I’ve heard that strength training is not good for kids. Is this true?
Once upon a time this may have been true but there are many studies that actually state the opposite. Strength training programs that are supervised, safe and age-appropriate can be invaluable.
First of all it is very important to understand the difference between strength training, weightlifting, bodybuilding and power lifting.
Strength training, when done correctly, includes a carefully designed program of exercises to increase muscle strength and endurance.
Weightlifting, bodybuilding and power lifting usually involve some sort of competition with heavy weights and bigger muscles. This can actually put too much strain on muscles and growth plates resulting in more long-term damage.
Strength training is NOT about lifting the heaviest weights. It is about teaching teens body awareness. This includes proper posture, body alignment, body confidence and making them feel strong from the inside out. There needs to be tremendous emphasis on proper technique and safety.
Strength training not only utilizes weights, it can include a combination of free weights, selectorized machines, resistance bands and individual body weight.
Strength training can actually be a GREAT way to get kids into exercise. Kids who aren’t naturally athletic may be easily discouraged because they can’t easily run 1 mile or get out of breath playing basketball. That is where strength training can be a great way to get kids into a fitness regime. With strength training, kids can gain confidence relatively quickly along with a myriad of health benefits. As Arianna Neikrug, a 15 year old female who attends Hamilton High School says “strength training alleviates mental stress and pain. It makes me feel as if my mind and my body are “one”. After strength training, I feel accomplished and refreshed. I do it because I get such a whirl of relief afterwards. It’s an instant remedy for everything.”
Benefits include muscle strength and endurance, injury prevention, enhanced performance and body mechanics, stronger bones, lower cholesterol and, most importantly, fitness habits that will last a lifetime. “Strength training makes me feel good because then I know that I am getting stronger for many different activities. I do it to get in better shape and for fun” says Lucas Snyder, an 8th grader at Lincoln Middle School.
It is so important, however, to have a trainer work with your teen to design a program that works for him/her and make sure that the exercises are being performed correctly. It is not a one size fits all formula. Benefits are best achieved when strength training is incorporated into fitness routine 2-3 times per week.
Britney Bland-Junior @ SAMOHI
When did you start exercising/playing sports?
I was always really athletic and sporty when I was little and I started playing softball when I was in 5th grade. However, I quit this year as a junior because I feel I need to concentrate on my academics and getting into University.
How do you stay fit?
Even though I don’t play sports seriously anymore, I still workout on the weekends and sometimes play catch with my dad at the park. I also do hula every Saturday and surprisingly, it really works out your legs!
What inspires you?
I think that my entire family as a whole inspires me because they all support me in everything that I do no matter where they are. My family is all over the world so I get different opinions and advice from everyone.
How has fitness helped you in other parts of your life?
It keeps me in really good shape and I feel really good about myself when I can go to the beach and show off my two-piece with out getting self-conscious like I used to be. To me staying fit is a real confidence booster and you know that you’re staying healthy and helping your body live longer.
How does your family’s health and fitness affect yours?
My dad eats a lot of junk food but my mom and little sister don’t. I guess it’s a girl thing in the family. But I really try to get my dad to eat healthier and stay healthy without me or my mom (or my little sister even) to remind him to stay healthy. But my family is really fit for the most part. We all love playing sports and competing against each other to see who can do better. It’s our family competition.
Karen Jashinsky is the founder of O2 MAX-a fitness network for teens that teaches teens how to integrate fitness and nutrition into their day to day lives while preventing injuries and empowering teens to lead healthy and fit lifestyles. The O2 MAX training studio is based in Santa Monica. To receive her newsletter or contact her she can be reached at info (at) o2maxfitnes (dot) com. Or through her website & blog: www.o2maxfitness.com <http://www.o2maxfitness.com>