Home>Sport>“Should my child be in the gym – the truth behind why resistance training is not bad for your kids”

“Should my child be in the gym – the truth behind why resistance training is not bad for your kids”

Friday 5 November in Sport

Let’s clear something up straight away. Resistance training, aka strength training, aka weight training is NOT inherently bad for people under 16. “But it will stunt their growth, fracture their bones and injure their muscles” I hear you cry….

I have navigated this industry for nearly 20 years, and still work with athletes under 16-years of age who have all seem to have grown perfectly fine. In fact, they grow to be physically stronger and mentally more upbeat than kids that don’t- after all, exercises produces endorphins.

Don’t take my word for it, Dr Avery Faigenbaum, who has been researching paediatric exercise science for decades says the same. By all accounts, he’s a pretty astute guy in the field

Kids spend their early years, probably until around the age of 14-16, running around like lunatics, hopping, jumping and swinging on and off things. Only yesterday my 4-year-old daughter proudly wanted to show me that she can jump from the 4th step to the floor in our house. She expertly showed me six times... We accept this behaviour freely.

My point being - kids absorb more force and stress through their bodies with everyday antics than anything they would potentially do in the gym.

So let’s talk about the gym.

Now it goes without saying that when a child is in the gym, participating in any form of resistance training, they need to be in a safe and secure environment, supervised by a qualified coach. The exercises could simply be in the form of body weight exercises, using resistance bands or even weight. However, most gyms won’t allow Under16’s in for this exact reason.

Of course, there is always a risk of injury in the gym – whether you’re a kid or an adult.,

The notion that strength training for youths will automatically cause problems is a myth we need to dispel. Additionally, professionally prescribed training may actually reduce the chances of sport related injuries by increasing physical strength and resilience. Research has even shown that age appropriate resistance training can benefit bone health and body composition too.

I see more than fifty under 16 year old athletes every week, 95% of them ‘lift weight’. Some are just at the inception of their journey, whilst others have been training for 3 years, but the key thing is – they all progress when they are sufficiently competent, and they progress slowly. Context is king of course. Oh, and they all have a smile on their face too. Strength training can have huge benefits on your mental health!

Ben Carling is the Owner of Sports Performance Services Ltd and a Strength & Conditioning Coach.

If you would like to find out further information about his research/services please call 07624 431271 or email [email protected].

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