The title of today's post relates to children and strength training. The general view out there, even within the sports circuit, is that strength training and plyometric training (power) should be left until adulthood. This was the view when we were growing up and still is today. But why? What evidence is there that strength training causes harm, and is there any evidence that it gives benefits? Lets have a look!
So the worry is that strength training will put undue stress and developing joints, bones, muscles, tendons and all other connective tissue that may cause irreparable damage to a youngster. We can see the common sense in that. As kids grow different parts grow at different rates, sometimes leaving them exposed and more likely to become injured. Adding weight on top of this could then cause more damage. Makes sense we suppose...
A recent study published on PubMed has reviewed all the scientific evidence out there to see if these 'common sense' ideas have any truth, fact or evidence behind them. They reviewed scientific papers and anecdotal evidence to spot any patterns. The results? They basically found that strength training for younger people doesn't have any negative effects so long as it's completed safely, with a trained professional and with a progressive overload.
The paper can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23914510
What's more, they also found that the same benefits that adults get from strength training also apply to children and adolescents. They showed improved motor skills, improved body composition (less fat) and better bone health.
What does this all mean then? Should we go out and start our kids dead lifting huge weights right away? Well, no. It's all about progression. If you want to help you child improve their body composition, motor skills and bone health then start off slow with simple strength exercises. Once they're used to these you can get them lifting more complex movements and heavier weights with slow progression. In fact, if you aren't 100% sure you can ensure the correct form is being used then you need to seek professional help. Incorrect form will cause injury eventually (as it does for adults too).
We'd recommend mixing a bit of strength training into their normal routine, maybe substitute one of their 'cardio' sessions. You'll / they'll see the benefit pretty quickly.
Yesterday's article about dirt attracted quite a bit of attention, we wonder if this will do the same as it could be seen as wife controversial!
Free, daily health and fitness blog to help you!
I've been successfully blogging for a while now and have a lovely readership. I'm getting 1000+ views per month but I'd like to reach out to more people.