Strength Training for Kids, is it a Good Idea?

            CLIMB, SWING, JUMP, THROW, REACH AND HANG…ever watch young children play in a playground equipped with ladders, slides, rings, bars, and chutes!  All this fun is really about exploration and growing…growing in agility, coordination, endurance and STRENGTH.  So why is it that there are still doubts about resistance training for children?  Why do few sports programs offer young athletes a quality resistance training experience and why is childhood obesity in epidemic levels in the United States? Well, for year’s people believed that strength training would negatively impact growth. 

Two of the most common misconceptions are that strength training may stunt the growth of children and that children should not lift weights until they are 12 years old. There is simply no evidence to support either of these statements. In fact, all of the major fitness and medical organizations in the U.S. recommend strength training for youth, assuming that basic guidelines are adhered to and that appropriate leadership is present. And about the question of age, children can begin to train with weights as soon as they are able to accept and follow directions—usually around the age of seven or eight.” (Strength Training for Kids: A Guide for Parents and Teachers, American Council on Exercise Fit Facts)

Still, some coaches…and parents believe that strength training for children is unsafe.  So to get them in shape for sports, they prescribe calisthenics. But most young children have difficulty performing push-ups, dips, pull-ups and even sit-ups correctly or repetitively. Actually, a well designed moderate resistance training program provides a means for building specific strength in muscle groups that can improve kids’ ability to perform calisthenics and protect the joints from injury.  In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine states that fifty percent of pre-adolescent sports injuries could be prevented, in large part, by enrolling kids in youth strength and conditioning programs (ACSM l993)