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Should children be able to weight train?

Mark Raynsford says ...

Depending on the age, yes. But I would prescribe bodyweight exercises.

This actually stands for most people - if you cant perform bodyweight exercises with good form, for a decent amount of volume, then why start adding weight and resistance to a movement that you cannot perform under bodyweight? A good circuit of pressups, squats, burpees, dips, lunges and planks will be fine.

Mark Raynsford, Personal Trainer, Marks PT

Claire Wyness says ...

This is a really interesting question and you will probably get a confusing array of answers.

The term weight training tends to be associated with lifting heavy weights for visible muscle growth and competition and is therefore definitely not suitable for children. But strength training, which can improve technique and stamina in sport, strengthen bones and improve posture is great for kids providing it is done properly.

There are all sorts of ways to improve a child’s strength and the obvious ones should not be over- looked. Just getting out there and running around, playing dodgeball, football, tag all act to strengthen a child’s bones and muscles.
However, if he/she wants to get better at a beloved sport then a carefully put-together programme in the gym to improve strength could really help.

In the gym, always ensure that a child is under the supervision of a qualified trainer. Training can cause injuries and gyms are dangerous places.

Resistance, whether it be in the form of tubing, free weights or body resistance should be light and the child should be able to perform at least 6 repetitions with ease. Focus should always be on major muscle groups not small ones ie legs, back, chest and should be performed with full range of motion. If this cannot be done, the weight is too heavy. Remember that a child does not understand the anatomy of muscle movement and may lack coordination needed for some movements. Keep it simple and keep it safe.

Claire Wyness, Personal Trainer

Michael Cowen says ...

Yes but keep it safe.

Children should not use heavy weights, and should avoid weights altogether during growth spurts such as those in the early teenage years. Weight training for children should focus on good techniques as there is a tendency for them to rush ahead using poor form which can lead to injury. In fact many children may be better off doing body weight exercises such as press ups and using medicine balls and Swiss balls which will improve core stability.

Michael Cowen, Personal Trainer, Westwoods Health Club, Edinburgh

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