If you thought it was harmful for kids to lift weights, think again.
"That’s a myth that originated in the ’60s and ’70s with power lifting," said Bob Davis.
Fact is, there’s no need for kids to be doing that "one time lift." If proper technique is employed, weight training can be beneficial for children’s physical health as well as their self-esteem.
Davis, former assistant strength and conditioning coach for the University of Nebraska, has operated Strength of America, 1927 N. Gilbert Road, Mesa, (www.strengthamerica.com) since 1989. In June, he opens a second location, this one in Gilbert (5222 E. Baseline Road). Specializing in youth strength and speed development, Davis’ practices are backed by the science community that found, as far back as 1986, that "strength training for prepubescent boys and girls is safe with proper program design, instruction and supervision."
Organizations backing that statement included the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"At about age 10, children start becoming more aware of their bodies," Davis said.
Parental concerns regarding weight training at a young age tend to be twofold. The first concern is injury.
Davis said proper technique is key. Kids performing weight training correctly will not hurt themselves. They also take correct technique into adulthood.
The second concern is the child will get inordinately "big."
"Prepubescent children don’t have the hormones to get that size," Davis said.
With preteens, Davis aims for two weight workouts weekly, each 45 minutes. With teens, he advises three to four weekly workouts with a muscle group focus alternating between upper and lower body. At an initial meeting, Davis assesses a child’s strengths and weaknesses with the goal of designing a program to bring the body into balance. Davis has worked with student athletes as well as obese children. Selfesteem, he said, is an issue with both groups and something that improves with strength and body form.
Girls make up about 25 percent of the youths Davis works with.
Did you know . . .
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ position on strength training supports the implementation of strength and resistance training programs, even for prepubescent children, that are monitored by well-trained adults and take into account the child’s maturation level.