While kids do not pack muscular power in quite the same way as adults, a 2010 study by the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics in Cologne, Germany suggested that weight-training for children between the age of 7 to 18 is not only safe, but it can also be beneficial for performance and cognitive enhancement.
Children are capable of increasing muscular strength — but for the most part they are improving their coordination and muscle activation when weightlifting; So focusing on the amount of weight is not nearly as important as focusing on correct form and function. When done under controlled environments, strength training can increase bone, tendon and ligament strength – which in turn can reduce the risk of injury and improve sports performance in children.
In the past, conditioning experts feared that children were at an increased risk of injuring their growth plates when weightlifting. Thankfully, this does not seem to be the case. Weight lifting is a safe activity for kids to perform that does not increase their risk of injuring growth plates when performed in a controlled environment. With a well-designed and supervised program children as young as seven years old can safely perform strength training workouts to help improve sports performance, prevent injuries, and even boost self-esteem.
While weightlifting programs are generally safe for kids they should still be performed under an experts guidance and supervision. Trainers who work at school gyms should teach the kids not only on how to use the equipment safely but also how to maintain proper form, technique, the right balance, and control of their body.
Generally it is best to start of with body weight exercises. Once a child has mastered proper technique and can comfortably do between 8 to 15 reps repetitions with good form, then weight or resistance bands can be added into the training program. Of course, the amount of weight used will be contingent on a child’s age, size, strength, and endurance level, which is why the focus of each training session should always be on mastering proper form.
-Dr. Alex Tauberg
Dr. Alex Tauberg is a Pittsburgh Chiropractor who practices in an evidence based manner to get people out of pain and back to enjoying their active lifestyles. Dr. Tauberg has been certified by the University of Pittsburgh as a Primary Spine Practitioner, is a certified chiropractic sports practitioner, certified strength and conditioning specialist, and is an emergency medical responder. He is also the team chiropractor for The Pittsburgh Vengeance.