Build a Stronger Kid: Lift and Learn

Weight Lifting/Strength Training - When is it safe for young people to start? Or is it safe at all?

You can’t be soft your whole life especially when you are young person who wants to feel confident and comfortable in your own skin as you grow into a teenager and then into an adulthood.  There is an age old question that goes back as far as I can remember, I tried to find out where or who came up with this myth and google failed to give me the definitive answer. But that is not important, what is important is that we are going to look at the benefits of learning to lift by briefly looking at the process of LEARNING to lift weights, which is based on two important principles. The first principle is developing the young person’s Relative muscular strength, which learning to perform basic body weight movements like a push up, body weight squat, and a lunge Pull Ups etc. with proper form and body control. In my training program we then progressing to using limited resistance equipment like dumbbells, rubber bands and tubes, and some resistance machines if you have access to them, with minimal intensity (light weight) to start. Developing relative strength varies and depends on the commitment of the individual youth, and their parents. After a solid foundation of relative strength has been developed, start  developing their Absolute muscular Strength. This is when Free weights and resistance machines are added to the training program, examples of Free weight movements are:

High School and College Athletes At the AP Training Facility in Orlando Florida

High School and College Athletes At the AP Training Facility in Orlando Florida

  • Dumbbell and Barbell Bench Press

  • Dumbell and Barbell Squats

  • Trap Bar and Barbell Deadlifts*

  • Olympic Lifts*

    * High Skill Lifts - require additional Skill development

With that said in my professional and personal experience learning to lift weights is essential to the development of young people. And in the case of developing youth athletes learning to lift correctly and consistently will help the youth athlete take their game to another level and possibly improve their productivity on the field or court of play. Weightlifting will also improve the confidence, and self efficacy, definition: the ability to produce a desired or intended result in young people, which in turn fosters discipline. So now I will address the age old myth that I mentioned earlier in more detail which is the myth that lifting weights “too early” will lead to stunted growth or injury for young people.

This is a false statement and has lead in my opinion a few generations of adults that have no clue of the benefits of weight lifting until they are in their 30’s or even 40’s, which has lead to an avalanche health problems over the past three decades such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression to name a few. Now let’s look at the benefits of learning to lift weights and participating in a resistance training program.

Coach E. Allen’s Top 5 ten Reasons Why Learning to Lift Weights Early… and often is great for Youngsters! 

#1 Increase Bone density

        Which helps protect from injury and provides a foundation for a health skeletal system

#2 Improved joint health-Strong Ligaments, Tendons and cartilage

          Which is important for youth athletes

#3 Improved Neuromuscular conditioning

            Which is essential to improving body control, reflexes, and endurance

#4 Improves Strength Balance as the body changes and grows 

            Strength imbalances Anteriorly(front) and Posteriorly (bank) are a major cause of mobility and stability issues as the body develops and grows. i.e. ACL injuries-

Check out the AP ACL infographic

#5 Increased Muscular size and Strength

Which is the #1 reason most young people want to lift weights, this is where self confidence and performance is improved.

A complete training program create by a certified experienced coach/trainer should also include mobility and flexibility component, this will be an added benefit to the program and prepare the body to train progressively and helping to decrease the risk of injury while maximum effort work which I will expand on in future posts.