One of the most hotly-debated subjects in the fitness industry is children training with weights.
At one end, you have people arguing that weightlifting can stunt a child’s growth. On the other side, you have those that claim these dangers are only a direct result of lifting too much weight and/or using bad form.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Introducing a child to weight training too early can put them at risk, but this risk skyrockets with poor form or excessive loads.
So, when is the perfect time to start training with weights?
It’s a little different for everyone. The general consensus is that by age 13, a child’s muscles and nervous system have developed enough to warrant weight training. However, they should already have enough base strength to successfully perform ten pushups and overhead squats before thinking of hitting the weights.
Once your child satisfies these requirements, it is generally considered safe to introduce them to weight training. However, you can’t just bring them to a gym and let them have at it. Without proper supervision and instruction, children are very likely to injure themselves. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when your kid first starts lifting weights:
• Keep it light. As the old adage says, you need to walk before you can run. Start with light weights to develop the child’s muscles, and progress slightly every week to reduce risk of injury.
• Stress proper technique. Lifting with good technique is something that many adults struggle with; let alone children. If you can’t teach your child how to lift with strict form, seek a coach or personal trainer who can.
• Always supervise. Children should always be under adult supervision when they begin lifting weights. Ideally, the supervisor should be well-versed in the science of weightlifting themselves, so they can correct any mistakes they see.
If your child is too young to start weight training, they can still get their daily dose of exercise at Insports. As Fairfield County’s premier sports facility, we have instructional programs for children as young as two years old. Visit our website for a list of our award-winning youth instruction programs, or give us a call at (203) 268-1214.