As the world of sports continues to focus on power and strength, higher expectations are being placed on young athletes. As a parent you may be questioning if your teen is too young to be worried about strength training. If done correctly, strength training can enhance physical and psychosocial development, improving muscular coordination and preventing obesity, diabetes and other chronic illness.
When is it safe for my child to strength train?
There is no set age when a child is ready to begin strength training. The main focus, however, should be on technique rather than the amount of weight lifted. A child should be able to complete eight to15 repetitions using good form before increasing weight. Your child should also have a medical examination by a primary care doctor before a strength training program is started.
Safe Strength Training
According to the staff at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine:
- A majority of injuries in the weight room occur when there is no adult supervision. A trained adult should always be present to supervise and assist with spotting.
- Teens should always warm up with at least 10 minutes of light aerobic activity and stretching. Riding a stationary bike, jogging in place, doing jumping jacks or jumping rope are good examples. When their weight workout is done, a similar cool down period should be completed.
- Teens should establish realistic goals, consistent with their physical abilities and emotional maturity.
- Specific exercises should be learned with no load. For example, teens can learn how to bench press using a light bar or broom stick. Once the form is mastered, weight can be added.
- A good strengthening program should address all major muscle groups and exercise through the complete range of motion.
- Your teen should be evaluated before continuing physical activity if he or she shows any signs of injury.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine is a one-stop resource for all of a young athlete’s health care needs. The program coordinates the services of various medical specialties—radiology, cardiology, pulmonary, rheumatology, neuropsychology, nutrition, physical therapy and education—to help prevent and treat youth and adolescent sports injuries.
Consult your primary care physician for more serious injuries that do not respond to basic first aid. As an added resource, the staff at Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine is available to diagnose and treat sports-related injuries for youth or adolescent athletes. Services are now available in five locations. To make an appointment, call (614) 355-6000 or request an appointment online.