How young should you start?

Strength training for children has been considered a taboo and most of the misconceptions stem from worried parents. Their anxiety is justified as they want the best for their kid and it doesn’t fill them with confidence when they hear myths such as “Weight training stunts growth in kids.” Or “Strength training is not safe for kids.” But kids CAN DO STRENGTH TRAINING. The latest research shows that strength training in kids can not only enhance general well being but also increase their performance in various sports. With growing concern about childhood obesity, parents need to ensure kids are involved in physical activities and strength training can be one of them.

A Composite Youth Model was drawn by Llyod et al. (2015) which establish an appropriate progression of skills specific to foundational motor skills, muscular strength, psychomotor ability and sports specific skills from the ages of 2 till 20. These are divided into 3 phases based on maturity level and explained as follows:

1. Age 2-4: This phase is characterized by kids learning just the fundamental motor skills and developing the neuromuscular pathways needed to coordinate movements. These can achieved through simple activities like bouncing a balloon from one hand to the next, throwing and catching.

2. Age 5-12: You can start with basic strength training in this phase. In addition to that, participation in multiple sports can lead to improvement in agility, strength, flexibility as well as social skills. Parents should avoid concentrating on just one sport as this may lead to boredom, repetitive motion injuries and eventual burnout.

3. Age 13-20: This is when adolescents can start getting into more advanced and structured forms of strength and conditioning training. The skills and good habits learnt in this phase will carry over into adulthood. Therefore it is necessary to establish the correct attitude towards exercise.

Technique, Safety and Progression

These three aspects should be of importance when teaching kids how to perform strength training.

Technique: Teaching the proper technique and form should be the main emphasis of trainers and practitioners as improper technique can lead to injuries. Also age-appropriate exercises should be chosen which progress from body weight exercises to multi-joint movements. Machines should be avoided as the work done is through unnatural movement patterns which have little carryover to daily activities and sports. Instead medicine balls, bands, wobble boards and free weights should be included in the workout as they focus on stability and key motor skills.

Safety: Supervision and instruction from a certified strength training coach is imperative to safety and well being of the child. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that in settings with supervision and proper technique, weightlifting injury rates are lower than injury rates from other sports or from recess at school.

Progression: Poor form and excessive loading are the main reasons for injuries among kids. Kids aren’t miniature adults and so the reps and sets should not resemble what one would prescribe an adult. The primary goal is to keep the repetitions higher and sets lower to create muscle memory. Once the child has got the form down to the tee, you can increase the weight and add additional sets. As a general rule start with a resistance that allows 12-15 reps with perfect technique and then add a 2nd set, working up to a maximum of 3 sets as strength and endurance improves.

Why choose X-FITT Junior for your child?
Another key facet of strength training amongst children is enjoyment. The environment has to be fun and welcoming for kids to learn and develop. Working out in a traditional gym with other adult members can be a lonely and daunting task for kids. At XFITT, we ensure the environment and exercises are fun and enjoyment based. And as they are working out with other kids it’s a great opportunity to make new friends and get fit at the same time. We believe that one size doesn’t fit all and that’s especially true for kids. Training is individualized by our certified trainers to ensure safety and appropriate progression.

Enquire Now