Weight training is a well known, safe and effective method of exercise for adults, and it is now starting to appeal to the younger generation as a way of improving their fitness, sports performance, and overall health. Although we understand quite a lot about the stimulus of weight training on adults not much research had been carried out on the effect of weight training towards youths, until now. Research on the effect of weight training on children and adolescents in various training protocols has dramatically increased in the last few years. Despite the wide spread understanding that weight training can be bad for children, the safety and effectiveness of weight training for youngsters has been well established and the acceptance of the activity is now well appreciated by medical and fitness professionals worldwide.
The importance of encouraging young people to be physically active at the early stage of their lives is very high to say the least. As it has been proven by many medical professionals that an active and physical lifestyle in a child / adolescent helps to mold their personality and lifestyle further on down the line in their lives. It has also been proved that an active lifestyle when growing up will help to prevent chronic diseases later on in life.
On average a child should undertake a form of physical endurance on all, or most days of the week, whether it be part of play, sport, games, work, transportation, recreation, planned exercise, or physical education. Although a wide variety of activities is recommended, the sole purpose of this article is to talk about the effects of weight training in young people and to discuss the potential benefits, whether it be physical, or psychological.
Weight Training for kids? Yes I know what you're thinking; lifting weights is dangerous for children. Many, many coaches, parents, and fitness professionals think that it's not safe for them and not beneficial for them, and this is since all the proof and research that's proves that this is not the case. Dr. Avery Faigenbaum, a scientist who has studied weight training and children, under proper supervision states that there has never been a case of a serious injury involving children when undergoing strength training. He reminds us that there are risks related to all types of physical activities relating to children and adolescents and that weight training is considered far less common when related to injuries.
A properly designed weight training program for a child or adolescent can improve the overall strength of the child including both muscles and bones, it can improve their cardiorespiratory fitness, increase flexibility, improve motor fitness performance, improve body composition, increase resistance to injury, decrease the time for rehabilitation, enhancement mental health and well being, increase sports performance, increase adherence to physical activity, and stimulate a more positive attitude towards fitness, health, and their general attitude.
Another big myth when it comes to kids lifting weights is the thought that it can stunt their growth. As a matter of fact this used to be the case but with proper research and study it is now found that weight training does not adversely effect a child's cardiovascular health. The research was carried out by the school of physical education and athletics, Mcmaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. This research led to the American Academy of Pediatrics to change their policy regarding this topic by stating that "strength training programs do not seem to adversely affect linear growth and do not seem to have any long-term detrimental effect on cardiovascular health" as evidenced in recent studies.
With America and the rest of the world concerned about the growing rate of obesity, you may want to start your child on a weight training program. Given the results from studies over the years the benefits far outweigh the negatives, whereas the negatives are nil.
Recommended Bodybuilding Weight Training Workouts for Kids
The weight training component of the bodybuilding formula for kids need only be executed a couple of times a week. In my experience, a full body routine composed of free weight basic exercises works best. The routines below can take a kid from a completely beginner level to an intermediate level.
Beginner's Bodybuilding Routine for Kids
Monday / Friday (or any combination that allows a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 3 rest days in between weight training workouts)
Push-ups (could be done with knees on the floor)
One Arm Rows
Wide Stance Squats (pressing with heels)
Overhead Triceps Extensions
- Perform each exercise for 3 sets of as many repetitions as can be performed with good form. The goal is to do between 15-30 repetitions.
- Rest 30-60 seconds in between sets.
- Only use a resistance of 2.5 to 5 lbs on exercises such as one arm rows, lateralises, biceps curls, and overhead triceps extensions. The other exercises can be used without any resistance as the body weight will suffice.
- Concentrate on ensuring that your kid practices perfect form in each exercise and only allow for an increase in resistance when more than 30 repetitions are performed with absolute perfect form.
- As your son or daughter shows an interest in getting more advanced, after 8 weeks of the program above more exercises can be incorporated if desired. For most kids however, the beginner program suffices.
I am currently conducting a survey on whether you would be willing to put your child on a strength training program. If you would be interested in putting your child on a strength training program then simply email me with the subject line Yes if no send an email with the subject No to firstname.lastname@example.org .