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Is Lifting Weights Good for Kids?

By Kelsey Casselbury ; Updated June 13, 2017

Teaching a child to safely and properly lift weights can start him off on the path to healthy habits. Lifting weights, or strength training, involves frequent repetitions with moderate amounts of weight, as well as resistance and isometric exercises. Improving your child's muscular strength and endurance can help both physical and emotional well-being.

Benefits of Weight Lifting for Children

If your child is involved in sports, strength training can help her increase endurance, protect her muscles and joints from injury, and improve her performance. Even if your child is not involved in sports, weightlifting can help per have strong bones, healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, higher metabolism and improved self-esteem.

The Difference Between Bodybuilding and Strength Training

Strength training is healthy for a child. Bodybuilding and powerlifting, which focus on competition, can be dangerous. The intensity of bodybuilding and powerlifting can strain a child’s muscles, tendons and growth plates, where cartilage has not converted to bone. These activities are even more dangerous when the child does not use proper technique in an attempt to lift heavier weights. If your child begins a strength training routine, explain the difference between his new activity and bodybuilding. Emphasize the aspect of safety and the goal of improving his own muscle strength, rather than beating other weightlifters. Provide supervision to ensure your child adheres to the guidelines.

When Is a Child Old Enough for Weight Lifting?

Lifting weights is safe for kids, provided they are mature enough to follow instructions and use proper technique. Around age 8, many children can grasp the concept of strength training and work it into their active lifestyle. Check with your child’s doctor before beginning a strength program, especially if your child has a known or suspected health problem such as high blood pressure or a heart condition.

Proper Weight-Lifting Technique

To avoid injury, make sure your child knows proper weightlifting technique. You can hire a coach or personal trainer who specializes in strength training for children. The trainer can create a program tailored to your child’s age, size, skills and interest in sports that is also safe and effective. While the child is lifting weights, she should always be supervised by an adult. Watch to make sure she is lifting the weights properly, using the right amount of weight and including a warm-up and cool-down in her program.

Amount of Weight

The amount of weight a child should use depends on his size and strength level. Lifting too much weight is not safe for children because it can cause injury. Help the child select a weight that he can lift with proper technique at least eight to 15 times. If that’s not possible, the weight is too heavy. Sometimes it is more appropriate for the child to do exercises without resistance. When he has learned the correct way to do the exercise, then he can add in free weights or resistance bands. As he gets older and stronger, he can lift more weight. Ask a professional how much weight your child should be lifting.

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