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Is strength training okay for kids?

Strength training is absolutely great for kids!  However, strength training for very young children is best performed on the jungle gym, combined with activities like jump rope, climbing, jumping, hanging upside down, and using the monkey bars. Children are born fitness enthusiast and naturally want to hop, skip, and jump their way through life.

Body weight strength exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, dips, lunges, squats, and rope climbing are additional exercises that can be introduced to young, pre-teen, and teens.

At the age of one, I introduced yoga exercises to my now three year old son. At three, he has mastered the down-dog and taught himself how to do a forward roll.

Children naturally want to exercise and we adults should follow their lead.

Yes, with proper supervision. I recommend starting with body weight exercises - push-ups, pull-ups and planks - to build a nice base with no risk. From there, graduate to light resistance training with emphasis on technique. 

 

Research shows that strength training is both safe and effective for children. The important thing to remember is that children are not miniature adults, and therefore cannot be trained in the same way as adults. Strength 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 strength training program it is essential to be supervised by a qualified professional who understands correct training techniques, and proper training progressions.

 

Strength training is good for every able body just so long as it is medically safe and structured and monitored by an adult in the case of kids. Kids generally like to keep active anyway. They go outside and play. They play sports in school. They drive their parents crazy with the energy they have!  As long as the training is by a trained professional, for example a personal trainer or sports coach then strength training is not only ok but recommended.

Yes.  Today, there is research that supports the safety and effectiveness of resistance training amongst both preadolescents and adolescents. Strength training and weightlifting is a safe and effective means of exercise for children.  Many strength training exercises can safely be performed with little to no body weight and with little adult supervision.  Examples of muscle strengthening include: Tug of War, modified push-ups, and even swinging on playground equipment.  Bone strengthening exercises include: hop-scotch, jumping, skipping, running, and gymnastics.

Weight training programs should be designed and supervised by a qualified Health and Fitness Professional in order to ensure the execution of proper technique and assist with spotting.  Slow and controlled movements are most appropriate for beginners at this age.  Progression into advanced phases should be decided based on maturity level, dynamic postural control (flexibility and stability) and the recommendation of a licensed physician. 

Strength training is a great and important activity for people of all ages.  Children as young as 8 can begin a strength training program.  Body weight exercises are a good place to start as well as utilizing exercise tubing or bands.  Body weight exercises are those that use the individual's own body weight, along with gravity, as resistance.  Bands and tubing can be used in place of traditional weight machines or dumbbells because 1. the resistance is not as great 2. these tools require stabilization of the joints 3. not just the prime mover muscle(s) is being utilized.  Proper form and technique is vital when children begin a strength training program.  If you are unsure of proper technique, enlist the advice of a certified professional to help your child.  Poor technique and improper form will lead to poor and altered joint motion that will haunt your child into his/her teen years, and then into adulthood, and lead to injury and pain.
Once a child is an adolescent and into puberty, he or she can begin appropriate strength training with increased resistance and intensity.  It is still important to stress proper form and technique.

For young children, 12 and under, I wouldn't suggest doing formal strength training.  Encourage  them to play.  Have them climb ropes, swing on monkey bars, partner up to do wheel barrows and other bodyweight drills that will be fun and develop their strength.  When they are in 7th-8th grade, it is an ideal time to introduce them to proper strength training.  Focus on technique when starting them out on their strength training program.

Strength training should be an important, fun part of any child's physical routine. Strength training, not weightlifting, should be practiced regularly under adult supervision, for any child who participates in organized sports. The emphasis for children should be to learn proper technique and to build endurance through resistance training. Resistance should be minimal to start and slowly build as the child grows and masters the proper technique. Sit-ups and push-ups are great examples of strength, or resistance, training for children.

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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.