Strength Training for Kids and Teens
Strength training for kids and teens is such a controversial topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject and regardless of the evidence of the benefits of strength training for kids and teens, there are just some people who believe that kids and teens should not lift weights. At Furnace our Kids CrossFit Program will only allow you to start training once you reach the age of 7 to 8 years old (depending on the individual child) .
We run strength training as part of our CrossFit Kids and Teens programs as there is overwhelming evidence to support the benefits. I’d like to start by saying outright that this does NOT mean that we load your kids up with heaps of weight and make them do dangerous lifts. Its quite the opposite. CrossFit Kids HQ and CrossFit Furnace’s methodology of strength training involves utilising body-weight exercises and free weights to build strength, improve muscle tone and enhance performance. This means that your child may start with a PVC bar or 500gm weight held in the hand. We believe in using the smallest stimulus possible to achieve the training effect desired. Due to kids still-developing neuromuscular systems, they receive a positive training effect from sub-maximal efforts. This is done with fun being at the front and centre of the programming as well to keep them interested in training.
Increasing the loads quickly should never be the focus of training with younger children (7yrs + at Furnace) or for any child or teen who has not had previous specialised training in lifting, as strength gains at this age are neurological rather than a result of hypertrophy. Getting children to train at low weights for multiple reps allows a psychological pathway for good technique to develop. A properly managed program with gradual increases in weights is also paramount for the safety of kids during strength training. It would be dangerous and irresponsible for any Coach to run a program that does not respect this.
While teens can increase loads at a faster rate once they hit puberty, the advanced program still has safety and correct technique at its centre. Gradual exposure to 5RM lifts and 3RM as a teen develops their skill with multiple submaximal lift sessions in between to perfect technique, yields far greater results long term than exposing them repeatedly to excessive loading during training. While this can be frustrating for some teens who may see other athletes in class lifting heavier, it’s a hallmark of a good Coach to be able to keep a teen interested during this time and keep them on track for their own progress. While it can be challenging to “reign in” teens who want to lift more too quickly with bad form, it is vital to their long term success that this balance is maintained.
Some of the main benefits of including strength training into your childs and teens CrossFit program include:
- Increasing your childs muscle strength and endurance when they are active with other sports, therefore increasing their performance. This is just as relevant regardless of the sport your child plays. It could be anything from Badminton or Squash through to Judo, Football or Surfing.
- Increases bone density and helps prevent muscle and ligament sports related injuries.
- It increases kids and teens self confidence and self esteem when they master new skills.
- It can help maintain a healthy weight in kids and help prevent childhood illnesses related to being overweight such as Type 2 Diabetes.
If you would like to know more about our CrossFit Kids and Teens Program at CrossFit Furnace, Head over to Our Kids and Teens Page. You can also contact us or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0401348080. Enrolments are now on for the Term 3 Program.
- Hatfield, Disa. USAPL, powerLINES. www.usapowerlifting.com/newsletter/15/features/features1.html. “Getting Strong Safely: Considerations for Youth Strength Training,” October 2003.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/bone/Bone_Health/Juvenile/default.asp. “Juvenile Bone Health.” August, 2002.
- Westcott, W. & Faigenbaum, A.D. www.ssymca.org/quincy/str_train_youth_fitness.htm. “Strength Training For Youth Fitness.”.