At What Age Should Youths Begin Strength Training?
Strength training is an invaluable tool used by many professional athletes, and it can create long-lasting benefits for your child as well. Kids can start participating in strength training as early as 7 or 8 years old, improving their overall health and wellness while also learning valuable lessons in the process.
What is Strength Training?
Not to be confused with weightlifting or bodybuilding, strength training focuses on technique and light resistances to achieve long-term results in power and endurance. Developing muscles and tendons can be damaged by lifting weights that are too heavy, especially when proper form isn’t being observed. Strength training comes in many forms, such as:
- Lifting free weights. Regular sized weights are safe for kids, as long as they are light enough.
- Using weight machines. Look for machines with low weight options that can be lowered to your child’s height.
- Utilizing body weight. Strength training can even take the form of simply doing push-ups or planks.
Benefits of Strength Training
Beginning strength training at an early age can have a variety of benefits for your child, helping them look and feel their best. Some of these benefits include:
- Increasing strength and endurance
- Improving performance in sports and activities
- Making muscles and bones more resilient to sports-related injuries
- Building confidence and self-esteem for better mental health
- Maintaining a healthy weight with more muscles and less fat
- Developing techniques and proper form
- Teaching self-discipline and independence
When is it Time to Begin Strength Training?
Although every child is unique, most youths are able to begin strength training by the second or third grade. By this time, many children have begun participating in sports or other athletic activities and are already developing skills such as balance, form, and self-control. As long as your child is able to follow directions and can perform exercises safely by this age, they are ready to begin strength training!
When starting your child on a strength training program, it’s important to recognize that their needs are vastly different from those of an adult. Remember to focus on form and technique, as well as how to safely use equipment. While personal trainers can also be a great asset for your child, be sure to look for certified experts who specialize in working with children and teenagers.
Keeping Strength Training Safe for Kids
When done correctly, strength training is perfectly safe for a child’s growing body and can even aid in their development. Just like with any physical activity, however, accidents can happen. You can help keep your child safe from injuries by:
- Consulting with a pediatrician. It’s a good idea to check with your child’s doctor before beginning any strength training program, especially if your child has any conditions that could be triggered by physical activity, such as asthma or high blood pressure.
- Warm up and cool down. Always begin and end any strength training session with five to ten minutes of light cardio, such as walking or jogging, as well as some stretching. This increases blood flow and helps get your child’s body ready for more strenuous activity.
- Don’t leave your child alone. Make sure your child is supervised by an adult who is experienced with strength training to ensure they stay safe and practice proper form.
- Keep workouts light. Until your child gets older, building muscle should never be the goal of strength training. Use light weights and perform short sets of 10-15 repetitions.
Strength training is just one part of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet, plenty of water, and an hour or two of physical activity each day will ensure your child grows up feeling stronger and more confident in their abilities!
Personal Strength Training Programs From Matawan Physical Therapy
Matawan Physical Therapy is your ultimate sports conditioning and rehabilitation center. Our youth sports program and individualized strength training and conditioning programs can help children and teens of any experience level with their fitness journey. Call us at (732) 970-7894 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.