Weightlifting for children and adolescents

15 11 2011

There are many varying opinions on what is the right age to begin lifting weights. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), lifting weights with a sound technique can strengthen ligaments and tendons, and improve bone density. Under proper supervision, lifting weights can begin as young as age 9.

Weight-Lifting Effects

Muscle fibers are broken down during weight training sessions. Strength and muscle mass is actually gained between the rest and recovery stage that occurs after your workout. Many professionals have expressed concerns that weight lifting at a young age can damage growth plates and stunt the physical development of youths. Growth plates are areas of growing tissue found along the bones of youngsters. According to the the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no evidence that a strength training program can hinder linear growth in youths. In actuality, strength training can prevent children from suffering injuries and accelerate their recovery time if they do get hurt.

Safe Weight Lifting

The body of a young adolescent has not entirely matured. Therefore, to establish a safe weight-lifting regimen for youths, emphasize light weights with high repetitions. Dr. Wayne Yankus is a renowned pediatrician based in Midland Park, NJ. Dr. Yankus states that a pre-pubertal male child can lift weights of 3 to 5 pounds or less with approximately 10 repetitions. However, at such a young age, he urges children to avoid benching, squatting or working on a nautilus fitness station. Lifting light weights with high repetitions will tone, strengthen and enhance the overall physical performance of youths.

Unsafe Weight Lifting

An adolescent that lifts heavy weights is susceptible to straining muscles, fraying their cartilage and inhibiting their bone growth. Hence, it is essential that children avoid lifting heavy weights at too young of an age.

Ages 9-12

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports strength training for kids. Children between the ages of 9 and 12 should focus their efforts on resistance bands, light free weights and body weight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups and dips.

Ages 13-14

At the age of 13 or 14, adolescents can begin to devise a more stringent and demanding workout routine. However, youths should still avoid lifting heavy weights. Lifting light weights with high repetitions will prove to be a secure and beneficial method of strength training.

Ages 15-16

Once children become 15 or 16, they can start participating in more hardened forms of exercises like bench presses, overhead military presses and squats. However, just because youths are now old enough to lift heavier weights, they should not hoist anything without correct fundamentals and form. Lifting weights is dangerous and, if children engage in strength training without taking precautions, they are liable to suffer serious injuries.

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