will have special needs as compared to adults performing resistance training; so meeting with a trainer who understands those differences is essential. With obesity and type 2 diabetes increasing in the youth population, it has been recommended that children get at minimum 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day. Making a fun and safe environment for youth is very important, and will help insure they take these lessons learned early throughout their lives.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.