So what is Strength Training?
If there was a definitive phrase to encompass what the generalised term of Strength Training is then this little piece from Rhodri S. Lloyd in his book Strength and Conditioning for young athletes does as fine job as i have ever seen…
‘Strength training is a general term concerned with regular exercise used for enhancing strength and strength related characteristics, such as muscle hypertrophy (building of muscle), maximum force production, strength endurance, rate of force development, power and speed. Strength training can involve bodyweight, exercises, resistance producing devices, such as stretch bands, or various machines, free weights or combinations of all of this equipment. Strength training can be part of an overall programme for health and wellbeing or part of the training for sport.”
In short Strength training is awesome and incorporates many different fitness qualities that can lead to any young person partaking in it living a better quality of life.
Common myths surrounding Strength Training
Before I talk further into why strength training is awesome, I would like to write a few bits on the misconceptions behind lifting weights at a young age.
Misconception 1 – Weight training causes injury.
It is of common thought of many adults that exposing a younger person to lifting weights will cause them injury. In fact in a lot of places it is common to find access to gym facilities restricted until an individuals is 16-18. In modern research completed on injury type and injury rates associated with strength training among youth and adults are less common than in sports such as football and rugby (Hamill, 1994; Stone et al., 1994). Any injuries are generally a result of poor programme design, poor technique or lack of qualified supervision.
Misconception 2 – Weight training stunts growth
Another common misconception is that weight training stunts the growth of young people. This is simply not true. Weight training sensibly using correct lifting techniques will not have any negative effects on a child’s growth. No significant research has ever shown this to be the case.
See these studies for yourself on injury rates and on effects on growth…
Reasons why young people should participate in Strength Training
- Fit kids are happier and healthier. In a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, this topic was examined in depth. The study found the less aerobically fit the children were, the less happy they reported being. Kids who were less fit were also more likely to engage in activities that were bad for their health (eg smoking), and less likely to eat well. Performing some kind of physical exercise can have profound effects on the psychological well being of young people such as improved self confidence, self belief, improvements in social interactions and greater senses of achievement.
2) Lifting weights or Strength Training has been shown to improve athletic performance in kids.
Here is a study comparing groups of kids performing a strength training program designed to improve performance in football. The group that performed a strength programme alongside their normal training showed marked improvements in fitness qualities important in football performance.
The National Strength And Conditioning Association (NSCA) current position on strength training for kids.
Finally to close our reasoning of why young people should lift weights here is The National Strength And Conditioning Association (NSCA) current position on strength training for kids.
From this paper here are the 7 key findings (some are very similar to ones mentioned above).
- A properly designed and supervised resistance training program is safe for youth.
2. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can enhance the muscular strength and power of youth.
3. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve the cardiovascular risk profile of youth.
4. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve motor skill performance and may contribute to enhanced sports performance of youth.
5. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports-related injuries.
6. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help improve the psychosocial well-being of youth.
7. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help promote and develop exercise habits during childhood and adolescence.
I hope you enjoyed reading over some of these common misconceptions and benefits of strength training for young people.
If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me further.