Should Children Lift Weights?
Strength training is a way to build muscles and strength using free weights, weight machines, and rubber resistance bands, or body weight. Kids and teens may want to do strength training to improve sports performance, treat or prevent injuries, or improve their appearance.
There have been some concerns that strength training is not good for children who have not entered puberty. Studies have suggested that weight training might harm a child’s growth, lead to injuries or not increase muscle strength. But parents should not worry. Lifting weights can help kids as young as 7 years old.
What age should kids start lifting weights?
Around puberty, or 13-14 years of age, is a typical mark for youngsters to start lifting weights. I have trained kids from ages 9-12 in simple strength training like resistance bands, light free weights, and body weight exercises.
Strength training can help kids and teens build strong muscles. With a well-designed and supervised program, they can:
- improve overall fitness and sports performance
- increase lean body mass (more muscle, less fat)
- burn more calories
- make bones stronger
Results won’t come overnight. Eventually, however, your child will notice a difference in muscle strength and endurance — which might fuel a fitness habit that lasts a lifetime.
Focus on formulating a specific strength training program for the child, rather than focusing on anything even remotely connected to weight-lifting, bodybuilding or power-lifting. These specialized training systems can be used under correct observation once a child has reached puberty, and has developed a reasonable strength base – indeed, the focus should be on lighter weights and controlled movements, with a special emphasis on proper technique and safety.