How much strength training should kids do?
Is your child a keen athlete? Top sports injury rehab specialist Nick Beer explains how much strength training children should do, and how to introduce it into their schedule.
Strength training for children has been shown to increase overall bone strength, decrease fracture risk and sport-related injuries, protect muscles and joints, and increase confidence and self-esteem.
When carrying out a child’s strength programme it’s crucial that it’s taken slowly and correct technique is mastered. Planning should focus on including several fundamental movement patterns (squat; lunge; hip hinge; push; pull), and performed in a controlled and supervised environment under the guidance of an experienced coach.
Gently introduce varying degrees of resistance before progressing to weights. E.g. light weight medicine balls and resistance bands. This will gradually develop strength without too much muscular fatigue. This is important as children gain strength through neural adaptations, so strength training likely improves the number and coordination of activated motor neurons as a result of the body adapting to the different exercises.
Overall, a child’s strength programme should be 2-3 sessions a week on non-consecutive days. Technique, balance and co-ordination drills should be prioritised. Each session should aim to include 6-8 exercises that focus on the different major muscle groups. Initial load should be selected, so that 10-15 reps can be completed with some fatigue, but not to the point of muscular failure.
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