So your child is super active, exercises every day, might play a sport or two at a very good level, hates Fornite…….Do they still need to strength train?
The answer is “More than likely, Yes!”
On Friday I posted up an infographic showing the benefits of
starting strength/resistance training with children early on and how it
benefits them physically as adults.
Apart from being more physically capable the other massive benefit from strength training is injury prevention.
Let me throw out two common scenarios that children I train experience.
Competitive Swim/Nipper child.
Will pool swim 3+ sessions/week and have another 3+ ocean swim/board sessions.
At an absolute minimum that will equate to at least 6000 or more cycles each arm will perform.
Swimming and board paddling also use almost exactly the same muscle groups, so those muscles become very strong.
The way our bodies work is that for every group of muscles that are responsible for performing one movement there are another set of muscle responsible for performing the opposite movement.
As you can imagine if you use one group of muscles 6000 times and do almost nothing for the opposite group it is more a question of when, not if, your body is going to let you know something is amiss.
Let’s look at an entirely different athlete.
Court Athlete (Netball, tennis, basketball…)
Now these kids aren’t moving in the same direction or speed for more than a few steps at a time. Plenty of movement variation which is good but with that comes huge deceleration forces on muscles, joints and connective tissue as they stop almost instantly to change direction and sprint in another.
A 15-year study on just 1 injury type, ACL Reconstructions, showed on average a 5% increase every single year. The most alarming part of the study though was that the sub group that the rate of incident is increasing most in was 5-14 year olds.
The study also concluded that “Most such reconstructions could be averted by neuromuscular agility training and other preventive measures”
This brings up an interesting point when putting together “Strength” programs for children.
The term Strength needs to incorporate the ability of a child to both jump and land correctly. To both produce and absorb force with sound joint integrity.
A common concern for parents of children that do a number of
sporting sessions each week is
1) How to fit it in?
2) Not wanting to physically overload them too much.
In response to How to fit it in? The good news is that our kids are like little muscular sponges.
A surprisingly small amount of targeted strength can go a long way to balancing them out.
As little as 2, 20-30min sessions a week will see them through just fine.
As for managing their workload. An important point to remember is that strength training for children should not be exhaustive. I made the point yesterday about how important form and correct movement patterns are for them. As their motor control isn’t the same as an adult, their form will start to deteriorate well before the muscle reaches its failure point. They also don’t need a large amount of volume to get significant improvement. A little goes a long way with kids and that small time investment is well the worth the significant degree to which you can protect them from many injuries.