Should My Child Lift Weights?

Feb 27, 2017

By: Penny Matel, B.S., R.D, CPT

With the high participation in sports-related activities, children and youth are eager to gain insight to strength training. Strength training programs are almost essential even for the child not participating in sports, but spends a lot of time playing outside. Strength training, also called resistance training, might involve the use of free weights, elastic tubes, weight machines, or your child’s own body weight. Done properly, strength training offers many benefits to young athletes. Strength training is also good for kids by putting them on a path to better health and fitness.  

Strength training may prevent sports injuries.

The American Academy of Pediatrics supports strength training for children and adolescents. It is recommended that strength training for kids 7 years and older is safe and may be an effective way to prevent some of the 3.5 million sports-related injuries to children each year. Regular participation in a strength program can enhance the performance of young athletes and reduce their risk of sports-related injuries. Strength training can enhance the bone mineral density in girls, decreasing their risk of developing osteoporosis.

Strength training is safe for children.

As with sports and other activities, there are risks associated with strength training. The key is to provide qualified supervision, age-specific instruction, and a safe training environment. Children should not use strength training equipment without supervision from a qualified professional.

Growth and Development

There has been no current evidence that strength training decreases the growth in children who regularly strength train in a supervised environment with qualified instruction. Participation in weight-bearing activities (including strength training) positively influences a child’s growth at any stage of development and will not affect a child’s genetic height potential.  There are guidelines that coaches, parents and fitness instructors must be aware of to decrease any inherent risk associated with strength training as with any fitness program.

For kids, light resistance and controlled movements are best, with special emphasis on proper technique and safety. Lifting heavy weights is not recommended for children which can put too much strain on young muscles, tendons and areas of cartilage that haven’t yet turned to bone (growth plates).

  1. Here are some benefits when done properly, strength training can do.
  2. Improve your child’s confidence and self-esteem
  3. Help your child maintain a healthy weight
  4. Strength your child’s bones
  5. Help promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  6. Improve your child’s body awareness, control and balance as early as age 7 or 8
  7. Increases muscular strength and endurance

If your child expresses an interest in strength training, check with your child’s doctor first to rule out any suspected or known health problem- such as a heart condition, high blood pressure or a seizure disorder.

Strength training is a specialized method of conditioning that requires qualified supervision, appropriate overload, gradual progression, proper technique and adequate recovery between exercise sessions. For more information on getting your child started on strength training program, see one of our qualified instructors who can assist with the guidelines and/or appropriate supervision. 

Southern District YMCA is a cause-driven organization that is for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.