Sunday, August 21, 2011

Should Kids Lift Weights?

Should children and adolescents participate in strength training? According to an American College of Sports Medicine article by Wayne L. Wescott, the answer is yes. In the old days, fitness professionals were worried that youth strength training could result in stunted growth, bone growth plate damage, and musculoskeletal injury. However, there is no evidence that properly performed and well-supervised youth strength training results in the these problems. In fact, Wescott reports that resistance training significantly increases strength and endurance in children and adolescents. The article further states that “traditional fears associated with youth resistance training have been replaced with more recent findings that indicate that regular participation in weight-bearing physical activities is essential for normal bone growth and development.”

While the benefits of youth strength training are clear, it is still important to keep in mind safety. The following are general guidelines for safe and effective youth resistance training programs:

• Instruction and supervision provided by qualified (certified) fitness professionals

• Program design based on each child’s cognitive development,

physical maturity, and training experience

• Exercise environment that is safe and free from hazards

• 5 to 10 minute dynamic warm-up period prior to strength exercise

• Strength training sessions scheduled two or three non-consecutive days a week

• Strength training programs that begin with 8 to 12 exercises to

strengthen the upper body, lower body, and midsection muscles

• Strength training protocols that begin with one or two sets of 8

to 15 repetitions using a light to moderate load (about 60% of

maximum resistance)

• Exercise sessions that emphasize correct exercise technique and

safe training procedures instead of the amount of resistance used

in training

• Inclusion of exercises that require balance and coordination

• Progression to more advanced exercises that enhance power production

• Cool-down period with less-intense activities and static stretching

• Periodized variations in the strength training program

The general guideline for the age children can begin strength training is seven or eight.

Consider a strength program for your children!

Gage Livingston
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Milwaukee, WI