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Should my kid be weight lifting?

When should your child start weight lifting? Sports are huge in the minds of parents as it gives our kids an outlet for their energy and even creativity among other reasons. Currently, weightlifting has become more prominent option, even for younger athletes and there are questions that many parents have when it relates to their young athletes and weight lifting. The 2 big questions are, 1) is it safe for kids to lift weights and 2) what age can kids start lifting weights? These same questions were asked and answered about plyometrics for decades and the research as well as common observations explains the answer. Look at what our children do when they play. They run, they jump up on things and they jump off things. These are all considered plyometric movements. So, should kids perform plyometrics movements as part of their training. I'll let you answer that one. Now, let's look at the slightly more controversial questions as mentioned above. Is it safe for our children to lift weights? The answer is yes. Two of the leading researchers in the field of youth fitness, Fleck and Kraemer, state that weightlifting has multiple benefits for youth athlete, once there is no maximal loading (i.e. 1 rep max lifts) Below are some of the benefits:

If appropriate training guidelines are followed, regular participation in a youth strength-training program has the potential to increase bone mineral density, improve motor performance skills, enhance sports performance, and better prepare young athletes for the demands of practice and competition.

A study of young male powerlifters found that high-intensity resistance training is effective in increasing lumbar spine and whole-body bone mineral density.

Resistance training enhances strength and muscular endurance in youth and children. In pre-pubescent children, this increase in strength appears to be the result of neuromuscular activation and coordination supporting evidence that androgens (the hormones largely responsible for increased strength and muscle mass) are not needed for strength gain.

With proper supervision, children and youth who participate in a strength training program are not at an increased risk for injury compared to children and youth who do not participate in such a program.

These are just some of the benefits of strength training for our youth athletes. What age should my child start weight lifting? According to American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no real age limit on when children can begin weight lifting, however, from my point of view, children need to learn, first and foremost, how to move properly in multiple planes before weight should be introduced, as is the same for adults. As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, safety is the number one priority when training. Once a strong foundation has been established, we can then progress to the next level. The goal is to master stability, balance and coordination along with the basic movements of squats, lunges, push-ups, running form, deceleration and acceleration, speed and agility. With the education of movement quality and efficiency comes muscle efficiency and strength gains. As children then hit puberty, muscle mass gains or hypertrophy, to be fancy, become more evident. Not only does strength training develop an athlete physically, but it also has the potential to build self-efficacy and confidence through individual success in the weight room. Strength training can also set our athletes up with good mechanics to reduce the risk of injury and health issues when our sports days are over. Conclusion At the end of the day weight lifting wont hurt our athletes or stunt their growth. It will only help them one it's done in a progressive and safe manner.


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