Youth Training: Why weights are your friend!
There has always been the common question posed to coaches and parents when should a child start weight training?
This has been debated quite a bit as some people believe a child shouldn’t weight train until their 18 when they are finished puberty (for the majority of kids puberty would of stopped).
Some people say due to their sport they are introduced to weight training (at whatever age) so they can compete at a higher level/improve their performance.
Others when they hit a certain age such as 14 or 16 I have heard before. Just because a child or individual becomes a certain age they can just automatically be able to lift weights is just silly.
This is part article/part rant as I can’t understand why more people take part in exercise to further increase their lives and live a better/easier life!!!!
Our bodies are excellent machines and are designed to become even better machines through physical activity. If a child does no weight training or physical activity.
The reason why we use weight training as it is an outside resistance to our bodies to work against. We use this resistance to increase our muscle mass and our strength, endurance or power. No matter what you are training for by doing some form of resistance training will reduce the chance of getting injured as it helps to improve our biomechanics.
Weight training doesn’t stunt growth period!
In fact it does the opposite:
– strengthens ligaments and tendons
– increases bone density
– reduces the chance of osteoporosis in later life
– increase muscle mass
– increase in strength gains
– improved muscle tone/definition
– improved balance
– improved coordination
– improved functional movements/biomechanics
– reduce chance of injury
– increased strength of posterior chain
I have done weight training since 13 and swam since I was 7. I grew taller than my Dad and the majority of my family. I have gone on to do well in a range of sports and in each sport what was present some form of resistance training being water, body weight or barbells.
It isnt just weight training that promotes physiological/psychological benefits but regular physical activity does the following:
– improved sleep patterns
– increase self confidence
– increased life expectancy
– reduced chance of CHD (coronary heart disease)
– increase metabolism
– reduce body fat percentage and increase in lean muscle mass
This is just to name a few of the health benefits of exercising so why wouldn’t we allow our children to exercise and to use the weights room?
Reasons why people are against kids using the weights room?
– Fear of injury well anyone who does sport or training there is always the risk of injury. The likelihood that you will injure yourself in the gym is smaller than playing any contact sport. You are more likely to injure yourself in a competition scenario as you are pushing yourself to your own physical limits. Whereas in the gym you are unlikely to reach that.
– Weight Training Stunts Growth as I have mentioned above in my case it does not. Take a look at the Chinese and Russians. Serious training being done at a young age (think at primary school p6 and above) such as the Chinese and Russian weight lifters. Here is the successful Dimitri Klokov weight training in the sport of Olymlic Weight Lifting. Here is a video of him training when he was a kid
Then their are extreme examples:
Which I have mentioned such as the Russian and Chinese lifters. Take this one of a Chinese lifter aged 8 doing a 75kg clean and jerk. Excellent technique!
Another form of weight training is body weight training and this is done at a young age through the sport of gymnastics. Gymnastics is generally a younger age group of athletes especially for girls. This sport requires the athlete to have incredible balance, flexibility, mobility and strength to do such holds like the crucifix position or to swing from bars whilst somersaulting.
Swimming is body weight training but you are pulling against the water to move yourself. If you where to do one of the three (weights, gymnastics and swimming) pick swimming as it has great cardiovascular benefits, increases flexibility, increases strength and endurance. Can be tailored to a sprinter or a endurance athlete.
How to Combat this fear of Weight Training?
– Children should be educated on the fundamental movements such as squatting, dead lifting , pulling, pushing, jumping and running. All through primary school and continued/advanced upon in secondary school. This will set themselves up to have a good range of motion, good flexibility, reduced chance of injury, decent levels of muscular strength and endurance.
To sum up makes the long term of living easier and more enjoyable. By exercising young they know the benefits of it and are more likely to continue to exercise throughout their life.
– Parents should also be told why their child needs to have good range of motion so their son/daughter can live until their old without having poor flexibility and not being able to move.
– More children should be doing physical activity. We live in a soft society we have fast foods, instantly stream films, cars to take us places. Little manual labour anymore. The less physical activity a child does through their childhood/puberty sets their bodies up for a difficult future as they haven’t been stressed to adapt and function they way they where meant to.
– Government needs to take action and primary schools/secondary schools/ fast food. Encourage healthier meals which aren’t boring and are good value for money. Tax fast foods and reduce the cost of sports supplements to encourage more people to get involved in to fitness.
It’s good to see some people have a brain and are educating children on training at a younger age. Meet Jay Farrant PT at ABS Gym in Dublin.
https://www.facebook.com/JayFarrantCoach he runs the Junior Athlete Development Dublin for children. The page is linked here https://www.facebook.com/JADJayFarrant
If you want your child to get a head start on not being injured and have his/her fitness levels increased give Jay and the team at ABS gym a shout.
For those up North see Ally Cooper Sports Conditioning Exercise and Nutrition. Ally is the S&C coach to the Coleraine Academical Institution Rugby Team. He knows the importance of good resistance training especially in youth athletes playing a contact sport.
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