Children’s bodies are constantly growing and developing, all at different stages of their childhood and some more rapidly than others.
As kids become teenagers and their hormones really start to kick in we can see huge developments in their height and size, sometimes seemingly overnight.
As it is with adults, It’s important that children and teenagers are exercising not only to keep healthy but to develop the necessary strength and stability to support their growing bodies. It’s also important that they learn and become efficient in the primal movement patterns such as squatting, lunging, hinging, pulling, pushing, rotating, and gait (walking/running).
It’s an old wives’ tale that weight training stunts the growth of kids. Weight training for kids isn’t an unhealthy or unsafe practice but we should be asking if weight training is necessary for each child and if it fits into their needs, goals, and stage of development; some kids will be more developed than others and ready for this type of training.
Personally, I think kids should be encouraged to be active in as many different sports and activities as possible growing up before turning to structured weight or resistance training. This is much more beneficial for their development not only physically but mentally too.
In saying that weight training does have its advantages and will really help strengthen muscles and soft tissues, stabilise joints, support good posture and develop efficient movement patterns which all lead to improved performance and decreases the risk of injury.
Introducing weight/resistance training should initially start with bodyweight exercises. Starting with low intensities and higher volumes, 1-2 Sets of 12-20 reps. The use of resistance bands and lighter loads is then a great way to first progress them when they are ready. It’s important to focus on compound movements instead of isolation and avoid higher intensities/loads.
Kids and even Teenagers need to earn the ‘right to progress’ before advancing with their weight training. This means once they can perform an exercise unloaded with good stability and control, they can incrementally progress their volumes, intensities, and exercise selections.