One of the most common concerns I hear about kids participating in weight training is that it is unsafe and will stunt a child’s growth. As a parent, I understand these reservations, but I also think it’s important to set the record straight. The truth is, weight training is safe and good for kids when it’s done properly. Weight training is one of the safest activities for a young athlete when taught correctly, having only a 0.0035% injury occurrence rate according to USA Weightlifting. In fact strength training adolescents correctly can actually lead to quite the opposite of stunting their growth. What can stunt a child’s growth are coaching mistakes, lack of education, human error, not understanding movement patterns or mobility, and injuring a child.
Once children have mastered basic movements like push ups and assisted pull ups, they are ready to progress to basic weight training, using multi-joint, compound exercises to start out, and emphasize form rather than the size of the load. The most important motivating factor for kids (and adults) in strength training is FUN.
Parents are often unaware of the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends strength training for children ages 8 and older. Research suggests that kids who are stronger and more conditioned perform better in school and are less likely to engage in unhealthy activities. Strength training has also been linked to improved athletic performance.
Many parents find strength training to be a real game changer for their kids, not only in terms of athletic performance, but also when it comes to confidence, focus, and happiness. You may even find your kids are capable of more than you realized!