Sept. 2013
Strength Training for Youth
The general public has concerns about the safety of strength training for its youth. Weight room injuries are mostly a result of clutzy kids dropping weights on their feet and smashing their fingers. The buzz for decades has been epiphyseal (growth plate) damage as a result of strength training. There is no existing scientific data to support this as a reason for youth to obstain from strength training. Properly administered strength training in youth has had no adverse effects with growth, growth plates, or puberty.

Strength training under proper supervision is one of the safest activities for our kids! The key is "proper" supervision, not merely supervision. Supervision goes far beyond horseplay prevention. It honestly takes a qualified instructor to design, administer, and coach our youth in strength training. The weight rooms in our schools could be accidents waiting to happen. Proper supervision means understanding proper rest between sets and between workouts (overtraining),in-season and off-season workouts, excessive loading, poor technique, and even inappropriate exercises!
Of course, strength training is not 100% risk free. Injury risks associated with properly implemented youth strength training are not any higher than the risks of other sports or recreation that our teens and kids participate in. As a matter of fact, the forces on muscles and bones are usually much greater on kids in sports related activities than in the fitness center. How about the way "youth" can go crazy off the field... Biking, skateboarding, inline skating, climbing, jumping, running) can be even more demanding than traditional team sports! (I used to jump off six foot fences and roofs when I was ten!) With the amount of TV, computers, and video games our kids are caught up in, they most likely will need some strength and conditioning just to prepare for a simple PE class, let alone preparation and injury prevention for challenging after school sports! It's all our traditional sports that send our kids to the orthopedists and physical therapy, not the weight room!