There was a time, and not all that long ago, when it was a hotly debated topic as to whether kids should weight lift and strength train.
The controversy arose from worries that the epiphyseal plates, of spongy bone, sometimes called growth plates, that allow a child to grow, are not yet closed completely in children. The open area between these plates allows for normal growth. The thinking was that weightlifting, and certain other forms of exercise and physical activity, could, theoretically, cause these structures to close prematurely, impacting a child's growth and development negatively.
More recent studies show that there is no clinical evidence of weightlifting by children causing such growth plate injuries when done properly. In fact, most fitness trainers, as well as family physicians, now agree that weightlifting and strength training, when properly performed and supervised, is generally beneficial to children.
Obesity, especially childhood 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 anyone, children, or adults, to get rid of fat. In addition to its ability to help
effectively burn 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 experiences, 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.
The American 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 weightlifting exercise.
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 final comment: It has been found that the sort of life children lead has a definite and traceable effect on their health and fitness in their later life. It is easier for a previously active child to get BACK into shape as an adult, an active and physically fit child will more likely maintain a higher level of fitness than childhood "couch potatoes", and, on average, the active child's health will be better throughout adulthood.