Building a strength training program for children can be one of the best ideas a parent or coach comes up with. A strength training program for children will increase self-esteem, improve overall health, strengthen tendons, improve coordination, and better them at sports.
But with all the news about children and steroids one must ask themselves…are we going too far? Is it safe for my child to participate in a strength training program?
Generally speaking, yes. If your child is old enough to walk, run, and understand the rules of organized games or sports, then your child can benefit from strength training.
Let’s take a look at exactly what strength training is and is not, what things you need to know, and get some expert advice on building a strength training program for children.
What Exactly Is Strength Training?
Strength training is simply training the muscles and the body to take on loads that are higher than normal. In plain terms, it develops strength and builds the muscles and body so it can adapt to everyday tasks.
There is a HUGE difference between strength training and bodybuilding or power lifting. The main goal in both bodybuilding and power lifting is to lift a high amount of weight for sport recognition or to bulk up the physique.
A strength training program for children should not include any heavy lifting and it should not place emphasis on physique.
So What Exactly Should You Know Before Building a Strength Training Program For Children?
You should know the following:
Work all the major muscle groups
Incorporate body weight exercises such as the push-up, squat, sit-ups, etc
Make the focus about proper form and technique
Only after your child has passed puberty, should they even consider adding some bulk to their body. Even at that point, do the research and get professional advice.
* You are their best example
I spent some time at www.kidshealth.org doing research for this article. I am not an expert on building a strength training program for children. I work with athletes and adults. That site will give you more info than I ever could. Below is a quote that I found, and I believe it sums things up perfectly-
“Children today are watching 25 hours of TV a week, they’re spending hours and hours on the computer, physical education is still seen as an expendable part of the school curriculum, and childhood obesity is at an all-time high. The Physician gives them the OK to play sports, but many are not physically prepared.” – Avery Faigenbaum, EdD, CSCS, assistant professor in the Human Performance And Fitness Department at the University of Massachusetts- Boston.
As a trainer I must agree with Avery Faigenbaum. Building a strength training program for children is a very positive life experience. The positives outweigh the negatives. Just be sure you have consulted with the right people before building a strength training program for children.