Child strength training beneficial or detrimental?
Youth strength training is often misconstrued and thought to be dangerous for children. However there is convincing evidence that strength training can be a safe, fun, and effective form of exercise for children, given the proper techniques and guidelines are followed.
The biggest misconception of youth strength training is that it will cause musculoskeletal injury. However, according to a yearlong study performed by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, in which sports related injuries in school aged youth were evaluated, strength training resulted in only .7% of injuries. Sports such as football, basketball, and soccer resulted in 19%, 15%, and 2% of all injuries.
Strength training within children also has no supportive evidence that it will stunt the growth of children or that youth cannot get stronger due to testosterone levels. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, strength training can actually help growth at any development stage as testosterone is not important for achieving strength achievements. Women and elderly experiences strength gains though they have little testosterone levels. Strength training in children is comparable to that of teens and adults.
As ACSM states, additional benefits of youth strength training include increasing bone mineral density in females, decreasing the risk of developing osteoporosis, and can motivate children to be active, healthy, and stay fit. Other studies also show that strength training can improve sports performance within children.
The key to making youth strength training beneficial is to provide a safe and fun environment for children with proper supervision. The athletic ability of each child is different so a training program should be designed for each child individually. They can progress at their level while learning about and maintaining the correct training form.