I have heard some concerns and confusion from parents about the proper age to begin strength training for their daughter or son. Everyone has heard horror stories of kids who started strength training at a young age and thus had negative effects on their health as adults. With proper guidance, strength training for young athletes and children, in general, can be very beneficial to their on-field performance and overall health.
We are going to cover three common myths associated with youth strength training and how Athletes’ Training Center is overcoming those challenges.
Myth #1 Strength Training is all about Moving Heavy Weight and Increasing Size.
When it comes to high school and collegiate strength training, this phrase is true: A part of those programs is to develop the athlete’s overall strength and power development. During the off-season of these programs, we want to make the athlete as strong as possible. This is true for experienced athletes who can handle that amount of load.
Youth strength training is a whole different ball game. When it comes to strength training for children who are prepuberty and beginners, a different tactic is used to produce strength gains. Youth strength training commonly uses body weight or light free weights, with an increase in total volume, i.e. increased reps per set. With the watchful eye of a certified strength coach, these moves are performed in a safe manner to eliminate the dangerous stress put on the body.
Myth #2. Strength Training Will Stunt the Growth of Young Athletes.
The only time this would happen is if the growth plates are affected during exercise. Again, with proper coaching and weight selection, growth plates will continue developing at a natural pace. In a 2009 literary review, the risk of injury during strength training for youth athletes was explored.
This review looked at a multitude of different training procedures and the injuries reported from those studies (Faigenbaum). The authors comment on the growth plate injuries as being caused by improper technique and loading procedures for the athlete themselves.
Myth #3. Strength Training is Dangerous.
Strength training, just like any practice or daily movement has a risk of injury. Just how we can stub our toe by getting up off the couch, tweak our ankle as we go for a walk or simply slip as we walk up our front steps; strength training safety all boils down to coaching and exercise selection.
To wrap things up, youth strength training is a very good thing for young athletes as long as they have proper guidance through a scientifically based and personalized program. In the study stated above, a very small amount of injuries were reported during the studies. At Athletes’ Training Center, we take on youth strength training in the safest manner.
We make sure the athletes are moving correctly before we load the movement, thus decreasing the risk of injury and establishing proper muscle control and memory to maintain safety throughout their athletic endeavors.
With strength training, the athlete can develop the proper strength and stamina needed to minimize this risk of injury. Our athletic development programs focus on meeting the goals of each athlete. We accomplish this by utilizing a comprehensive evaluation to gain valuable information to develop a custom program that is progressed to meet the athlete’s specific goals.
Written By: Trevor Krzyzanowski, BS, CSCS, USAW-1
Faigenbaum, A., & Myer, G. (2009). Resistance training among young athletes: safety, efficacy and injury prevention effects. Journal of Strength and Contioning.