Weight Training: Is It For Kids?
There is a common misconception that lifting weights at a young age will stunt a child’s growth by damaging their growth plates. However, less stress is put on the joints when performing a squat with weights compared to landing on both feet. If your kids are jumping down from trees or hopping off trampolines, they would be stressing their growth plates more than when they do weight-training. Therefore, weight-training is not harmful to kids, provided it is performed correctly under supervision.
When is the Right Age to Start Weight Training?
Up till the age of 10, sports and other forms of active play are important. However, beyond this age, kids can benefit by moving into more formalized training such as lifting weights. They should start off with simple strength exercises that make use of body weight, such as squats, lunges, crunches and bridges. This is a great way to help hone their coordination and motor control. By improving on those skills, they will be building a strong foundation that will allow to perform more complex exercises in the future.
Why Should Kids do Weight-Training?
Weight-training can create a strong foundation that will allow kids to excel athletically in the future. For example, the ability to jump, sprint, and land well are all dependent on a person’s ability to squat, lunge and hip hinge well. By introducing kids to formalized weight training at an early age, parents are helping to ensure their success in future athletic activities.
This training will also come in handy for kids if they ever play sports competitively. Most sports will require athletes to be good at such exercises. This means that they would be ahead of their peers who did not receive any weight-training.
Lastly, by introducing kids to basic gym-based movements through weight-training, it allows them to master these movements at a young age. This means that they will be less prone to injury in the future as they know the correct forms.
How Should Kids Lift Weights?
The best way is to start slow. Kids first need to master the fundamental and basic movements. Some examples of these are squatting, lunging, hip hinging, pressing and rowing. These exercises will equip them with the knowledge of how to brace their trunk and spine against external forces.
There are a variety of bodyweight exercises out there and many of them have different variations. Training with these exercises and their variations with their bodyweight as the only source of resistance is a great way to aid them in developing good motor control. This will become the foundation that will allow them to perform these same exercises with weights in the future.
When they can comfortably perform these exercises with good control, parents can start to introduce some weights. Make sure to introduce the weights gradually. Your kids should be able to perform 10-12 repetitions with perfect technique before they move on to a slightly heavier weight. Before increasing the difficulty, it is important to ensure that they can finish each set with the strength to do another 2 or 3 more repetitions.
Finally, your kids should enjoy lifting weights. To make it more fun and exciting for them, you turn it into a game by testing their coordination and agility or by including some jumping and landing.