If performed properly, strength training offers many benefits for young athletes. Strength training is also a good idea for kids who want to look and feel better. In fact, strength training can even put your child on a positive path to better health and fitness for their entire life.
Light resistance and controlled movements are best. Emphasis should be placed on proper technique and safety. Children can do many strength training exercises with his or her own body weight, or resistance bands. Free weights, and machines are other options, but they come with increased risk of injury.
Don’t confuse strength training with weightlifting, bodybuilding, or powerlifting. These activities are largely driven by competition, with participants are attempting to lift heavier weights, or build bigger muscles than those of other athletes. This can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons, and areas of cartilage that haven’t yet turned to bone (growth plates) — especially when proper technique is sacrificed in favor of lifting heavy weight.
Strength training can increase your child’s muscle strength and endurance, help protect your child’s muscles and joints from sports-related injuries, and improve your child’s performance in nearly any sport, from dancing and figure skating, to football and soccer.
Keep in mind that strength training isn’t only for athletes. Even if your child isn’t interested in sports, strength training can strengthen your child’s bones, help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help your child maintain a healthy weight, and improve your child’s confidence and self-esteem.