Weight training can be beneficial in a number of ways. As well as improving muscle tone and helping your body to look more defined, weight training also helps to boost bone density, promote fat-free body mass and increase the strength of your connective tissues. As a result, a lot of people, and especially men, include significant amounts of weight training in their workout routines.
However, there is an ongoing debate in both the fitness and scientific worlds about how old adolescents should be when they start weight training. Some people believe that weight training can actually damage children’s bodies while others believe it can help boost strength and muscular development. So just what should you believe and how young is too young when it comes to weight training?
Adjusted weight training
If children under the age of 13 undertook the same type of weight training as adults, they could end up permanently damaging their bodies and even stunting their growth. This is because heavy weight training can cause bones to fuse prematurely, something that can restrict normal development in pre-adolescents.
However, if weight training programmes are adjusted to allow for the physical development of children under 13, they can actually be very beneficial. In general, the weights that children work with will be much lower than their adult counterparts and children under 13 won’t be deadlifting weights or doing other activities that could damage their growing bodies.
Studies have shown that pre-pubescent children respond differently to weight training and strength training than adults. Instead of bulking up and building muscle, their development tends to promote neuromuscular activation. This means that children who start carefully managed weight training from a young age can boost the connection between their nervous systems and their muscles, helping to make their bodies more efficient.
As well as helping to promote muscle development, weight training can also protect a child’s joints from injury, strengthen their bones and increase their endurance. This can help young people to excel in a range of physical activities and can make it easier for them to maintain a healthy weight, and a healthy lifestyle, in the future.
Though children under thirteen shouldn’t be encouraged to lift heavy weights or to push their bodies too far, taken slowly and carefully, controlled weight training can be very beneficial for children of all ages.