Growing up, I remember hearing that I was going to stunt my growth if I lifted weights at a young age. As I have grown up, I continue to hear parent’s make comments about not wanting their children to participate in a training program, because they don’t want them to injure their growth plates. There continues to be this misconception that it is dangerous for children to lift weights and that it is going to lead to damaged growth plates.
The funny thing is, kids put their body’s joints through more stress when jumping on a trampoline, wrestling with their siblings, and playing sports, but we don’t second guess it, because we think of those as normal activities for kids to participate in.
Numerous studies have found that training will not increase the chance of growth plate injuries but will likely lead to more benefits for the kid than negatives. The big thing to remember is that training doesn’t mean constantly lifting weights and that it doesn’t have to be every single day.
Now, any form of training can become dangerous, which is why it is important that the training done is performed properly and designed by someone who has experience in the field of strength and conditioning, along with working with youth. It has been shown that it is safe for a 6-year-old to participate in a training program, as long as they are responsible enough to listen, follow instructions, and understand the dangers that can come into play with weight training.
So, why would I want my kid to participate in a training program?
A few of the benefits that an appropriately designed strength training program can have on youth athletes are:
- Stronger bones
- Increased strength, power, and speed
- A decrease in injury rates
- Improved body composition
Another benefit of introducing youth athletes to strength training is that it is easier to learn proper lifting mechanics at an early age prior to later in life. Teaching kids how to properly move, can both greatly increase their performance in sports and create a healthy habit of training throughout life.
Now the number one thing that needs to be remembered when introducing a kid to a strength training program is that they are still kids and they need to have fun. As important as early strength training can be for a young athlete, they still need to actively participate in play and perform activities in an unstructured setting.
If you think your kid would benefit from a strength training program, I recommend they:
- Find an experienced coach
- Get going sooner than later
- Make sure the kids are properly being coached to learn correct technique
Remember, it’s never too late to get started!