Children and adolescents, whether they’re athletes or not, can successfully and safely improve their overall health and function with strength training (i.e. resistance training or weight training).

Whilst children lifting weights can be a hot topic among parents, exercise professionals are saying “yes, they should” in order to reap the wide range of physical health benefits it provides.

However, it needs to be done correctly.

It’s not uncommon for parents to have their reservations about their child lifting weights. Concerns about damage to growth plates, stunting their height, or becoming injured are usually at the forefront of their minds.

However, as more research comes to light, these notions are being disproved and it’s becoming increasingly necessary for children to lift weights and undertake strength training, especially when they are supervised by an accredited exercise professional.

Benefits of strength training in children and adolescent

Some of the more obvious benefits that come with children participating in safe weight training (or strength training) include improving their fitness, becoming stronger, they are less likely to become overweight and obese, and they will have better mental health.

Although active play and a range of sports are imperative for the physical and mental health of children up until the age of about 10 years old, after this age, there’s merit in moving them into a more formalised strength training program.

Performing traditional strength exercises (starting with bodyweight and progressing slowly) is the perfect way to develop a base of good motor control and coordination. This is important because it lays the foundation that underpins their ability to perform more complex movement tasks.

Things like jumping, sprinting, bounding, and landing are all pre-determined by your ability to squat, lunge, and hip hinge well.

For this reason, formalised weight training can really set your child up for success in any future athletic endeavours.

How should children and adolescent start lifting weight?

The key is to start gradually.

Exercise professionals will engage your child in a range of exercises that develop muscle strength and fundamental movement skill abilities (e.g., bodyweight squatting, lunging, pressing and pulling movements).

When bodyweight technique is attained, children can be introduced to more complex exercises that challenge their coordination and require more speed and power.

For weightlifting exercises, it has been suggested that early experiences use modified equipment and light resistance, and focus on technique.

Additionally, you want it to be fun.

This might mean incorporating game-based play into your training sessions. It might involve some reactive agility tasks, some jumping and landing, or even some coordination activities.

Things to consider

When implemented correctly, weight training can improve coordination, build strength and resilience, enhance mental health and self-esteem, boost sport performance, and reduce injury risk.

Moreover, it can set them up for a lifetime of health success.

For those parents who want their child to start strength training safely, it’s always important to get advice from an expert.

Contact us today to book an appointment with one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists.

Phone 03 6122 0150.