The old school of thought for kids lifting weights was that it should be off limits, since it was an injury risk. However, recent research counters this long-held thought process, saying that school-age children and adolescents can enjoy the benefits of strength training.
Experts say that the benefits of decreased body fat, increased bone density, and improved sports performance with limiting injury risk in those sports all generally outweighed any risks. And, it’s not just about lifting weights. Kids can do strength training using exercise machines, elastic bands or body resistance.
“Since resistance training in children and adolescents is known to be safe and to be associated with several health benefits, children and adolescents should be generally encouraged to participate in a resistance-training program,” said Michael Behringer from the German Sport University Cologne.
Behringer and colleagues combined the results of 42 unpublished studies to come to the conclusion that weights are a safe way for children to build strength. In most of the studies, the kids used either free weights or resistance-training machines from one to five times a week. They averaged 42 minutes for each workout session and the training lasted anywhere from one month to a little more than a year.
Most of the children improved their strength by 20 to 40 percent of where they started. The gains were best with those kids over 10 years old.
While this can be construed as good news, it is best to consult a trainer if you plan on allowing your child to take part in strength training. They, more than anyone, will be susceptible to improper form and a potentially dangerous zeal to lift more than they can handle.
October 28th, 2010