Almost everyone agrees that tailored strength training is beneficial, whether you’re in your 20’s right through to your 70s. Despite this, one group of individuals are ‘safe-guarded’ from strength training… children and adolescents. But are these worries misguided? 💭
This myth seems to have stemmed from a study in a remote area of Japan, which found that children who performed heavy labour for several hours per day were shorter in stature. From this, it was deduced that any form of loaded activity could stunt childhood growth.
However, research conducted over several decades has dispelled this myth, providing no evidence of stunted growth or damage in otherwise healthy children. In fact, resistance training appears to be of significant benefit for bone growth and quality in both children and adolescents. 💪
Children as young as six years old participate safely and effectively in strength training programmes, with injuries reported during strength training typically caused by factors such as misuse of equipment, inappropriate weight, improper technique, or lack of qualified adult supervision.
Moreover, strength training does not always need to involve external load. Bodyweight training can be highly effective and allows children to master movement patterns before progressing to heavier loads once they have become accustomed to body weight. Besides, the forces that a young person’s body encounters when jumping and landing, as is often the case when playing, are far higher in comparison.
Just because a child is maturing, this doesn’t change the beneficial impacts of exercise. Childhood could be the best time to start as strength training in adolescents consistently improves physical function, reduces chronic disease risk, and improves self-efficacy, self-esteem, and academic performance.
With childhood obesity and mental health disorders on the rise, strength training is therefore an excellent option among many exercise modalities to help mitigate these risks. 🙏
What are your thoughts on children and strength training? Share below! 👇