Strength training has long been a topic of debate when it comes to youth athletes. When to start? How much? What kind of exercises? Despite this, the most recent research suggests that age appropriate strength training can be extremely beneficial for youth athletes. In addition, the benefits of starting strength training at a young age appear to have long term implications for an individuals’ health, fitness and sporting performance.
Youth Strength Training and Health
Regular exercise and resistance training is known to have multiple benefits for adults. Research suggests that it is no different for adolescents and they may well benefit to a greater extent. Benefits include but are not limited to
- Cardiovascular health
- Reduction in body fat
- Body composition and weight control
- Bone strength
- Mental health and wellbeing
Regular exercise and resistance training (often in the form of circuits and “play”), can ensure an adolescent moves into adulthood with a lowered risk of multiple health markers.
When and What Should They Do?
There is no official age at which you can start implementing strength training with children. However, there are differences for how you will approach training different athletes. It is important to note that chronological age is not the only “age” to consider. Maturation is an important factor. If you want to dive deeper into the worm hole that is maturation and maturation rates, take a look at this article from Science for Sport.
In terms of the “what” that depends on the individual. The most important factor, in my opinion, in to develop physical literacy. By this I mean as broader range as possible of movements and skills. Mastering the basics will lead to grater progression further down the line. It is essential to install a technique over intensity mindset. In addition to this, I believe youth athletes should be encouraged to explore their own movement. Allow them to discover movement patterns and develop a greater understanding of their own body in space. If you want to put a term on it you can call it motor skill development, or neuromuscular development, improving the brain to body connection. It can be quite amazing to watch the progression of an athlete just through a better understanding of a movement and their body.
As a Leading Youth Strength Coach in Berkshire, I truly love to see young athletes discovering new movement. To see them realise the potential within their own bodies is great to be a part. If you want to chat more about youth development, then feel free to in touch with us.