Weight training is associated with numerous benefits for adults. However, the question of whether children should engage in weight training is a hot debate. Determining whether children should start weight training depends on the advice you get. It also depends on the depth of knowledge of weight training.
Most people including those in the medical fraternity hold that pre-pubescent children should not start weight training. The rationale for this argument is that weight training leads to premature bone fusion and consequently leads to irreversible stunt growth.
Additionally, the hormones and body structure of children are not ready to handle the stress that results due to weight training. If children engage in the same strenuous and high-intensity training as adults, they may experience these negative effects. However, there can be special weight training programs meant specifically for children.
The great idea is to develop special strength training for children that would benefit them. This fact proposes that your child should not be subjected to high-intensity power-lifting, bodybuilding, and weight-lifting. When developing a weight training program for your child, you should focus on lighter weights and controlled moves. Even after developing a custom program for your child, you should monitor them during each training session. Monitoring the child ensures safety as well as proper training.
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Guidelines for Child Strength Training
- Strength training should only be a part of the child’s exercise regime. This guideline suggests that children should also engage in other activities such as sports and play. Weight training should not be used to substitute these exercises.
- A child should not engage in maximal or near-maximal lifts. The ACSM recommends that children should lift light weights and high repeats rather than lifting heavy weights.
- You should supervise your child in all training sessions.
- You should implement the appropriate safety measures to prevent overuse injuries. The type of safety measure that you establish should be specific to the weight training that you adopt for your child.
What Benefits Do Children Get From Weight Training?
When contacted properly weight training can offer children various benefits. Training sessions for children should be supervised, censored, and free from competition. The session should only focus on offering the child benefits. If your child adheres to the guidelines proposed by NSCA and ACSM they may realize these benefits.
- Strong bones
- Protection of the joints and muscles linked to other activities
- Better cardiorespiratory function
- Improved performance in sports and other exercises
- Increased muscle endurance and strength
Weight Training Guidelines for Children
Apart from the suggestions offered by NSCA and ACSM, you should consider the following guidelines when considering weight training for your child.
- Ensure your child masters the basics of the weight training program. Focus on one or two movements at a time. Let the child practice the movements until they have fully mastered them. You should not overwhelm the child with numerous movements since they tend to forget and it can result in injuries.
- Training your child to combine moves. After your child masters the basics, train them how to combine various movements. However, ensure the child combines the right movements and continues training them until they can do it correctly without instructions.
- Do not expose your child to most gym machines. Gym machines including leg press, chest fly, and leg extension make the children work through unnatural movements. They are also strenuous and can impact the child negatively. Thus, instruct your child to stay away from these machines.
- Keep track of the weight as your child continues to master weight training. You may be tempted to load excess weight since your child has mastered the basics. Remember heavyweight can harm your child even when they have mastered all the basics. You will want to avoid injuries at all costs when your child engages in weight training. Remember to adhere to the rule of lighter weight with many repeats.
- Try different training equipment. Since your child is not ready to choose the kind of equipment they want to train with, simply try different machines. You will want to try only the machines that are of low intensity and cause no harm to your child.