STACK Expert Allison Skufca offers advice and tips for successful youth strength training programs. Parents ask me this question all the time: “Should my child lift weights? If lifting weights means kids strength training training, and the child is around 10 or older, the answer is yes. Youth strength training does not mean lifting heavy weights.
It can include bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, medicine balls, dowel rods and light dumbbells. When strength training is supervised by a certified professional, it can provide huge benefits, not only for performance but for injury prevention as well. Youth strength training can start as young as 8, but most kids start at 10, when they have better body awareness and can follow directions well. When a young athlete begins strength training, he or she must focus on proper technique for each lift. It’s best to start with bodyweight exercises, then add resistance as the child gets stronger and improves his or her technique. In the article “Why Youth Strength and Conditioning Matters,” Rick Howard says it’s important for prepubescent kids to develop healthy habits for safe resistance training and focus on technical performance rather than adding weight.
As young athletes enter their teen years, they can place more emphasis on adding weight to develop muscular strength, as long as the weight is controlled throughout the entire lift with no breakdown of proper form. In the article “Strength Training: OK for Kids? Strength training in young athletes also helps prevent muscle and joint injury. How do you start a strength training program for young athletes?