6 Myths About Teens and Strength Training Shattered

The subject of kids doing strength training can get some people quite heated. You may come across people who tell you that kids shouldn’t do any strength training because it will make them muscle-bound, slow them down, or even harm their hearts. Yet, you may have also heard just the opposite from other people. This can be very confusing for parents and for young people. In this article, we take a look at 5 common myths to help you separate fact from fiction.

Some people think that young people who exercise with weights will somehow turn into a mini Hulk. This will not happen. It is very hard for anyone to build muscle. But it is even harder for young people. That is because they do not have as much testosterone in their bodies as older people. Testosterone is a hormone made by the body. It helps boys grow into men and is the main hormone for strength and muscle gains.

Rather than giving them huge muscles, strength training will make young people stronger - both in their muscles and their bones. It will also help them to control their weight and build a high level of self-esteem and discipline.

It has been said that strength training will prevent a young person from growing normally. That is simply not true. There is absolutely no evidence that strength training interferes with growth plate development. The belief that strength training can stop a child from growing to their normal height seems to come from some countries where children have been forced to do heavy work from an early age. The reason that these children are shorter than normal, though, is because they are not eating properly, not because they are lifting heavy things.

It is true that an injury to the growth plates of immature bones can stunt growth. But such an injury will only occur if the individual is training incorrectly. This could be by using bad exercise form, or lifting weights that are too heavy. If young people are properly supervised on a professionally structured workout program they should not face these risks.

According to a High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Survey, lifting weights is actually one of the safest sports that young people can do.

A workout teens should try:

Some parents think that it is too dangerous for their kids to do strength training. However, there is no evidence to support this belief. It has actually been shown that adults are more likely to suffer from a strength injury than children. Strength training actually makes young people less likely to suffer injuries because it strengthens their bones and ligaments. It also develops equal strength among opposing muscle groups, such as the thighs and hamstrings. This makes them far less likely to have a sports injury such as a hamstring tear.

So long as it is controlled and supervised, strength training is a very safe activity for young people.

According to recent research, young people can start with resistance training from the age of 8, provided that they have good balance skills. At this age they should begin with bodyweight resistance exercises, such as push ups. From there, they can move on to resistance band training before being introduced to weight training.

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Young people should not perform max weight training. Instead, they should focus on medium resistance with relatively high repetitions.

It is important for parents to take their child along to the doctor to get a physical check-up before they enroll them in a weight training program. The doctor will check that the child does not have any heart or bone problems that will make it unwise for them to start strength training. He can also assess whether the child has the necessary balance skills to begin strength training.

This myth goes back to the 70s and 80s when adult sports coaches believed that strength training would make their athletes muscle bound. The fact that nearly every professional sports team in the world now has a dedicated strength training coach shows how misguided that belief was. For some strange reason, the idea persists with regard to younger athletes.

The truth is the exact opposite; strength training has the potential to make a young athlete stronger, faster, and more agile. It will make them more explosive, too, so they can exert maximum force in minimum time.

Strength training will also improve young people’s neuromuscular activation. In other words the communication loop between the brain and their muscles will become faster, increasing their reaction time.

Despite the myths, the evidence is clear that strength training is good for kids. There is research to confirm that a properly structured and supervised strength training program can:

  • Increase a young person’s bone strength index (BSI)
  • Decrease the risk of fractures and sports-related injuries
  • Enhance self-esteem and resilience

As a parent, though, you need to be sure that your child enrolls in a strength program that is controlled, planned and supervised by a certified fitness professional.

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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.
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