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Strength training for young athletes

Athletes young and old strive toward achieving their personal best. As coaches, parents and trainers, we need to be able to guide them so they can reach their goals without injuring themselves. One way to prevent injuries is having the athlete train to increase strength and flexibility of muscles through a strength training program.

With every young athlete, the question is at what age can a child start strength training?

Despite the old beliefs that strength training was unsafe and ineffective for children, health organizations such as the < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags">

American
College
of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) now "support children’s participation in appropriately designed and competently supervised strength training programs." Experts have found that strength training programs can be safe, effective and may also help prevent certain sports-related injuries among young athletes. Recent findings suggest that strength training during childhood and adolescence may make bones stronger, a benefit which can last a lifetime. As far as what age a child should start such a program, here is a good rule of thumb is if they are old enough to play organized sports they are old enough to strength train.

We have found over the years that most of our young athletes who strength train are less likely to injure themselves, and they tend to perform better. When looking into strength training programs, it may be better to start with a professional. Kids are not “little adults”, the approaches, weights and programs are two totally different things for kids and adults. Find a trainer who has experience working with not only young people, but who has experience strength training with young people. When looking at facilities, look for more barbells, dumbbells and empty space, a room wall to wall with machines is not made for young people. Lastly, get references. Ask what children the trainer has worked with and talk to their parents and coaches about it. Leaving out strength training for young athletes is leaving out a fundamental piece of their athletic development.

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David & Lisa Long are owners of Live Long Fitness in

West
Ocean
City
.

410-213-1078 www.livelongfitness.com