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Strength Training for Children


Updated April 30, 2011

In the past few years, more children have been given the opportunity to engage in strength training. Many parents and coaches, however, are questioning the safety of resistance exercises for growing children. The latest research has found that strength training can be incorporated into a child’s fitness or sport-related exercise routine without causing injury or growth problems. However, a program must be compiled by a knowledgeable professional taking into consideration the proper precautions.

Research demonstrates that children as young as age six can benefit from performing appropriate strength training exercises. Children have made gains in strength and coordination with little risk of injury. According to Avery Faigenbaum, Ph.D., from the University of Massachusetts, whenever the children are emotionally mature enough to follow instructions and accept them is when they are ready to begin strength training.

Safety Issues
The following guidelines should be included into a program for youth strength training:

  1. Give children realistic expectations.
  2. Teach them positive lifestyle habits.
  3. Supervise technique closely.
  4. Give proper instruction and programming for upper and lower body exercises (i.e., bench press and leg press).
  5. Give proper instruction and programming for single and multi-joint exercises (leg curl and shoulder press).
  6. Allow gradual increases in volume and intensity, usually 1-2 lbs. increments.
  7. Systematically vary their strength training program for diversity.
  8. Encourage participation in a variety of sports and activities.

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