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Strength Training for Kids?

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For years now the fitness industry has warned parents against starting their child too early in strength training.  The concerns were injury, stunted growth, and bone growth plate damage.  According to a new position stand, there is no evidence of these adverse affects, and in fact, it is believed that strength training may enhance muscle development, improve bone density, body composition, and even lipid profiles in youth.  The authors of this new position stand (the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology) suggest age 7 or 8 as a general rule for starting an adolescent on a strength training program. 

The program prescription is very similar to that of a general program for adults – eight to twelve exercises targeting all major muscles groups, 1-2 sets of 8-15 repetitions using a light to moderate load.  Warm up and cool down periods, stretching, and periodic variations in the program are also recommended. 

As a parent, this topic is definitely of interest and is likely best considered on an individual basis.  Every child matures and grows at different rates, and kids these days can be involved in such a different array of activities.  It’s wonderful to think that we can get kids started with this habit at an early age, but on the other hand we should caution against pushing children to the extreme – at some point we have to remember, they are just kids. 

 

Source: ACSM’s Certified News.  April-June 2011.  Volume 21: Issue 2

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