A lot of people ask us at what age can their children begin strength training. What’s too young? Will it impact their growth and development? How do we help our kid get better while keeping their developing muscular and skeletal systems safe?
Here at Crossover Symmetry, it is our opinion that any young athlete can (and probably should) use resistance training. With the proper resistance training program, child athletes will be prepared for the demands of competition, while also preventing sports related injuries and beginning to build lifelong health habits.
Children as young as 7 or 8 years old (typically the age they begin participating in organized sports) can enjoy resistance training for several reasons (ref).
Reduction in Injuries
Participation in a sport does not guarantee that a young athlete is prepared for the demands on their body. Simply being a member of a travel ball team (along with their other activities) does not ensure that a child’s muscular and skeletal systems are being properly conditioned for the movements and skills required for their competitive dreams.
We say that if a child cares if they win or lose, they will push their bodies as hard as they can to achieve the victory. For that reason, a strength and conditioning program should be implemented to ensure that desire is pursued safely.
It’s important to realize that sports injuries related to low fitness levels or muscle imbalances do not discriminate based on age. A well designed resistance training program can help children enhance their motor skills and stability for better movement, which is linked to a reduction in injuries (ref).
Builds Skilled Movers
It’s best to introduce children to strength and resistance training when they’re young. A child’s brain is more receptive to new information, making childhood the best time to learn the fundamental movement skills of strength training.
The younger a child learns how to use and strengthen their muscles, the easier it will be for them to develop that into more complex movements later in life (ref).
Lifelong Love of Fitness
Strength training promotes regular physical activity as an ongoing lifestyle choice into adulthood (ref). Introducing a training program at a young age can inspire a lifelong love of fitness, or at least the discipline to make it a priority.
Regular participation in a training program with proper instruction can provide children with an opportunity to learn exercise techniques, make healthy lifestyle choices, and gain confidence in their physical abilities (ref).
Exposing your children to a structured and supervised strength program at an early age has been shown to have long lasting health benefits. It’s important that the program is well designed and supervised so that the kids learn the right way to move while avoiding injury.
Starting them Young
As you begin to teach your children the fundamentals of training and exercise it’s important to remember that practice makes perfect. Take the time to break down the movements with them, giving hints here and there on how to improve their form, and understand that it most likely won’t be perfect (and that’s ok!) Let them use this opportunity to learn what their bodies are capable of. This means you may have to let them struggle at first so they can learn at their own pace without feeling pressured.
The best place to get them started is to include them in your warm-up. Teach them basic body weight movements along with the Crossover Symmetry Activation programs for the Shoulder and Hip & Core. This will help teach your children the structure of a fitness routine, how to implement an effective warm-up, and to value exercise technique over strictly performance. Then begin teaching them new movements as their interest grows. This approach will support a lasting love of fitness, while preventing injuries, and maintaining the health and wellness of their developing systems.