May 26, 2011
Resistance training and kids is a contentious issue. Maurizio Guarrata and Dan Edelman offer some perspective from athletic training in Europe.
Youth resistance training has generated a lot of controversy over the years. Through the 1980s, the common wisdom held that youth resistance training was ineffective. In addition, a myth that weight training stunts children’s growth, typically seen as stemming from Kato and Ishiko’s study, persists even today.
However, over time, better-designed studies indicated that, indeed, strength can be increased in children and that resistance programs were not only safe but integral to children’s general fitness and sports performance. The wealth of empirical evidence specifying the positive impact of resistance training for kids has led many key authorities to come out in support of youth resistance training.
Safety is a critical dimension, no doubt, especially with respect to technique, but, again, practice and statistics show that when done with adequate supervision, resistance training with children and teens is relatively injury- and accident-free when compared to sports, while strength gains are genuine and help decrease the incidence of sports-related injuries.