Strength Training 101 for Kids:
There is a struggle between when to start kids on strength training to improve their sports performance, and when to not start kids. We all are loving parents and want our kids to do great in the sport that they love. So naturally we want them to get better and better so they can take the sport to whatever level their heart desires. But the path to improvement is a tricky one, one that without proper guidance can do more damage than good. Here are the guidelines to helping your child grow the proper way and not inhibit their growth inadvertently.
Below 10 years old, you never want to have your child lift weights of any kind. A medicine ball is fine, but definitely no weights and machines. This is their development years of their brain coordinating muscular neurons that tell their arms and legs how to move and run for a sport. This age range is best to work on technique, speed, and agility. Our bodies are awkward as we grow and the brain has a lot to handle to coordinate the foot to kick a ball, or hands to catch/throw a ball. Adding weights and strain to those muscles during this period is completely unnecessary.
Children ages 10-15 have a different challenge ahead of them. This age range is typically our “growth years”. Puberty, height, foot size, etc all change during this age range. Through these changes we want to focus on single leg stability, lateral and rotational movements, and bodyweight exercises. Bodyweight exercises are great during this time frame because it is enough weight to build muscle, but not too much to compress your discs in your spine or the cartilage in your knees. Pullups, pushups, single leg lunges, squats, wheel barrel walks, handstands, abs, running, sprints and swimming are all great workouts/exercises. When you start to add weight to your squats, start to do barbell bench press, or other weighted exercises you impact your joints when they are their most vulnerable. With improper form and technique this can do long term damage to the body, which is the last thing any of us parents want for our kids.
Kids age 15-18+ are in the age when weights start to become important. You usually finish maturing in size around the age of 16, so with moderate lifting and proper coaching, you can really peak at your performance and get ready for the next level [college/pro]. For anything upper body you want to stick with dumbbells, bands, and bodyweight. This will teach your brain to coordinate the proper strength through your core to your individual arms. When you are using a barbell for upper body you are putting more strain on your rotator cuffs which will weaken them since they are 70% more prone to injury than any other ball and socket joint in your body. You can use a barbell for lower body exercises but to go light and maintain proper form. Too heavy and you strain your transverse abdominals, your knees, and your spine. You only have 1 spine, so when you mess it up that’s all that you get. A better approach would be to use dumbbells because you wont have that strain being exerted onto your joints/spine.
In conclusion – you kids can always get faster and stronger. You just want to make sure that you are doing it to their benefit and not to their hinderance. That’s why Next Level hires the best trainers/coaches in the area to ensure our athletes are properly prepared for their sports and ready to dominate on the competition!