Isn't weightlifting dangerous for kids?
Youth training has been the subject to copious amounts of research over recent years, with many scientists studying safe training levels, optimal loads, injury risks and many more factors. The old myth that children shouldn’t lift weights has now been conclusively debunked, with both the UK and USA strength and conditioning associations putting out position papers stating their support for youth weightlifting when done under supervised conditions and ensuring solid technique.
What we don’t want to do is load dysfunction on an immature skeleton, but not loading dysfunction is a training no-no we should all be avoiding anyway. When you consider what a child does in their “natural habitat” such as a playground, it is not uncommon to see kids jumping off metre high slides or swings then jumping off at the top and sprinting off. These are all highly intense landings, some being pretty advanced plyometric movements!
All these landings elicit loads significantly higher than body weight. Weightlifting introductions will place significantly less stress through a child's body than these activities.
How can I start weightlifting training with my kids?
Introducing your kids to weightlifting should always be done under the guidance of a strength and conditioning professional to ensure they learn the skills correctly. Many gyms now offer parent and child training sessions with weightlifting incorporated into those sessions; these can be a great way of training together.
During these sessions things to look out for are a coach who’s session size does not exceed 3 or 4 kids to ensure proper supervision of technique, and also that the coach has appropriate accreditation, preferable with the UK strength and conditioning association (they will have ASCC after their name).
The benefits of youth training
Research has shown that children who frequently train demonstrate higher levels of self confidence, and ongoing longitudinal studies are seeming to suggest lower injury rates amongst childhood weightlifters in late teenage years.
So enjoy some screen free time with your kids and get training! Enjoy it as an activity you can do together and watch them flourish.