Should my child be lifting weights? When do I put them in a strength program? Let’s go ahead and clear the air about the topic of lifting weights and strength training!
The short answer right off the bat is YES! Regardless of the sport or even if they have no desire to play sports at all your child should be involved in some type of strength training program. It’s fascinating to me how strength and conditioning programs have gotten a negative vibe over the years…
My goal here is to shine some light on the topic and the importance of what benefits it can provide for your child in the short term as well as the long term. Obviously if you know me, follow my content or have read any of my blogs I will support this from both physical and mental benefits.
So, let’s start with a simple question:
If your child gets hurt in a sport or on the playground, regardless of their age what are the appropriate steps to letting them back up to “full speed” again?
In a short answer it’s rehab and they do primarily two things:
- Getting Range of Motion Back
- STRENGTHEN the area of the body that was hurt
Hmmm….interesting, we do not question Billy or Susie knocking out some squats or shoulder presses then…
Maybe it’s not a terrible idea to have them strengthen their body and minds year around!
Let The Madness Begin
I could give a laundry list of reasons and explanations as to the importance of lifting and strength programs for your child. Rather than bore you to death I will give you a broad overview of four important reasons to implement strength training for your child…
Reason #1: Physical Health
I know know, this sounds so obvious and maybe you have heard it a dozen times from others. But, I want to look at it from a slightly different angle…
Many parents do understand at the surface level the idea that strength training is important for their child’s health. It helps reduce injuries and with a program designed for them it will increase their level of performance within their sport.
Let’s take a dive a little deeper into the injury topic…
I have worked with athletes ranging from 5 years old through the professional level and truly understanding the importance of keeping your kids safe will most likely have you sign your child up for strength training today!
For the much younger kids it’s all about body control and body awareness. I always say they are like the newborn giraffe to teach them how to walk, talk and chew bubble gum at the same time. This age can actually be the most important.
Often kids get hurt at this age because either themselves or someone else is out of control. Depending on the type of sport whether it’s more individual or team focused.
Do they understand their bodies enough on how to jump and land properly, can they move laterally, how are their hips – can they bodyweight squat with depth. What do their push ups, sit ups or pull ups look like…Such underrated exercises by the way…
And yes it is ok to put a 5lb or 10lb MedBall in their hand to perform exercises or use a resistance band to train!
When parents ask “Are I sure it’s ok to carry a 10lb Med Ball, my response back is always…”
“Would you mind your 8 year old carrying in the groceries or your 10 year old pushing the lawn mower? Does it bother you if your kid climbs trees? (pull ups)”
A little lifting, as long as they understand their body will benefit them! That’s why the right coach is important for your child.
Because I have seen it time and time again when the really talented 15 year old comes in the gym but does not understand their body yet. They begin a little frustrated because they see they are doing the same movements and exercises as the 5 year olds…
But that foundation is critical. If they had started a little earlier chances are they would have progressed past this.
Then comes the Middle School and High School Athletes…
I will shoot it to you straight!
It is critical that every athlete is involved in a strength training program NO MATTER YOUR SPORT because this is when kids are really growing, maturing and going through puberty.
Kids’ bodies are changing and evolving. It does not matter if you play football, gymnastics, basketball, wrestling or Golf!
I get the argument all the time that strength training is not for our sport…
Well let’s break that argument down. Not only are you growing, your sport is becoming more demanding. The level of competition is increasing. You are training more than you did in youth sports…
And then on top of that so many young athletes are fighting for starting roles OR even more intense they are fighting for college scholarships!
Your body needs to be able to withstand the constant pounding!
A quality strength training program is not there to run you into the ground. That’s what coaches with an ego do.
There is a time to push athletes but the primary reason for lifting programs for these athletes is to keep them healthy to within stand the increased intensity. Then as a byproduct their performance will increase as well.
As I mentioned in the last blog, look at some outliers in athletes like Tiger Woods (Golf) and Michael Phelps (Swimming) who have strength training programs!
Reason #2 Mental Health
Lifting weights and Strength programs boost your self-worth and confidence!
We all love to look in the mirror and genuinely love ourselves. We like to feel comfortable in our own skin…
Actually that is one of the biggest struggles kids are fighting today. Young adults are more unsure of who they are. They are living in fear. Fear of being judged or accepted.
I don’t want to bore you with all the chemical releases that strength programs do inside your body, but you walk away from a training session feeling good about yourself.
Feeling like you accomplished something. The interesting piece of this puzzle is it’s the athlete’s from sports that “typically” do not lift weights get the biggest boost in their confidence.
In the last few years in working with many gymnastics and cheerleading athletes, after just a month of training they have a new energy about them…
They enter into strength programs with the mentality they will not pick up anything more than a 10lb dumbbell in fear of “bulking up”…
After a few weeks of realizing they do not have Arnold gene’s they begin loving lifting with the barbell and plates…
And it usually stems from one random friend saying something to them like “Girl your arms look good” haha…
Talk about a boost in confidence for a middle school and high school athlete!
Reason #3 Progress is Happiness
One of the most wonderful feelings is to watch friends, family or most of all your kids set goals and crush them!
We all like to feel like we are moving towards something. That is one of the quickest ways for people to die both physically and emotionally. When individuals lose a sense of fighting or progressing towards something a meaningful life becomes dull.
I have seen strength programs utilize this in many different ways.
First, it goes with reason number two above about building their child’s confidence and self-worth. Yeah, they might play a sport but they want to see their kids out there playing with zest, energy and confidence.
Who cares whether they are starting varsity or not, it’s about having the belief in yourself to make the most of your opportunities. Taking Risks and playing fearless. Fearless of what others will think or say depending on the outcome.
That confidence spills over into their leadership of the team. Maybe they are not the “star” player but that boost in confidence will bring loads of happiness.
I have also seen these used as purely strength, fitness and wellness goals. Kids have goals to squat a certain number, bench press so many reps, pull ups or even something as small as winning a race in the gym against someone.
As kids progress towards something that’s meaningful TO THEM their energy and joy skyrockets.
Lastly it can be about actual performance within their sport. With the right strength program it can boost performance helping them crush their athletic goals. It can be something as big as getting an athletic scholarship to wanting to crack the line-up for their team.
I have seen this do wonders for kids of all ages!
Too often as teachers, coaches and parents we try to force OUR goals on our kids subconsciously. We think we know what’s best for them not realizing maybe they want something different!
I love when kids have the courage to come in and make themselves vulnerable to tell me about why they are looking for a strength program and it’s something as simple as they want to be involved within a tribe, group and community!
Live for something! Strength programs allow you to set and crush goals. Progress is happiness!
Reason #4 You Can Lift Year-Round
I am a believer that kids are specializing in sports far too early. For reasons beyond me parents think it’s going to help their child. The truth is though physically, mentally and emotionally it’s having negative effects on most kids.
Strength Programs are one of those outliers that you can do and should be involved within year around. At the most basic level it’s good for your health!
I mean you don’t eat “healthy” for 3 months and expect to achieve wellness for the majority of your life…
Well I take it back our society keeps falling for the 3 week crash diet…Sorry I had to haha!
Seriously though the right strength coaches should know your needs depending on where you are. There are different phases throughout the year that are all important…
GET THIS…There are phases where it’s a little more laid back and should not be at full intensity throughout the year.
It’s ok and should be made fun! The kids that I see year-round inside the gym genuinely look forward to being there. It’s not a “job”.
And primarily because they understand many of the above reasons. They like to feel healthy, love the boost of confidence (even if it’s just looking in the mirror) and enjoy moving towards a goal!
And That’s All Folks
I do not want to get too granular inside each reason. I think from a birds eye view you can see or maybe stop and think about why lifting weights is important.
Let’s get away from the idea that it’s going to make everyone MASSIVE, BULKY or HUGE!
We are all in there for different reasons. That’s the beauty about strength programs, it’s there for you to determine where you want to go and what you want to get out of it!
Take your child for a month and see what you think!
I think you will find the experience wonderful!