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YOUNG WEIGHTLIFTERS - Contributed by Eric Midkiff

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7 okt 2002
YOUNG WEIGHTLIFTERS - Contributed by Eric Midkiff

Q: How old must a child be to begin weight training?

A: There is no set age. When a child is old enough to demonstrate an interest and follow the simple instructions required to engage in progressive resistance training, the child may begin lifting. According to Kraemer and Fleck, a child may be introduced to basic exercises with little or no weight, at seven years of age, assuming both resistance and volume are low.

7.2 Q: I have heard that weightlifting will stunt the growth of children, is this true?

A: No. People often refer to the premature closure of the epiphyseal plates, which is generally seen only in children who suffer an injury at the epiphyseal plate before they finish the growth process. However, these injuries are extremely rare, and occur even more rarely in weight training children. And while exercise has no effect on the lengthening of bones, it can increase bone density, which increases the strength of the bones and reduces the risk of injury.

7.3 Q: Will weight training actually benefit my child?

A: Yes. Even prepubescent children can make significant strength gains by following a progressive resistance program.

7.4 Q: I do not want my child to get too big and muscular. How do I avoid this?

A: A child does not produce enough of the hormones necessary for muscle growth to "get big." While a child engaging progressive resistance exercise will certainly get stronger, most of the strength increases are due to neurological factors.

7.5 Q: I have a daughter who wants to begin lifting weights, but will she wind up looking like a man?

A: No. Most women do not have the capability to build anywhere near the amount of muscle a man can, and this is even more the case in young women. The masculinization that can occur in some female athletes is secondary to the use of AAS, which any child should avoid, regardless of coïtus.

7.6 Q: Will my child get hurt lifting?

A: Not likely, but the risk of injury is present in any physical activity.

7.7 Q: What sort of guidelines should I follow when designing a progressive resistance program for my child?

A: In 1985, a workshop consisting of eight different professional organizations (the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers Association, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the Society of Pediatric Orthopaedics, and the U. S. Olympic Committee established specific guidelines regarding weight training for the young athlete:

7.8 Equipment
1. Strength training equipment should be of appropriate design to accommodate the size and degree of maturity of the prepubescent.
2. It should be cost effective.
3. It should be safe, free of defects, and inspected frequently.
4. It should be located in an uncrowded area free of obstructions with adequate lighting and ventilation.

7.9 Program Consideration
1. A preparticipation physical exam is mandatory.
2. The child must have the emotional maturity to accept coaching and instruction.
3. There must be adequate supervision by coaches who are knowledgeable about strength training and the special problems of prepubescents.
4. Strength training should be part of an overall comprehensive program designed to increase motor skills and level of fitness.
5. Strength training should be preceded by a warm-up period and followed by a cool-down.
6. Emphasis should be placed on dynamic concentric contractions.
7. All exercises should be carried through a full range of motion.
8. Competition is prohibited.
9. No maximum lift should ever be attempted.

7.10 Prescribed Program
1. Training is recommended two or three times a week for 20- to 30-minute periods.
2. No resistance should be applied until proper form is demonstrated. Six to fifteen repetitions equal one set; one to three sets per exercises should be done.
3. Weight resistance is increased in 1- to 3-lb. increments after the prepubescent does 15 repetitions in good form.

1 Kraemer, W. J., & Fleck, S. J. (1993). Strength Training for Young Athletes. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
2 Larson, R. L., & McMahan, R. O. (1966). The Epiphyses and the Childhood Athlete. Journal of the American Medical Association, 196, 607-612.
3 Weltman, A., Janney, C., Rians, C. B., Strand, K., Berg, B., Tippitt, S., Wise, J., Cahill, B. R., & Katch, F. I. (1986). The effects of hydraulic resistance strength training in pre-pubertal males. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 18, 629-638.
4 Strength training in children and adolescents. Webb, D. R.,Pediatr Clin North Am, 37(5):1187-210 1990 Oct.
5 Pfeiffer, R. D., & Francis, R. S.. (1986). Effects of strength training of prepubescent, pubescent, and post pubescent males. Physician and Sports Medicine, 14(9), 134-143.
6 Neuromuscular adaptations following prepubescent strength training. Ozmun, J. C., Mikesky, A. E., Surburg, P. R., Med Sci Sports Exerc, 26(4):510-4 1994 Apr.
7 Clapp, A. J., Murray, T. D., Walker, J. L., Rainey, D. L., Squires, W. G., & Jackson, A. S. (1995). The effect of six weeks of resistance training on isometric and isotonic strength in adolescents. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27(5), Supplement abstract 118.
8 Weight-training injuries in adolescents. Risser, W. L., Risser, J. M., Preston, D. Am J Dis Child, 144(9):1015-7 1990 Sep.
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