The purpose of this article is three-fold, 1) to review Mark Sisson’s information regarding growth plates in youth, 2) to give my brief opinion on strength training for young teens, and 3) to give my overall opinion if strength training helps the young athlete be more competitive in their chosen sport. I hope you find this article helpful.
In Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple he writes a good article regarding kids and exercise. He is promoting his own methodology and books of course, but he has some good information regarding youth and growth plates. If you take the time to reach the bottom of the blog post, I think it is interesting to read about what parents of younger children are doing to keep active with their kids and keep their kids active. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/how-should-children-exercise/#axzz1nD3t9w6Z
I can say that the “growth plate concern” is really no concern of mine. Kids and let’s face it most adults, don’t have to do much physical activity these days. Just think back to the time when kids actually had to work hard at their chores, assist in baling hay, clean out stalls, move wheel barrows full of yard waste, etc… It is good for them to do weight bearing exercises from a young age with their own body weight, and as they get older (13+) with dumbbells, barbells or machines. I think strength training exercises give the added benefit of body awareness, body conscienceness, and ultimately confidence.
I have 35 plus years of experience strength training and more than 30 years of coaching and training clients of all ages, some of which are pre-teens and many of them teenagers. So, here is my advice to you as a parent of a young teen and as a strength coach with experience. If you have a swimmer, a basketball player, a football player entering high school athletics they will probabaly very soon be introduced to the high school weight room with the rest of their teammates. They will get at best about 20:1 instruction. I think it is very important that they get some good individual or small group coaching on how to move their body in a safe effective way and to have someone early on critique their form on weight lifting. From the onset, it is important to get into good weight lifting habits. It takes a consistency in coaching to teach specific movement patterns in lifting, whether you are using your own body weight or adding weight with dumbbells or barbells.
Does strength training help the young athlete become more competetive in their chosen sport?
I think it depends on the sport and the age level the child is at in the sport itself. For the very young athlete of 8,9 and 10, the skill set of the sport is more important. At the age the child undergoes puberty, however, strength workouts with at least the child’s body weight provides a benefit. For some sports there may always be more emphasis on the technical skill of the sport itself. Being stronger is a good thing, having physical capacity is a good thing. I think you have to develop the skills first in some sports (like soccer), and then add strength and conditioning to the game a little later. Football,wrestling, and other contact sports may benefit earlier on from strength and conditioning due to the nature of the game.
Contact me 505-3488 if you would like to discuss your teen’s progress in the weight room, or schedule a small group for some personalized coaching. Summer is the perfect time to add weight and strength in preparaton for the fall sport season.
Check out the video(s) of part of a workout with a group of athletes that worked with me over their off-season. This is just a sampling of their workout for that day and not meant to encompass all that they have accomplished with their strength training. I think you will see that we focus on good form and technique and safely mastering strength movements. It is a work in progress.