Contrary to popular belief, strength training is perfectly
safe for both teens and children. In
fact, according to an article in
Pediatrics published in 2001, children as young as 6 years old can begin a
properly supervised strength training program. At that age the children will
increase their strength, but they will not enlarge their muscles.
The hormones that puberty brings are needed for muscles to grow bigger.
Strength training at any age will, however, increase bone density.
When children are strength training it is important that
proper technique is used. Children
should be focusing on strength training, not weight lifting.
Light resistance and controlled movement is the best way for children to
train. Attempting heavy lifts, as in
bodybuilding or weightlifting, when the bones and muscles are not ready for it
can cause injury. Proper form
disappears when a child is struggling to lift too much weight and this can cause
muscle and tendon damage.
Strength training properly will increase a child’s strength
and endurance. It will also help
protect joints from injury and will improve a child’s ability in almost any
sport. If your child is not an
athlete, strength training is still beneficial.
Life in this day and age is often too sedentary and more and more
children are being diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol
levels as well as obesity. Strength
training will help forestall these problems or help bring them into line if they
are already present. Just remember
to keep it light and keep it fun with kids.
Once your child has entered puberty he will be able to
start building muscle with a strength training program.
Teens should avoid trying to use too much weight.
Don’t go for the 1RM as the muscles and tendons are still very
susceptible to injury at this age.
Moderate weight with more reps will do a better job of building muscle for
teens. Teens also need to remember
that a big part of strength training is adequate rest, both for the muscle and
for the teen. Strength training
sessions should be no closer than every other day, every 2 days is even better.
Muscles do not grow during the work out.
The work out provides the building material, but the actual growth
happens during rest. That is
something we all need to remember!