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Myth Busters: Resistance Training for Kids

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Myth Busters: Resistance Training for Kids

You may have heard the age-old tale of ”children shouldn’t do resistance training because it’s bad for bone development”. Well, the dynamic team from STACKS is busting this ol’ myth. Here’s some of the myths and why they’re incorrect – in fact, this may begin their journey to holistic well-being.

Myth #1: Resistance training stunts a child’s growth

There is no scientific research that proves that participation in a supervised resistance training program will stunt the growth of children or damage developing growth plates. Childhood may actually provide the window of opportunity to engage in weight-bearing activities that will lead to enhanced bone mineral content and density. Regular participation in a well-designed and appropriately supervised resistance training program during the developmental years seems to have beneficial effects on bone growth and development.

Myth #2: Resistance training in all its shapes and forms is dangerous for children

Youth participation in resistance training is less likely to lead to injuries when compared to other forms of recreational or sporting activity. Although accidents can happen, it is key to provide qualified supervision in a safe training environment and to rationally progress the program based on resistance training skill, competency and experience. In addition, basic education on proper weight training technique, individual goals, and realistic outcomes should constitute the basis of any youth resistance training programs.

Myth #3: Children can only start lifting weights when they reach adolescents

Although research does not specify a minimum age for participation in resistance training programs, all participants should adhere to the instructions of a qualified strength-and-conditioning professional and follow all rules of safety. There are various examples in the literature where boys and girls younger than 12 years old have participated safely in supervised resistance training programs. Normally, at age 7, children are ready for a well-rounded fitness program, of which the foundation of resistance training is laid.

Myth #4: Girls will start to bulk if they train with weights

Training-induced gains in muscular strength during childhood are mainly caused by neuromuscular adaptations as well as skill development. Boys may develop slightly bigger muscles during the growing years due to the effects of anabolic hormones. Girls, on the other hand, can get stronger throughout childhood and adolescence without developing bulky muscles whilst gaining all the benefits of resistance training.

Myth #5: Resistance training is only acceptable for young athletes

Various observable health and fitness benefits are apparent with regular participation in an appropriately-designed resistance training program for all children and adolescents. Resistance training not only shows performance enhancement and injury reduction, but has also proven to improve musculoskeletal health, enhance metabolic function, and increase daily physical activity. Resistance training may be especially favourable for overweight children who are often unwilling and/or unable to perform prolonged periods of aerobic exercise.

(Authored by STACKS, 15 February 2019)


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Getting your children involved in an Actualise and/or STACKS programme near you may result in happier children with a desire to aspire! 

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A.D. Faigenbaum & J. E. McFarland, 2016. RESISTANCE TRAINING FOR KIDS. American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal, [Online]. 20(5), 16-22. Available at: www.acsm-healthfitness.org [Accessed 11 February 2019].

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