Developing The Perfect Kids Fitness Program
The commonly held belief that strength training for kids is dangerous to the growth plates is simply not accurate provided that appropriate guidelines are followed with respect to, specifically, exercise execution. In fact, improved sport performance, increased muscular endurance and enhanced bone strength are all likely benefits of resistance training for children.
More over, an increased need for correct kids fitness programs due to the rigors of a typical soccer, football or baseball game place far more of a strain on the structures of kids than does a well-executed lift. In fact, Mel Siff in his book Facts & Fallacies of Fitness suggests that “stresses imposed on the body by common sporting activities such as running, jumping and hitting generally are far larger (by as much as 300%) than those imposed by Powerlifting or Olympic Lifting.”
The real crux of this issue stems from the argument of which type of resistance training is most safe or suitable. In North America, we tend to buy into the concept that fitness machines are most safe due to their static nature and fixed paths which remove our need to stabilize during a movement – which would be fine if the body actually worked like that, but it doesn’t! This is why I am so outspoken against ‘youth sized’ strength training machines. To the uneducated eye, they certainly appear more safe and prudent than training with free weights, especially in dynamic movements such as Olympic lifts… but are they? Should kids stay away from dynamic strength training exercises like the Olympic lift?
Dangers of Lifting in Kids Fitness Programs?
If there is not a fully qualified an exceptionally experienced coach involved, than yes – without question. However, can the Olympic lifts actually be beneficial for younger athletes… let’s examine that.
While machine-based strength training for children has been shown clinically to be positive, it does not appear that the clinical evidence supports anything other than the fact that isolated strength has increased. More over, due to their static nature, it can certainly be concluded that machine-based strength training does not positively impact coordination or movement skill – something that is extremely crucial for young athletes.