Once a controversial topic, strength training within the younger population has been proven to be beneficial in a number of ways. There are several positive effects of strength training including, teaching the “mind to muscle connection,” improving coordination, and injury prevention. When done properly, young athletes can greatly benefit from a properly constructed strength training program. However, the right programming is essential to keeping kids healthy and injury free.
Most children have yet to develop muscular coordination and therefore will find it extremely difficult to maintain proper form under the stress of outside resistance. Free weights or machines may not be appropriate in many cases, this is where body weight comes into play. A proper program for a child should be comprised of several body weight exercises and avoiding complex exercises; meaning excluding those that involve lifting free weights in a complex manor. Body weight exercises are not only good to help build them a muscular foundation, but to help develop their coordination and highly mitigate the risk of injury. Risk of injury in young athletes is very high and this is frequently due to lack of muscular development which does not support their joints and ligaments. This injury risk can be prevented by starting to develop strength and sport specific skills at an earlier age. The following are some example of body weight exercises that may be appropriate to incorporate into an adolescent strength training program: squats, walking lunges, wall sits, box jumps, push ups, dips, planks, and/or leg lifts.
Not only will beginning an exercise routine early on help kids to develop muscular coordination and strength, but it will help them excel at their sport. The decreased risk for serious injury will give them a great foundation to further develop later into their teenage years.