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One question we often get from parents is whether or not their kids should be lifting weights.
This is certainly a legitimate worry as there has been quite a buzz surrounding the topic over the years.
Will it stunt their growth and damage their growth plates?
It is dangerous?
The short answer to these questions is no.
Let's get into why a well designed, age-appropriate strength and conditioning program is not only safe for our youth but extremely beneficial.
There are a couple flaws when it comes to the belief that lifting weights can stunt growth (damage growth plates) and is dangerous for children.
Our bodies, especially our bones do not mature at the same rate.
For example, your growth plate at your elbow can mature by the young ages of 10-15. On the other hand your clavicle and shoulder blade may not mature until you're 22.
If this is the case, should we keep our athletes away from lifting weights until their in their 20's?
In fact, injuries to growth plates come as a result of a trauma, like falling or the repetitive stress of athletics.
A well-designed strength and conditioning program can actually help bulletproof our athletes against these issues.
So, we now know a balanced strength and conditioning program won't stunt your child's growth.
The next question is whether or not lifting weights is safe for your children.
Did you know kids experience forces of 4-6x their body weight when they sprint and jump?
These forces far exceed any amount of weight they would be using during their training.
The key to keeping our kids safe in the gym is to make sure they are always supervised by strength and conditioning coaches and are completing exercises appropriate for their age and ability with proper technique.
To do this, our coaches make sure the kids we train can demonstrate the exercises with great technique and strength before adding weight to it.
We slowly increase the weight and intensity of each exercise overtime aiming for gradual progress , not max-out with poor technique.
So, when should kids start?
We start our athletes as young as 10 years old with a well-rounded training program that focuses on mastering the basics and having fun!
Now that we've debunked the myths surrounding kids and weightlifting, let's get into 4 reasons why all kids SHOULD be lifting weights.
1| Creating a healthy lifestyle
One of the great benefits of getting our youth involved in strength and conditioning at DSC is that it's a great way to set a foundation of lifelong health.
Not only do we teach kids how and why it is important to exercise, we also make it fun!
Providing kids the education on how to properly lift weights and exercise as well as making it fun and something they look forward to creates a powerful combination leading to longterm health and fitness habits.
This is what we are most proud of as coaches:
Helping kids, both involved and not involved in athletics, create a life of health and have fun doing it!
When it comes to running faster, jumping higher, a quicker first step, it comes down to force production.
How much force can an athlete apply into the ground with each step, in the shortest amount of time to get themselves moving?
The stronger an athlete is, the more force they will be able to apply and the faster, quicker and more explosive they will be.
Without lifting weights, athletes are only going to be as strong as their genetics allow.
By working on proper technique and slowly increasing the resistance on strength exercises like squats and lunges, athletes can gain a real competitive advantage over their competition on the field, court or ice.
3| Injury prevention
There is an epidemic amongst our youth athletics.
That epidemic is the rise in sport-related injuries.
Over 3 million kids under the age of 14 will be injured each year playing their sport.
These numbers continue to rise as our youth athletes are competing more and more, specializing earlier in one sport, while spending less time developing their strength, flexibility, body mechanics and fitness levels.
The good news is, a well-designed strength and conditioning program is the perfect way to bulletproof our youth against injuries.
Building strength, stability and muscle aids in helping to support various joints of the body against injuries caused by collisions, falls, landings and cutting during athletics.
Getting stronger is especially crucial for preventing lower-body injuries like ACL tears.
4| Boosts confidence
I still remember the day I fell in love with training.
I spent the summer training at an athletic performance center, getting ready for my first season of college baseball.
It was towards to end of the summer and I was taking batting practice and noticed something had drastically changed.
Everything about my hitting had changed.
The ball sounded different off the bat. It was hit drastically further and harder than it had been.
My hitting coach looked at me and said, "what have you been doing?!"
I knew then the hard-work I had put in over the summer was paying off and I gained a ton of confidence going into my first year of college baseball.
This is one of my favorite parts of coaching our kids...
Seeing them put in the work and watch themselves do something they once couldn't like bust out 5 chin-ups or push a heavy sled across the turf is something special and something they'll remember for a lifetime :)