Already, I feel some of you taking deep intakes of air through clenched teeth
"Let kids be kids", "You'll damage them", "You'll stop them growing!".
The myth of resistance training for kids being bad is one that needs to die out, along with your face sticking that way if the wind changes and saying 'bless you' when you sneeze to stop your soul escaping.
So, why is strength training for kids such a controversial topic?
Here are some of the most common concerns which parents (or just people who like to be offended) have on the subject.
- Growth stunt -
There is actually zero evidence that backs the the claim of growth stunt in children due to resistance training. There were a very few studies in the 70’s and ‘80s which reported negative effects, these were eventually proved to be due to bad technique and going too heavy, too often.
Lifting in a controlled environment didn’t hurt kids; bad technique hurt kids.
This was the summary of this study:
- Lifting will make my child move slower and more bulky - Ok, lets explain this one quickly and in a simple way.
Let’s think of sports where physical speed is king:
100m sprint - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.
American football (receivers) - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.
Olympic weightlifting - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.
Gymnastics - what do the athletes look like? Jacked and lean.
Strength training doesn’t slow you down. Strength training creates a foundation to express more power.
One of my favourite strength quotes is: "You can't fire a canon from a canoe!"
Meaning, without a solid, steady foundation, you can't have full expression of power output.
Increased risk of injury - My favourite. There seems to be a real problem seeing kids pick up and carry kettlebells, pick up dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls….all things that are DESIGNED to be picked up, by the way, but the same parents don't seem to have a problem with kids giving piggy back rides, play fighting, climbing walls, or playing contact sport.
A carefully organised resistance programme is actually reported to REDUCE the risk of injury in youth sports. As reported in this study:
Lifting in a controlled environment, with a knowledgable coach doesn't hurt kids.....bad technique and old fashioned 'character building' beasting sessions, hurts kids.
PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD, with the emphasis on PROGRESSIVE, is a key principle of strength. Age doesn't change the principle, only the application of it.
Parents must take responsibility to be well informed when making decisions on their child's sport participation. This means more than just reciting old myths that have no substance.