When is it Safe for Children to Start Resistance Training?

This is the title of an article I read in the Wall Street Journal (written by Heidi Mitchell and published in WSJ May 26, 2019) that gives parents simple guidelines to follow when it comes to their kids and physical activity. I have added excerpts below with good information from the article.

Dr. Benjamin,. who provided the information in this article, is a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Pediatrics

“Under the AAP guidelines, children as young as 7 can embark on a strength-training program, as long as they do all exercises with good form, she says. Though this may sound young, Dr. Benjamin notes that strength training can consist of push-ups, sit-ups, handstands and squats—“all of which a 6-year-old gymnast would think of as a normal part of the sport.” “

Ratcheting It Up, Slowly

“Children under the age of 7 should focus on balance and posture control, Dr. Benjamin says. If they do want to use weights, they should avoid adult-size machines and instead use free weights of 3 pounds or less, with supervision. Those 12 and older can build slowly to heavier weights as long as they are able to complete, with ease, 2 to 3 sets of exercises that include 8 to 10 repetitions during workouts of 20 to 30 minutes. Then they can increase the weight by 10% increments over weeks or months as those weights start to feel easier, she says.”

“Dr. Benjamin discourages young, skeletally immature children from participating in power lifting, body building or single-repetition lifts of very heavy weights. But she thinks it’s great for a 7-year-old to build core strength: “That is the No. 1 way to prevent injury for anyone, and core strengthening could be sit-ups or Pilates and not involve weight-lifting at all.” “

“…adolescent athletes should use strength training to balance out their physiques. “If you run or play soccer and you have knee tendinitis, your strength training should not consist of extra squats every day, as that is putting more stress on your knees,” she says. On the flip side, Dr. Benjamin says that once adolescents do start gaining muscle mass through a healthy form of strength training, they’ll need to stick with their regimen. “