Strength training is typically either a really exciting thing for an athlete and their parents, or a scary thing. Strength training for children can often be taboo: you’ve heard lifting weights can damage a child’s growth plates and they shouldn’t use weights until they are in High School. There is a lot of science that debunks those myths. There isn’t any science to support them. (We’ll get to those links and studies shortly.)
For others, you understand the health and athletic benefits of getting your child stronger in a safe, controlled environment. Strength training can help protect your child from muscle and joint injuries while playing sports. It improves their strength, muscular power, endurance, and overall performance as well.
Now, why should you trust your child to start or continue their strength training routine with Parisi? We have 30 years of experience as a company, and 11 years of experience as a facility with an impeccable track record of keeping athletes healthy and making progress. Here are some of our philosophies:
Earn your weight: athletes don’t progress on their weight until they’ve got proper technique
This is the most important philosophy in our facility and the one most responsible for keeping athletes healthy. All athletes start light. They practice their technique and make sure they are capable of performing a movement safely.
When they’ve displayed great form, they move up. Moving up usually means adding 5lbs to the movement, but higher level athletes could add 10lbs depending on the movement, and our younger athletes can go up as little as 1lb in an exercise.
Controlled, steady progress is essential in keeping your athlete healthy and also making sure they don’t hit a wall in their training too soon. If a high school athlete, for example, adds 5-10lbs every week for 3 months, they will have made significant improvements to their strength.
Our exercise selection always begins with compound, or multi-joint, movements. These movements are: Squat, Deadlift, Bench press, Pull-ups, Overhead press, and Rows. We also include single arm/leg varieties of these movements to ensure balance on both sides of the body.
The reason for this is these movements deliver the best bang-for-your-buck: they can work multiple muscles at the same time. They also have a higher carry-over to sports. You don’t use one muscle at a time in sports, and you (mostly) don’t in the weight room, either. We find that compound movements add muscle to athletes and keep them injury free in an effective way.
An important aspect of youth strength training is to address potential issues before they arise. We know the issues that could pop up: back, knee, and shoulder issues can be common in athletes that train for a prolonged period of time.
That’s why we attack those issues from the start. Injuries are often caused by imbalances and faulty movement patterns. If an athlete is bench pressing, we know we also have to strengthen the rear deltoid in the shoulder, for example. If they are squatting or deadlifting, we know we have to address their hip mobility. And in all cases, we have to create a strong core that can support an athlete long term.
TrainHeroic and tracking
We track everything an athlete does with us during strength class. Our app partner, TrainHeroic, does a great job of storing all of an athlete’s data so we can better make recommendations to the athlete. We’ll know exactly when they should progress and to what weight. We know the total volume and load we’ve placed on them during a workout. We even get feedback from them about the difficulty of the training session. (We’re aiming for slightly above moderate: the goal is not to make them sore or tired, but to make steady progress.)
Teach the athletes how to program in a safe and effective way
Because of TrainHeroic, we can also teach our older athletes how to properly program a workout for themselves. In the app, we help them learn more about proper exercise selection, sets, reps, weights, and more. They fill out the information so that something like “5 sets of 5 reps at 80% of your one rep max” makes sense to them.
When they go off on their own, with their friends or with their team, they’ll have a better understanding of what to do. They’ll understand that they have to balance out their bench pressing with pulling exercises, that they shouldn’t do 5 sets of 10 heavy deadlifts, and that endless bicep curls are mostly a waste of time.
What the research says
We would never put an athlete at risk of injury in our facility. That being said, we strictly follow what the research says about strength training in athletes as young as 7. We implement weights, along with bodyweight exercises, in a professional, well supervised, and properly programmed environment. We don’t leave weight selection or load on the athlete up to chance. Here are the key points from some research studies, along with links where you can read further.
American Academy of Pediatrics
- 1. Positive outcomes of improved strength in youth continue to be acknowledged. These include improvements in health, fitness, rehabilitation of injuries, injury reduction, and physical literacy.
- 2. Resistance training is not limited to lifting weights. It includes a wide array of body weight movements that can be implemented at young ages to improve declining measures of muscular fitness among children and adolescents.
- 3. Scientific research supports a wide acceptance that children and adolescents can gain strength with resistance training with low injury rates if the activities are performed with an emphasis on proper technique and are well supervised.
- It is important to incorporate resistance training into physical education classes and youth sport programs to increase muscular strength, reduce the risk of overuse injuries, and spark an ongoing interest in this type of exercise.
Read the full statement and their research here: https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/145/6/e20201011/76942/Resistance-Training-for-Children-and-Adolescents?autologincheck=redirected?nfToken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000
The National Library of Medicine
“Children can improve strength by 30% to 50% after just 8 to 12 weeks of a well-designed strength training program. Youth need to continue to train at least 2 times per week to maintain strength. The case reports of injuries related to strength training, including epiphyseal plate fractures and lower back injuries, are primarily attributed to the misuse of equipment, inappropriate weight, improper technique, or lack of qualified adult supervision.
Youth—athletes and nonathletes alike—can successfully and safely improve their strength and overall health by participating in a well-supervised program. Trained fitness professionals play an essential role in ensuring proper technique, form, progression of exercises, and safety in this age group.”
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
“Research increasingly indicates that resistance training can offer unique benefits for children and adolescents when appropriately prescribed and supervised. The qualified acceptance of youth resistance training by medical, fitness, and sport organizations is becoming universal.”
As always, if you have any questions about strength training for your athlete, please feel free to email us at [email protected]. We look forward to helping your child become a healthier, stronger, more confident athlete!