Youth Resistance Training Yay or Nay?
One of the largest debated topics is whether or not to have your children participate in resistance training. As well as, if you choose to do so, when is a good time to start! The old "narratives" and "research" tell us resistance training is bad for youth below the age of 12. Such things have been said as "It will close growth plates", "stunt growth", "is dangerous on tendons and ligaments", and "will cause confidence issues". We are here to tell you... FALSE!
Debunking Common Myths About Youth Resistance Training
Let us start by debunking these and other common myths and "excuses" given for holding the youth out of resistance training
Myth #1: Youth Resistance Training Will Stunt Your Growth
FALSE: There is no scientific evidence to support that youth resistance training stunts growth. A well-designed and supervised resistance training program actually can and will improve bone growth, bone density and bone development.
Myth #2: It's Unsafe
FALSE: Resistance training is only unsafe if it is unsupervised. The same level of risk applies to adults as it does the youth. You would not let your child practice resistance training without an experienced coach and the proper equipment, just like you would not let your child play contact football without an experienced coach and a helmet. There is an assumption of risk involved in all sports and training, accidents can happen - the key is in providing qualified instruction.
Myth #3: Youth Need to be at Least 12 Years Old to Start Resistance Training
FALSE: The only true requirement for youth resistance training is the ability to listen and follow instruction. When children are ready for organized sports — which usually happens between the ages of 6 to 8 — then they are ready to be exposed to resistance training in a safe environment. All children develop at a different rate, so to set a defined age range that applies across the board, to both males and females, is wildly inaccurate.
Myth #4: It Makes Girls Bulky
FALSE: The only true physical effect resistance training has on young females is getting stronger and more explosive — and that's a good thing. While girls and boys react differently to this type of training, there is little evidence that resistance training will make girls bulky. Especially if the training is focused on proper technique, movement patterns, and done regularly - the outcome will be more than ideal.
Myth #5: Resistance Training is Only for Youth Athletes that are Involved In Sports
FALSE: Regular practice in resistance training can benefit any child — even those who are not on an athletic team. Resistance training builds strength for a healthier body composition and improved physical skills. In fact, because the benefits are so many, resistance training is an encouraged behaviour for children.
Reasons to Start Training Early
Now, let's get to all the reasons why you SHOULD get your child involved in a resistance training program and all the major benefits that come along with that!
Creates a Foundation for a Strong and Stable Future
Resistance training plays a significant role in ensuring that young athletes develop motor skills, understand muscle mechanics and become more coordinated, stable and strong as they progress through their athletic careers.
Athletes go through several changes during adolescence. Many fundamentals for long-term athletic development are established. As such, it is imperative that young athletes are proficient in movement basics so that their platform for growth and development continues along an upward trend.
Reduces Risk of Injury
Resistance training for young athletes builds injury resiliency as they improve joint flexibility, tendon strength and core strength.
Participating in a resistance training program early and often will also increase foundational strength and training knowledge. Young athletes gain a better understanding of muscle mechanics and proper form. Proper technique during weight training with all athletes is gear towards efficiency, safety and injury prevention. The technique an athlete learns first is the technique they will use until they are taught otherwise. If bad habits are developed early, not only are they tougher to break, but also priming an athlete for injury. Whether tomorrow or years from now, improper technique can lead to both acute and chronic injuries. Executing a lift with proper form, whether it's light weight or heavy weight, is crucial for safety in youth strength training.
Quite possibly one of the greatest benefits of resistance training for young athletes is the impact on self-esteem and self-confidence.
Studies have shown an increase in positive self-image with regular strength training. The rigors of a strength program, within reason, help a young athlete gain focus, attention and dedication. They see what their body can do that it could not do before. All that in addition to improved body composition from their training. The resulting confidence and self-esteem helps them not only in their sport, but in all avenues of life.
Of course, resistance training during adolescence will also result in impressive strength gains. In fact, it's commonly recognized that increases in muscular strength seen in adolescence exceed those gained in older athletes. While a progressive strength training program is always recommended for young athletes, it is greatly beneficial to have kids begin bodyweight exercises and training with resistance bands as early as age 6.
Improved Sports Performance
A stronger athlete is a better athlete. Often, we see parents and coaches hyper-focused on sport-specific training when in actuality, greater benefits can be seen with a well-rounded resistance training program, especially for younger athletes.
Youth athletes do not have the strength, endurance, or stability of their muscles and joints to properly or efficiently perform many sports skills. Sport-specific training at a young age can actually result in muscle imbalances and improper training technique. Resistance training for young athletes supports optimal mobility, stability, coordination, strength, and movement efficiency. In sports, this results in improved speed, agility, quickness and conditioning.
Adds Variety to Activites
We always have to remember we're dealing with children — they want to have fun! While kids are becoming more goal-oriented and dedicated at a younger age these days, it is especially important for coaches and parents alike to be aware of, and avoid, athlete burnout. One of the best ways of doing this is by mixing up the training routine for youth athletes. This way, your children don't feel like they are always practicing and playing their sport, but they know they are still working toward improving their skills.
After further examination, we can greatly see the benefits to youth resistance training greatly outweigh any assumed risk that may lie within. At SEDulous, we encourage all parents to get their children involved in a resistance training program, including bodyweight exercises, banded exercised, and proper technique as soon as they are mature enough to listen and learn!
If you are interested in getting your children started in resistance training, Olympic weightlifting, or a sports performance program, the sooner the better, let's start today! Please contact us as we have a passion for helping the youth and thrive on building the futures next top athletes and individuals!