Weight Training and Children
When it comes to resistance training or free weights, there is a lot of information out there and not all of it is necessarily true. Many people believe certain myths that go around or that were a popular belief at some point.
Even more so when we are talking about kids. People obviously want to protect their children, and getting them into the weight room with a bunch of heavy equipment and metal weights might seem a little scary. Add to that some of the information that has been shared in the past about free weights and kids, which again is not always accurate, and the result is a lack of resistance training in the early years that could actually be very beneficial in their future.
Here are few myths that you might have come across in the past:
1. Strength training is unsafe for kids.
This is our first myth. With proper guidance and technique, it definitely can be done. According to research, "Strength training with dumbbells and barbells can be safe and very effective for youth provided they are given a safe environment to learn."
2. Strength training will stunt the growth of children.
Also, false. This is not backed up by any scientific research, it comes from the belief that "injuries to growth plates in immature bones can stunt growth". However, Dr. Rob Raponi points out that "this is something that can result from poor form, weights that are too heavy, and a lack of supervision. But it’s not the result of lifting weights correctly."
3. Children cannot increase strength because they do not have enough testosterone.
This is also a myth and Matt Wattles explains that "Testosterone is not essential for achieving strength gains, as evidenced by women and elderly individuals who experience impressive gains in strength even though they have little testosterone."
4. Children don't need to be athletes already in order to do strength training.
On the other hand, there is multiple research that shows the benefits of strength training for all children. According to Bubnis, some of them are:
● increasing strength and bone strength index (BSI)
● decreasing fracture risk and rates of sports-related injury
● growing self-esteem and interest in fitness.
The overall take away: resistance training and free weights can certainly benefit kids in the future when it comes to athletics, body awareness, self-esteem, among many others. Make sure there is an experienced coach training with them to ensure correct form and avoid any injuries and there should be no major concern in enrolling kids in a resistance training program.
Wattles, M. (n.d.). Strength Training for Young Athletes - Safety, 1RM Testing, Growth Plates, and Testosterone. Retrieved from https://www.elitefts.com/education/strength-training-for-young-athletes-safety-1rm-testing-growth-plates-and-testosterone/
Youth Health, Fitness and Sport. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://ccol.algonquincollege.com/fit4050/lesson-4/lesson-content/