Everything you need to know about strength training for children
Unless you’re familiar with strength training, you might still believe that its reserved for bodybuilders and gym goers only. But before you jump to conclusions, we’re here to explain how strength training is incredibly beneficial for children.
For children, The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends between two to three strength training session per week on non-consecutive days, under the supervision of a responsible adult. In the UK, the NHS guidelines state that on three days a week children aged 5-18 should perform bodyweight exercises to develop strong bones and muscles.
Benefits of strength training for kids
Following an age appropriate strength training plan can help children to increase body awareness, muscle strength, motor skills, bone strength and self-confidence, as well as decreasing the risk of injuries – and these are only a handful of the benefits.
Children are naturally more flexible and mobile which gives them a greater range of motion when they are moving. For example, most children can comfortably sit in a squat position and many will adopt this as their natural seated position. An optimal strength training programme makes daily functional movements easier to do, like bending down to pick something up, jumping over a puddle or carrying a heavy object.
Strength training, along with the mastering the fundamental movement skills, prepares children to participate in sport and physical activity. Children who perform regular strength exercises can sprint faster, jump higher and excel when playing sport which will make them better athletes and increase their confidence when playing sport.
What age should children start strength training?
In all honestly, there is no definitive age for a child to start strength training. However, if a child is participating in sporting activities then they are ready to perform some sort of strength exercises. The most important thing is that children can listen to instructions and follow directions. It’s crucial that children perform these activities safely and they are age appropriate normally starting with bodyweight exercises.
Children should practise bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, press ups, calve raises, and triceps dips before moving to dynamic bodyweight exercises which include jumping jacks, jump squats, mountain climbers etc..
When practising these movements, the emphasis should be on developing optimal technique and form. Many adults are too concerned on volume rather than form which jeopardises the effectiveness of the exercises. By focusing on technique, rather than volume, children can develop a strong foundation of strength that they can develop on over time.
Finding a strength programme for your child
Identify a coach or trainer who has worked within the education sector and understands early years and childhood physical development. This ensures that they are qualified to teach your child and they will be in safe hands.
Alternatively, you could speak to your child’s school and discuss the possibility of adding strength training into their regular PE practise. At Amaven we create personalised PE programmes for children aged 5-11 which include a variety of strength exercise, that also integrate the skills agility, balance and coordination. You can find more information about our PE programmes by clicking here.
Children learn by modelling adults; if you follow a strength programme yourself you should speak to your child about it and show them what you do. Positive attitudes towards it will motivate them to join in and become excited about strength training and to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
There you have it, everything you need to know about strength training for children. Sign up for the Amaven mailing list for more expert articles about fitness.