Strength Training: How Young is Too Young?
When a kid is seen at an adult gym, the perceived judgment by most people is “get this kid out of my gym, he’s going to get injured or hurt someone else” or ” what are they doing here, they haven’t even hit puberty yet.”
Strength training among young children has been a common controversy ever since the 1970’s when Japanese researches studied the height of juvenile children. They concluded that the kids were extremely short due to a substantial amount of physical labor and carrying heavy objects. The anecdote on this issue is people thought working out will stunt their growth because of potential tears to growth plates. If that was the issue kids and teenagers wouldn’t grown to their maximum potential height and could even develop abnormal development in the specific tendon. Another misconception is that working out wouldn’t even lead to muscle mass and strength because the lack of testosterone flowing through their body. In reality both views are speculation, in reality strength training is one of the most beneficial activities for kids who are athletes or not.
Kids can workout to, the only difference is there are more guidelines they must follow in order for it to be healthy and safe. If a kid wants to workout they must be supervised, taught proper form, use low weights or even objects like medicine balls or elastic bands, and go for high repetitions. The Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics studied over 60 years of children and strength training data from boys and girls ages 6-18. The results showed that the kids who worked out 2-3 times a week developed more muscle strength then those who worked out once a week. In a study composed in Clinical Sports Medicine they discovered a wide variety of benefits that go hand in hand with kids who are strength training at such an early age. The first thing is their bone mineral density will actually increase. This is important because it makes your bones stronger which will prevent future injuries especially osteoporosis. Now when that child grows up they won’t be as fragile and can actually absorb a fall or hit because their bones are a lot stronger. Strength training also benefits these children because their neuromuscular activation improves which means their motor skills will increase. When neurons are working simultaneously, their muscles and nervous system will work better which depicts a better athlete. Timing, speed, and reflexes ultimately improve which helps a kids in sports as well as in everyday life. If a kid is strength training they are usually a step ahead of their competition and are better prepared for the sport they want to excel in. This gives them the advantage in sports and will allow them to prosper in the sport they participate in.
There is a huge difference when a kid puts on strength than how an adult does. Since the bodies of adults are far more developed when they are working out and lifting heavy weights for a longer time period they are able to put on muscle mass and size at a fast rate, this process is known as hypertrophy. Exercises displayed by kids are much different, according to Dr. Feigenbaum, and it is more beneficial to use their own body weight by doing exercises like push ups, wall sits, and pull-ups or when they carry and manoeuvre every day objects. This doesn’t necessarily increase the size of their muscles but actually improves their strength. Being able to manoeuvre their own body weight is crucial for a young athlete because they become more flexible as well as adroit in any activity they do.
Not only is it healthy for kids to strength train but it is crucial for the development of their body as well as their nervous system. If they are exercising the correct way, following the recommended guidelines there is no reason why a kid shouldn’t be allowed to workout. The null hypothesis on this topic is it will destroy chances of growing to maximum height but there is no evidence detecting growth defects if a child is working out and training the right way.
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