How to Safely Start Resistance Training for Kids
In my first couple of months of working at the POWER Center, I have been training younger athletes.
Previously, pediatric resistance training was thought to impact children’s growth through training-induced cartilage damage. In recent studies, it has been found that through appropriately prescribed training programs with sufficient supervision, children have fewer, if any, lifting related injuries.
Overall, competitive lifting in youth has fewer reported injuries than other sports. Resistance training has been found to be safely initiated as young as the age of 6.
How to design pediatric resistance training
- Start with warmups. A typical program design for younger athletes includes beginning with foam rolling combined with a dynamic warm-up followed by speed and agility training and simple plyometrics.
These exercises create training adaptations that are specific to movement patterns, velocities of movement and forces that are demanded during their individual sports activities.
- Follow with weight training. These exercises are followed by weight training that starts simple in order to create a foundation for the young athletes. Some example basic exercises for these athletes include goblet squats, dead lifts, kettle bell swings, lunges and push and pull exercises.
During these exercises I make sure that the athletes maintain good posture with a neutral spine. It is important to recognize any compensations, especially in the lower extremities with a focus on dynamic valgus of the knees.
- Finish with stretching. Static stretching should follow each resistance training program for youth.
Benefits of pediatric resistance training
These include increasing muscular strength, power and muscular endurance, as well as potentially influencing many health and fitness-related measures.
Resistance training also relates to a decrease in body fat among obese children and adolescents.
Pediatric resistance training provides an opportunity and experience of success for all participants, no matter their baseline level, which allows them to feel good about their performance.
Potential risks and concerns for pediatric resistance training include repetitive soft tissue injuries, in particular in the lower back. Most of these injuries occur if there is a lack of qualified adult supervision, safe equipment and adherence to age-specific guidelines.
To safely include resistance training in your kids’ workouts, contact Sanford POWER.
Chaz Gunderson, CSCS