Experts are claiming that the earlier kids start lifting weights, the better.
“The idea that weight lifting stunts the growth of kids is a myth,” Marcus Dripps, president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association and CEO of Corio Bay Health Group, told Coach.
“Any kind of activity that gets kids moving is good – remember childhood obesity is on the rise, and we need Aussie kids to be exercising more and lifting weights counts as part of that.”
Dr Jordan Smith, a lecturer in Physical Education from the University of Newcastle also agreed, telling the publication that the taboo around having adolescents lifting weights is one that’s been heard to break in Australia.
“Yes, it’s definitely a myth that kids shouldn’t be doing some kind of strength training and a long-held one too,” says Smith.
“Frankly there is no scientific evidence that sensible resistance training stunts growth, injures children or results in reduced height.”
Smith explains that when a resistance training program is performed sensibly, the risk involved is extremely minimal.
The type of weight lifting kid should be doing is far more relaxed, and closer to a standard PE lesson than you might realise.
“It’s really important to distinguish between weight lifting and resistance training. Weight lifting commonly refers to the organised Olympic sport, and involves maximal loads during the snatch and the clean and jerk,” says Smith, who’s also a trained PE teacher himself.
“Resistance training on the other hand can include all manner of strengthening exercises including pushups, squats and more advanced techniques with weighted movements. It’s all about matching the appropriate level and technique with a child’s experience.”
“A kids weightlifting program should focus on correct technique and form at all times, and not on the sheer kilos of weight being lifted. It must be performed safely,” says Dripps.
“There’s an enormous amount of benefits in having children participate in resistance training,” says Smith.
“Just some of these include enhanced skeletal health, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, better body composition and even empowering psychological benefits where kids feel better about their physical abilities.”
“If you’re interested in having a young athlete (say 10-12 years old) lift weights, it’s important to go about it in the right way,” says Dripp.
1. Think about the reason why you are having them doing a weightlifting program.
2. Consult a professional like a physiotherapist before starting.
3. Start extremely light and progress slowly – ligaments take far longer to catch up than muscles do.
4. Appropriate form and technique must be used at all times – this is not a time to focus on lifting as much weight as possible.
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