Children in strength training: The controversy over this is so immense it is downright staggering. As adults, we probably know the importance of keeping fit. However, with all the insane junk food and sugary sweets kids are exposed to, it’s no wonder childhood obesity is on the high rise.
Which brings us back to this crucial question: while it may be okay for kids and teens to go running outside with dad every morning, is it okay for them to engage in any sort of resistance training?
Well, a past study in Japan among children engaged in child labor says this is a huge no-no. It reports that stunted growth observed among these children had to do with their daily chores, which included bearing heavy loads all day long.
However, critics have pointed out gaps, saying issues to do with nutrition and genetics could have also played a hand in the inhibited heights observed. However, fear persisted that any sort of resistance training would predispose children to injuries since their bodies simply aren’t cut out to deal with the burden yet.
Recent research conducted, however, all point to the exact opposite direction. They blow the past fears out of the waters and, instead, insist that this kind of training could be beneficial to children beyond the age of seven. This is because motor skills are expected to have fully developed by this age.
The Perks Of Lifting For Children
(A) Astounding Motor Skill Development
Most kids at the age of seven can barely tie their own shoelaces. This is because they have not fully mastered the unit motor mechanics of their muscles. The experts point out that by having them gradually master the form of different exercises, you speed up this development.
Consequently, they will be able to contract their muscles more efficiently by the time they get older. As a bonus, you will also need not worry about tying their shoelaces every morning.
(B) Baby Hulks Are Not Such A Bad Thing
Humans were originally built to hunt wild beasts and buffaloes in the wild. Well, guess what, we still have the same bodies – and children are no exception. The only difference is that we eventually became couch potatoes, thanks to Netflix and chill.
Therefore, the human young can bear the burden of strength training. Unlike adults though, they will not achieve much muscle growth due to lack of properly developed hormones. However, they will develop more and more strength with time as they grow into their adulthood years.
(C) Say Goodbye To Child Injuries
Thanks to improved motor skills and stronger muscles, kids become more physically coordinated and less prone to injuries. Attach them to a proper workout program, entailing balanced workouts and stretches and their postures will improve as well.
This reduces risks of injuries related to the spine, pelvis, neck, lower back, and knees at old age. You can also be sure that the number of falls and knee grazes will decrease.
However, for one to reap these benefits, they will need to adhere to the following guidelines to ensure child safety.
The Safety Guidelines
(A) Start Small
Since kids are still growing, their bodies will not have adapted to a number of stresses. So you will need to go easy with the amount of resistance you expose them to. You do not want to overstrain their developing nervous systems. We highly recommend that they start out with body weight exercises before moving on to heavy weights.
(B) It’s All About Form
Let your child focus more on mastering the techniques in different exercises rather than having them crank out a hundred bad reps. This is essential at this point as they are vulnerable to injuries. In addition, it will be difficult to get rid of these bad lifting forms and habits at an older age.
(C) Get An Expert For The Job
Do not just let your kid barge into your gym for a quick lift any time they see fit. They need proper supervision from a qualified pediatric fitness instructor. This will ensure that they are doing the right things and will probably keep the kids from dropping 20 pounders on their tiny feet at any point.
(D) Put The Weights Aside
Bodybuilding and powerlifting are a giant no. You do not want to subject kids to this kind of load until they achieve physical and skeletal maturity (around the age of seven). This will prevent all the issues regarding underdeveloped growth in kids. Check out our calisthenics workout program for ideas. However, you may need to think about getting your kid some sturdy equipment as he/she grows up. A weight bench would be a great start.
(E) Focus On The Big Three
Instead of focusing on smaller muscles, like biceps and triceps, it is highly advisable to lean more toward targeting major muscles (lower body, back, and chest). For example, if they are to work out three times a week, then you could decide to do legs on Monday, back on Wednesday, and chest on Friday. Let the rest of the days be rest days.
(F) Heating Up & Cooling Off The Engine
Before your child commences his/her workout, you need to ensure that they are properly warmed up before the workout and that they cool down afterward. A good example would be to start with warm up sets to get the blood flowing before getting into dynamic stretches or yoga poses. Slow, static stretches could follow the main workout to cool them off.
(G) Don’t Overlook Cardio
Though it is good to pay attention to your kids’ strength training regimen, you must not overlook good old cardio. Not only will this play a major role in their motor skill development, it will also keep them as fit as fiddle.
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(H) Diet & Nutrition Is Paramount
They say that abs are made in the kitchen. Youngsters are no exception. Your work, therefore, does not end in the gym. You need to ensure that your child gets all the right nutrition to ensure that they grow properly. Otherwise, the issues of stunted growth and malnutrition will creep up and smack your kids at the back of their heads at some point.
Have you ever had your kid go through resistance training? What was your experience? Do share with us in the comments section below.
Annie Jones is the main person behind the BoostBodyFit. She started off a bit on the chubby side, but went through the transformation and now enjoys great health and looks great. She is a fan bodyweight training and healthy living. She found the BoostBodyFit to share her experience on Health, Fitness, Sport Nutrition and everything else between.