There is an age-old question, “Is Weight Training Safe For Young Athletes”?
In the past, multiple answers have been forwarded, such as.. “it will stunt your growth”. With modern data and research, we have not only seen that this claim is false but now recognize that purposeful training can actively promote bone growth.
Though this is one specific example amongst many potential concerns, the answer to this question directly supports why weight training has undeniable benefits and how it is safe for young athletes.
The answer is YES, weight training will benefit young athletes if they are properly supervised and age-appropriate programming is implemented.
Having an expert to help guide a young athlete in the gym is of the utmost importance. Most young athletes, regardless of age, prefer to see instant results, especially if they are new to training in a gym setting. Introducing a rock-solid program for young athletes will give them a foundation of understanding the importance of form, balance, and stability. Coaches will guide these athletes through purposeful techniques and movement, establishing a realistic understanding of when/how results will be realized – benefitting a young athlete immensely.
Increased mobility is a direct benefit of developing proper lifting mechanics, especially as it pertains to younger athletes. However, providing a young athlete with a gym membership without the added value of proper guidance and coaching would be a poor decision. Even as an adult, it would never be recommended to hit the gym without understanding how to train with proper technique and form.
Young athletes that start lifting weights will begin to navigate through workouts on their own and push themselves through age-appropriate programming. Although, having a professional coach develop and oversee these workouts is the best combination.
A false assumption would be that young athletes in a gym setting have unfettered access to heavy weights and participate in training beyond their capacity. But that just isn’t the case in a high-performance gym with skilled trainers. An important part of how athletes operate in a weight training environment relies on their ability to safely navigate a gym setting. Qualified coaches work with young athletes to develop this understanding.
We encourage young athletes to move into high-profile training techniques (such as Olympic-style lifting) but only when they are ready for them, after developing a fundamental understanding of weight-based training. It is important for young athletes to begin training with weights and start their athletic journey appropriately, relevant to individual capabilities, needs, and sport-specific demands. By developing and perfecting a blueprint for weight training in a high-performance environment, youth athletes will build the foundation needed to overcome many of the physical demands and challenges that may be required of them in the future.
Developing an early understanding of how to train and lift weights appropriately will allow young athletes to have a good grasp on how their body works at an early age, informing them for future training which will benefit them as they move into high school and beyond.