As strength training becomes more prevalent in our society, the question becomes “who should be strength training?”
While there is no simple answer to this question as a whole, the research shows that strength training among children and adolescence is quite beneficial to not only their physical health but also to their mental health and does not expose the child to any potential harm when preformed properly.
Unfortunately, years of faulty assumptions about risks associated with strength training have left quite a barrier to be broken.
Strength training can be a component of a balanced and healthy life when preformed properly and we should encourage youth to explore all of its benefits in a safe environment.
Strength training has been shown to have positive impacts on adolescence’s physical health.
Mayo Clinic notes that when strengthening exercises are preformed correctly they can increase joint stability, promote stable blood pressure levels, help to maintain a healthy weight, and improve confidence and self-esteem.
Helping children develop healthy habits in all areas of life at young ages will increase their likelihood of maintaining those habits, thus setting them up for a lifetime of success.
The physical benefits of strength training have become obvious through research but what about the mental benefits?
Tina Schwager, a certified Athletic Trainer and Physical Therapy Assistant with over 30 years of experience, says that the ultimate goal is to keep kids interested in fitness.
If strength training is fun for them, they will keep coming back to it which in turn helps to instill those healthy habits that should be adopted for a healthy lifestyle.
The benefits of strength training in youth have been clearly outlined so why is our society still hesitant towards this idea?
According to BMC Public Health the idea that strength training is damaging or harmful to kids can be traced back to the 70s and 80s when it was suggested that strengthening exercises could stunt growth development in children.
However, these claims have been found to be severely lacking in evidence and research. Strength training can pose a risk to one’s health but it is not a singular risk related only towards children.
In fact, anytime you engage in any form of physical activity you are at risk for injury. These injuries typically occur due to improper form or lack of knowledge of the exercise being performed.
It is important for us to distinguish that strength training and weight lifting are not the same thing.
Strength training exercises are exercises preformed against resistance: bodyweight, free weight, machine, etc.
Weight lifting is more competitive and encourages participants to lift heavier.
Adolescence should participate in strength training as it is generally safer and emphasizes form and technique over mass or volume.
I believe that strength training should be encouraged in youth.
Personally, I was not introduced to strength training until I was 15 years old and I wish that I would have begun sooner.
I’ve seen improvements not only in my strength but also in my self-esteem.
On days where I am stressed, I know that I have a fun workout that I can look forward too.
As long as you ensure that your child is receiving qualified advice on strength training, you can feel confident knowing that they are building a foundation for a healthy life.
We now know that strength training in adolescence is beneficial to their physical and mental health in multiple ways.
Instilling fitness into young minds will help establish healthy habits thus, benefiting them for the rest of their lives.
Encouraging youth to seek qualified advice eliminates any concerns related to injuries that they may obtain while engaging in strength training.
I would encourage parents to allow their children to pursue a fitness routine that allows them to feel accomplished and worthy because strength training can be a component of a balanced and healthy life when preformed properly.