There was a time, and not too long ago, when it was a hotly debated
topic as to whether kids should weightlift and strength train.
The controversy stemmed from the fact that the epiphyseal
plates, sometimes called growth plates, that
allow a child to grow, are not yet closed completely in children and youths.
The open area in these plates is what allows for growth. With
that in mind, the thinking was that weightlifting,
and certain other forms of physical
activity, could possibly cause these structures to close prematurely,
thus impacting a child's growth and development.
More recent studies, however, have shown that there is
no clinical evidence of weightlifting per
se by children causing growth plate injuries when done properly. In fact, most fitness trainers and
family physicians agree that weightlifting and strength training is generally
beneficial to children.
Obesity, especially chilehood
obesity, is rampant in this country. Weightlifting fats fight...at any age.
We know that for a fact.
BUILDS LEAN MUSCLE MASS
Building lean muscle mass is the best way for children,
or adults, to get rid of fat. In addition to its ability to help
fat, weight training and weightlifting provide a routine and discipline that many children crave and need.
Weightlifting in children builds not only muscle but
also self-esteem, confidence, and athletic ability. It teaches
children at an early age respect for their bodies and sets in motion habits of good
nutrition and exercise that can last for a
lifetime...and make that lifetime last longer.
Speaking from his own personal experinces, an acquaintance, or mine, a former proverbial "98 pound
weakling" who was the target of many a school yard bullies, told me he never had his lunch
money stolen again after he began weightlifting and strength training in the 5th
grade, at the advice of his grandfather, a former Golden Glove Boxer.
Pediatric Society recently issued guidelines for strength training and weightlifting in
adolescents. Their report concluded that weightlifting indeed presents
no harm to adolescents (other then the same general risks of injury to any
weightlifter) and that, in fact, it does lead to increased strength and
muscle growth in adolescents and pre-adolescents.
The guidelines went on to say that teens and preteens should not lift to their maximum to avoid
potential injury to growth plates, and that they should lift a weight
that they could comfortably
do 12 -15 repetitions with on a given
No one is suggesting that your child, especially a young
one, should start training like a power
lifter. However, studies have shown that children as young as 8 doing a little strength training
about 100 minutes a week, not at the maximum weight, but at that 10-12
rep range, saw a drastic increase in strength.
It was also reported that children in the study, which monitored 8-12 year olds, also showed improvements in eating habits. Interestingly enough
parents in the study also reported a noticeable improvement in the behavior and
attitude of their children!
One last note on this subject: It has been found that
the sort of life children lead has a definite and traceable effect on
their health and fitness in later life. It is easier for a previously
active child to get back into shape as an adult, he or she will more likely
maintain a higher level of fitness than childhood "couch potatoes", and
the active child's health will be better throughout adulthood on average.