Children should participate in daily vigorous physical activity in order to improve cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and strength. Weight training can be part of the fitness program of children aged 10 years and older. When weight training is performed correctly, it does not lead to growth plate injuries or interfere with growth.
The essential components for children to participate in weight strength training are the presence of qualified adult supervision 100% of the time; proper technique; and keeping the training environment safe. Begin each work out with a 10-15 minute warm-up. Start with light weights (as low as one pound weights so that the child can perform at least 10 repetitions. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions, 2-3 times per week and increase the resistance weight by no more than 10%.
A fitness program should address all major muscle groups including the core and should involve exercise through the complete range of motion. Aerobic conditioning should be coupled with resistance training to provide the best general health benefits. Proper nutrition and drinking adequate fluids are vital in maintaining muscle energy stores, performance and recovery.
If proper supervision and training cannot be guaranteed, then weight training should not be part of a child’s exercise program. Any sign of illness or injury from strength training should be evaluated carefully before allowing resumption of the exercise program.