Have you or anyone you know ever heard these questions about kids and weightlifting: Is it okay for my child to strength train? Will it stunt my child’s growth? Will my child become too bulky to be fast in their sport? Will they make strength gains?
Is it okay for my child to be involved in strength training? Yes, absolutely!
Is it okay for my child to be involved in strength training? Yes, absolutely! This is a funny one for me to understand, because as it was pointed out in a podcast I listen to: we put our kids in full contact sports, where risk of injury can be high, and we then think that having them sit up and down a few times under a barbell might put them at risk for injury. Some things to keep in mind while having your youth begin strength training:
- Form is everything
- Make sure it is correct before you begin loading it
- Make sure it stays proper as load is progressed
- Load appropriately based on intelligent progression and sport
- Focus on multi-joint lifts for total body strength
If you don’t know what these bullet points mean or what to look for on form, connect with a trainer that does.
Will strength training stunt my child’s growth? It was believed at one time that youth strength training put kids at risks for growth plate injuries or that strength training would cause the growth plates to close before a child was done growing. Both of the previous statements are patently false. Our bones are extremely strong and able to resist and attenuate compression forces very well, in fact they even bend when under tremendous weight, think a building swaying during an earthquake so that it doesn’t break. The forces going through a kids’ body while they are running and jumping can be equal to and even greater than a beginning strength training program. Furthermore, our bones, just like our muscles will adapt to the stresses placed upon them and become stronger.
Our bones are extremely strong and able to resist and attenuate compression forces very well, in fact they even bend when under tremendous weight, think a building swaying during an earthquake so that it doesn’t break.
Will my child become too bulky to be fast their sport? No, the main hormones that help us build muscle do not begin circulating in the bloodstream until mid puberty. What does that mean? It means that your child does not have the full capacity to really build increased muscle mass until they are full swing into puberty (voice cracking and all).
So, why strength training? Youth and strength training in general can improve many of your bodies functions both as far as muscle property, but also on a deeper cellular level. Specifically, youth strength training can improve:
- Body awareness
- Lean body mass
- Help decrease fat mass
- Bone density
- Total speed
- Psychosocial factors (confidence, socialization, improved mood, sense of accomplishment, friends)
In conclusion, strength training for youth athletes, is it dangerous? No. It won’t stunt your child’s growth and it won’t make them bulky or/and too huge for their sport. Strength training for your youth can be a great way to build base strength and/or supplement a sport/program that your youth may be involved in to help make them bigger, stronger, and faster.
In conclusion, strength training for youth athletes, is it dangerous? No.
As always, I hope this helps! If you have any questions or would like to read about certain topics, send us an email at TeamSP@SportsPerformancePT.com.
-Dr. Nick Schroeder, PT, DPT
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