The short answer is yes.
All parents want the very best for their children and none of us would intentionally put our children in harm’s way. So it’s understandable why so many parents express concern at the thought of their children doing any form of strength training at school. However, the current compelling body of scientific evidence that supports strength training shows that there is no need for concern.
In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other public health agencies now include strength training as part of their physical activity guidelines for children and adolescents. The British Journal of Sports Medicine and the Australian Institute of Sport also support the view that there are significant benefits to health, fitness and performance (mental and physical) for a younger age group.
How can you introduce your son to weight training?
So if it’s safe and recommended for your child to be doing strength training, how should they get started? Here are some guidelines:
Get quality instruction
Find a coach or trainer who has experience with strength training. The instructor will create a safe and effective strength training program based on your child’s age, size, skills and sports interests. They will also be able to teach correct technique and regulate the level of resistance as your child progresses. Quality instruction will ensure that your son’s strength training is safe and effective.
Keep it light
Strength training does not have to mean weight training. Resistance tubing and body weight exercises, such as push ups, are effective methods of strength training. Whatever the form of resistance or exercise, the child should perform between 12 and 15 repetitions. This will ensure they are not overloading their bodies and risking injury.
Incorporate rest and recovery
Your child should only be strength training two or three times a week and should get one full day of rest between sessions. Allowing the body to rest actually increased the results of the training. Strength training is only one component of an exercise program and, like all training, should be varied to keep it interesting and fun. Incorporating rest and recovery into your child’s routine will ensure a balanced and safe approach to strength training.
Most schools have recognised the benefits of strength training for some time. The positives include improved general health, increased strength, enhanced motor skills and better performance. Many schools have invested in well-designed gyms and qualified instructors to give their students access to the best in safe strength training programs.
If you want your child to have better self-esteem, more physical resilience and mental alertness it might be time to introduce them to a strength training program.
Brian Smith teaches Commerce at The Scots College, and is also the Director of Rugby. Brian has a Masters in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and a Diploma of Education from Griffith University. He has the distinction of playing in the inaugural Rugby World Cup for Australia (1987) and he coached England at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Brian is passionate about helping student athletes fulfil their potential on and off the sports field.