Strength Training For Kids – Is it Safe?

Justin Stribling Profile

Strength training, when done properly, offers many benefits to young athletes and kids who want to look, feel, and perform better in their chosen sport or in life in general. In fact, strength training can help put your child on a lifelong path to better health and fitness.

Don’t confuse strength training with weightlifting, bodybuilding or powerlifting. These activities encourage one to lift heavy weights to build bigger muscles. Weightlifting can put strain on young muscles and tendons that haven’t fully developed or turned to bone yet (growth plates).

For kids, light resistance and controlled movement (under supervision of a Certified Sports Conditioning Coach) is recommended. It’s at this young age that proper form and safety techniques are developed, which carry through to adulthood.

What are some benefits of strength training?

  • When done properly, sports conditioning programs can increase your child’s strength, agility and endurance.
  • Pre and post-season clinics and camps help protect muscles and joints from potential sports-related injuries.
  • Improve your child’s overall performance, help them meet or even exceed “personal best” goals, and advance in skill in their chosen sport.

Even if your child is not interested in sports, strength training can help with the following:

  • Strengthen bones
  • Promote a healthy lifestyle
  • Help maintain a healthy body mass index
  • Improve self-esteem and confidence

Sports Performance training is ideal for children of any age. Since many school-aged children begin playing more competitive sports around second and third grade, most pre-season strength and conditioning camps are well-suited to athletes as young as 8. So long as a child can follow directions and practice good form and technique, they will reap the many realized benefits that year-round conditioning offers.

Although results don’t happen overnight, parent and children alike take fast notice of marked improvements in muscle strength, endurance, mood and confidence, which can help them excel in their sport or just feel more healthy and alive.  Any way you slice it, Sports Performance is a win: win game.

If your child is interested in beginning strength training we would love to invite you to try our Fall Pre-season Sports Performance Camp, beginning July 6th and running until mid-August. Give us a call at 609-880-0880 or visit www.fitherapy.com.

FREE Intro Strength & Conditioning Class for Youth & High School Athletes on 7/2!

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FIT will be hosting a FREE introductory class to demonstrate what our Fall Pre-season Strength & Conditioning Summer Camp has to offer! Parents and athletes are welcome to attend and bring friends! The FREE Youth trial for athletes, ages 8 to 12, will take place this Thursday, 7/2 from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm and the FREE trial for High School Athletes, ages 13 to 18, will be the same day, from 7:15 pm – 8:15 pm. Tell all your friends and family that have athletes and are looking to get in shape before the fall. Pre-season training starts this week!

Register online and we’ll save you a free spot!

Email us if you have any questions about any camps. See you there!

The Truth About Strength Training for Kids

by Eric Cressey, as featured on www.ericcressey.com, December 7, 2009

A while back, I attended a seminar in Houston, and while the primary topic was how to improve pitching performance, one of my biggest takeaways was with respect to adolescent physiological development.  Long-time Phillies rehabilitation consultant Phil Donley presented some excellent data on when bones actually become skeletally mature.  The next day, another speaker made a what was, in my opinion, an uninformed comment about how kids shouldn’t strength train at young ages because it would stunt their growth.

Let’s start with Donley’s very intriguing numbers (which have actually been available in the literature for over two decades now); we’ll stick with the shoulder girdle just to keep things to-the-point.  In a baseball population, the epiphysial plate most commonly injured from throwing at the shoulder is located at the proximal humerus (Little League Shoulder); this physis (growth plate) accounts for about 80% of humeral growth, and matures by age 19 in most folks.

We’ve seen a lot of kids come through our door with this issue because of throwing (internal rotation of the humerus during throwing is the fastest motion in sports) and even some traumatic falls – but I can honestly say that I’ve NEVER seen one from strength training.  So, anecdotal evidence for me shows that strength training for kids is far from what could be considered “dangerous” for developing bones.

Now, here’s where it gets more interesting: bone maturation isn’t uniform across the body.  While the proximal humeral growth plate might mature at 19, the distal (down by the elbow) physis is finished between ages 10 and 16.  The proximal and distal radius plates might mature anywhere between 14 and 23.  Meanwhile, the clavicle matures at ages 22-25, and the scapula generally matures by age 22.  How many of you have ever heard of a college football being held out of weight training for all four years of his participation because all that bench pressing might stunt the growth of his clavicles and scapulae?  It just doesn’t happen!  In reality, we know that the strength training benefits of increased muscle size and strength actually protect him from injury on the field.

In other words, violent (throwing) and traumatic (falling) events far exceed any stress on a young athlete’s bones that we could possibly apply in a strength training setting, where the environment is controlled and overload is gradually and systematically increased over time as the athlete becomes more comfortable with it.  I’d make the argument that a young athlete should start resistance training as early as his/her attention span allows for it; the emphasis, of course, would be on body weight exercises, technical improvement, and – most importantly – keeping things fun.

If you really think about it, an athlete is placing a ton of stress (4-6 times body weight in ground reaction forces, depending on who you ask) each time he/she strides during the sprinting motion.  Kids jump out of trees all the time.  They lug around insanely heavy backpacks relative to their body mass.  Performance, general health, and self-esteem benefits aside, it’s only right to give them a fighting chance in trying to avoid injury.

Also, another great point Phil made (although it was on an unrelated topic, it pertains to us) was that as an adolescent athlete grows, his center of gravity moves further up from the ground.  This is a big part of the “lapse” in coordination we see in kids during their growth spurts.  A little bit of strength goes a long way with respect to maintaining the center of gravity within the base of support, and makes an athlete more comfortable “playing low” (hip and knee flexion) to bring that center of gravity closer to the base of support.

All that said, appropriate resistance training is not only safe for kids; it’s also tremendously beneficial.  In a review just published by Faigenbaum and Myer, the authors concluded:

Current research indicates that resistance training can be a safe, effective and worthwhile activity for children and adolescents provided that qualified professionals supervise all training sessions and provide age-appropriate instruction on proper lifting procedures and safe training guidelines. Regular participation in a multifaceted resistance training program that begins during the preseason and includes instruction on movement biomechanics may reduce the risk of sports-related injuries in young athletes.

Dr. Avery Faigenbaum has actually published a ton of great research (including position stands for numerous organizations) on the topic of strength training for kids in recent years; you can find all of it by searching for his last name at www.pubmed.com.

In the meantime, I hope this blog can help to eliminate the gross misconception in the general population that resistance training can’t be beneficial for children.  When performed correctly and made fun, it is safe and provides tremendous benefits to kids in both the pre-adolescent and adolescent stages.

“Rep your Selfie” Contest!

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Instant 10% CREDIT on your next month and a chance to win a FREE MONTH.  Sounds great?   Then, take part in our “Rep your Selfie” contest!

Rules:
To enter, pick up your lawn sign from us today! Place it on your lawn and then take a selfie with it. Post your selfie to your Facebook Page or Instagram account and FIT’s  Facebook Page or FIT’s Instagram account- make sure you use ‪#‎getFIT‬ in your post!!

Pictures must contain:
-You ✔
-FIT lawn sign ✔
-Muscles ✔
-Awesomeness ✔

Deadline for posting is June 30, 2015.  10% will be automatically credited to your account once photo is posted online.  Winner of free month is based on the most number of Likes of the post by July 5, 2015.  Winner of free month Get flexin’ and snappin’!

Now Accepting Registration for FIT’s 2015 Fall Pre-Season Strength and Conditioning Camp

FIT Sports Performance will be running a six-week Fall Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning Camp in our state-of-the-art facility beginning July 6th, 2015.  This camp is designed for young athletes ages 8 to 18 who wish to develop and improve strength, speed and agility in the forthcoming football and soccer season this Fall.

Classes will be held Mondays through Fridays at various times, based on age and sport, from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Each class is a 1-hour instructional session supervised by a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach which includes strength training, speed and sports-specific agility drills.

  • What: Sports specific strength training, speed and agility drills
  • Who: Youth athletes, ages 8-18
  • Where: FIT, 11 Cadillac Road, Burlington Township
  • When:
    • July 6th through August 15th
    • Weekdays – Monday through Friday
    • Various 1-hour classes running from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm
    • *Although not exclusive, it is encouraged for kids to attend classes assigned for their age group.
  • Cost: The cost for the full six weeks for each athlete is as follows with appropriate discount based on the number of committed classes per week.  We encourage for parents to sign up 2 kids or more from the same household as there is a an automatic 5% discount for the succeeding kid signed up.
    • $72 – 6 sessions ($12/class)
    • $137 – 12 sessions (5% off)
    • $195 – 18 sessions (10% off)
    • $254 – 24 sessions (12% off)
    • $306 – 30 sessions (15% off)

Monday

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday

Friday

5-6 PM Y SoccerY Football Y SoccerY Football Y SoccerY Football Y SoccerY Football Y SoccerY Football
6-7 PM HS SoccerHS Football HS SoccerHS Football HS SoccerHS Football HS SoccerHS Football

HS Soccer

HS Football

* HS: High School, Y: Youth

Camp is limited to ten athletes per class and is offered on a first come, first served basis, and slots fill quickly. Click on the desired number of camp sessions below to register today (you will be taken to a separate page under Rhinofit, our online membership account system) or call 609-880-0880 for more information. You may also email us with any questions or concerns about the program.

Select your preferred program cost below:

 Sessions HS Football Youth Football HS Soccer Youth Soccer
6 $72 $72 $72 $72
12 $137 $137 $137 $137
18 $195 $195 $195 $195
24 $254 $254 $254 $254
30 $306 $306 $306 $306

IMPORTANT!

On the Billing Information, type the athlete’s name (NOT the parent’s name).

Please note we only take Visa, Mastercard and Discover credit or debit cards (NO American Express).

Calendar to reserve will be available in your newly formed account (via RhinoFit).  Account can be activated through a separate welcome email.  Please follow email instructions.

There is a 5% discount for each succeeding kid signed up.  Discount applies to lesser or equal value.

To register more than 1 athlete, simply choose the number on the drop down and fill out the form.  If  you already have an existing account, choose that option instead.

We are looking forward to working with your athletes and helping them get FIT!

About the Coaches

Dan Cain is a Strength and Conditioning Coach.   He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and a biology major at SUNY where he played Division 3 soccer throughout college.   Dan has the experience as an athlete and the scientific knowledge in improving athletic performance of athletes of all ages and levels.
Lawrence Ramiscal, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist that treats a variety of sports related injuries.  Lawrence is also a USAW Sports Performance Coach and a CrossFit Level 1 Certificate holder qualified to train athletes of all levels in a variety of sports.