For years weight training has been a topic of discussion for today’s adolescent. This is due to the most common myth that early resistance training will stunt their growth due to damage of the growth plates that control the lengths and shapes of their bones. The issue with this is that weightlifting itself does not cause the damage, the damage to the growth plates come from improper form which causes undue stress to the growing areas. Take a barbell squat for example; the lift needs to be done correctly to assure the growth plates at the knees are protected. If the lift is done incorrectly there is a greater amount of stress directed towards the growth plates, which ultimately causes the damage. As long as the weightlifting movements are done correctly direct injury can be avoided.
Resistance training can have many benefits. The most important factor to consider is to make sure there is direct supervision and the adolescent is being taught the right way to lift weights. When proper mechanics are reinforced weight training will increase overall muscle strength, bone strength index (resistance to bending), and reduced fracture rate. Ironically, lifting weights can help reduce the rate of adolescents being injured when playing sports such as football, soccer, basketball, etc. A resistance training program will help increase their body control and movement as well. Most kids choose to lift weights because they believe it will make them better in their sports, which is true. Resistance training helps the adolescent increase his/her athletic performance by neuromuscular adaptation. These changes to the muscular system come from increased activation of our muscles motor units which aid in force production, strength, and speed. Aside from the muscular development resistance training can also help adolescents overall health and psychological health.
It is important for kids to ease into weight training. Most injuries occur due to improper form and too heavy of weight. The fundamentals always need to be taught first; essentially we are building from the ground up as they say. Before one needs to consider adding weight to the bar perfect technique must first be conquered. It is always important to build a “base” before a resistance training program can be administered. The best way to do this is to begin with body weight exercises such as pushups, air squats, or explosive squats. Not only will this help develop a sense of awareness with their body but it will help them gain an initial level of strength before moving on to weight training.
If we look at the benefits first, with direct supervision and correct form the rewards outweigh the risk. If your child is looking to get ahead of the curve in their sport it may be time to consider a resistance training program.
Smith, Jordan. “Health Check: Should Children and Adolescents Lift Weights?”.The Conversation. Retrieved from : https://theconversation.com/health-check-should-children-and-adolescents-lift-weights-54888
By: Dustin Oliver