Children of all ages should participate in strength training and exercise on a regular basis. Exercise is a major tool for sports enhancement, general health, or to combat obesity. Parents often think strength training for children is strapping the child to a loaded barbell and requiring them to squat to the ground and to lift the equivalent to their body weight. That is not the case at all. Training consists of body weight, light weights and bands. David Barbieri and Luciana Zaccagni (2013) explain in their research, many exercises are done with the child’s own body weight as resistance. The major exercises performed in strength training are the squat, power clean, and deadlift. These and other lifts are used to strengthen the core of an individual first. Other exercises are also used when a good foundation of strength has been achieved. Many sessions include plyometric jumping and pushing. Correct form is the key to children and lifting. Poor form is the number one cause of injury to adolescent weight trainers. Muscle recruitment is the desirable goal when teaching a child to train. Although it exist in the bodies of children, testosterone does not yet flow freely through the blood of prepubescent children. The goal of those involved with training kids is to get the muscle fibers firing. The muscles of a child are forced to recruit more fibers, thereby increasing strength. The little bit of testosterone in children is recruited as well to force muscle to grow. Starting children on a strength training regimen at a young age, sets the stage metabolically for the rest of their lives. The act of lifting weights in a safe, controlled environment with adequate supervision is a perfect way to affect body composition. Children as young as four and five years old can see the positive effects of a regimen. Beginning the process at a young age enhances motor development. The more the motor skills are developed, the more muscles are able to be recruited for fat burning and muscle building. Thereby changing body composition to a more desired fat content. Children can start strength training as soon as they are able to take and follow directions. One author states three year old athletes are not the norm, but in many cases are seen in the training circles. Technology has made it easy for children to become lazy. Children spend more time in front of the Ipad and other gaming systems than in generations past. Children spend more time sitting than they do engaged in physical activity. Children no longer go find friends outside to play with, they find friends on Facebook to sit and “chat” with. At one time they went to the park to play a game of tag or pick up football. Now they play Halo on a gaming console over the internet with friends. The level of physical activity just does not exist anymore. Parents are at times afraid to let children go out and play these days, for fear of getting snatched or other heinous crime against their little ones. Parents could benefit as well from making time to interact or workout with their kids, Thereby solving the problem of being afraid. Obesity rates among children have grown at an alarming rate over the last few years. One third of all children are overweight or obese. As one author’s research shows, (Williams, 2011) by the year 2030 eighty percent of children today are expected to be overweight adults. Children who participate in strength training are less likely to become obese or overweight. Healthy children should be the goal of parents and educators alike. The message of health must come from parents and people of authority in the lives of children. Overweight and obese children are at times ashamed of their lack of athletic skill and coordination. Strength training is a perfect option for them. Being heavy affects the cardiovascular system. Many obese kids cannot run from the couch to the refrigerator without getting winded. With strength training, these children become the star students. Most of the children have become stronger than their classmates and friends. They have spent a long time carrying around extra weight. This has caused their levels of strength to increase. They are typically able to lift more than others around them. This is a good way to lift the self-esteem of one who at times may be looked down upon by their peers because of the lack of cardio ability. The body composition change can happen rather quickly for obese children. Cells of muscle mass requires more energy to exist than fat cells do. The more muscle that can be built, the higher the metabolism goes. The higher the metabolism, the better the body composition. Overweight children are not the only ones who benefit from strength training. Children who participate on sports teams can also benefit. The child who longs to be a star player among his friends will reap the benefits of training. Sports related injuries are decreased with strength training. Faigenbaum (2010) introduced studies that have shown bone mineral densities to increase from resistance training. Muscle recruitment and improved motor skill development are a few of the rewards of sweat equity. Children who exercise regularly have a higher self-esteem. Schwager (2010) Strength training also helps prepare the adolescent athlete for the rigors of practice and competition. The child who stays engaged in training year round has a huge advantage over a child who comes off of the couch in the spring to play soccer or any other sport. It is not hard to see at any local sports field, the children who are training with resistance and those who are not. Strength training is not only good for sports, body composition and self-esteem. Strength training is good for the overall health of children. Having healthy children should be the goal of all parents and guardians. Strength training is not the only method to achieve health, but can be an important key to a healthy child and a healthy life.
Barbieri, D. and Zaccagni L.(2013) Strength training for children and adolescents: benefits and risks. Collegium Antropologicum. (37) 219-225. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e5h&AN=91755091&site=eds-live Beihoff C. & Mariana P. Strength training for children and adolescents is it beneficial? (2009)Ovidus University Annals (1) 12-14. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=53974732&site=eds-live Brooks, T. and Stodden D.(2012) Essentials of Youth Conditioning and Fitness. Lubbock Texas: Chaplain Publishing, Print Faigenbaum, A. & Myer G.(2010) Pediatric resistance training: benefits, concerns, and program design considerations.” Current Sports Medicine Reports (American College of Sports Medicine), 9(3) May/June 161-168. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=91919675&site=eds-live Ignjatovic, A. Stankovic R. Radovanovic D. Markovic Z. & Cvecka J. Resistance training for youths. Physical Education and Sport. Vol. 7 no. 2 2009 189-196. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=49115623&site=eds-live Nanclerio, F. (2011) Resistance training for overweight youth. Cronos (10) 5-14. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=77413524&site=eds-live Schwager, T. (2010)Strength training for kids, what is the current buzz? American Fitness. September/October 20-22. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=53305268&site=eds-live Viciana J. Mayorga-Vega D. & Cocca A.(2013).Effects of a maintenance resistance training program on muscular strength in school children. Kinesiology, 45(1), 82-91. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=92606085&site=eds-live Williams A. (2011). Childhood obesity: Dooms day countdown. Idea Fitness Journal. 8(10), 48-57. Permalink. http://ezproxy.libraries.wright.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=s3h&AN=67241282&site=eds-live