Should young athletes weight train?

There are several misconceptions that resistance training or weightlifting is unsafe or inappropriate for children and adolescents. There is now a compelling body of scientific evidence that supports the use of resistance training by children and adolescents for a wide range of performance, health, and injury reducing benefits.

Resistance training can offer unique health benefits to children and adolescents when appropriately prescribed and supervised. Regular participation in a youth resistance training programme can have a favourable influence on musculoskeletal health, body composition, and cardiovascular risk factors. 

Since muscular strength is an essential component of motor skill performance, developing competence and confidence to perform resistance exercise during the growing years may have important long-term implications for health, fitness and sports performance. 

Previous literature highlights that weightlifting is considerably safer for children and adolescents than many have generally believed, providing qualified supervision and instruction are available and progression is based on the technical performance of each lift.

Parents, teachers and coaches, should recognise the potential health-related benefits of resistance exercise, because youths who do not participate in activities that enhance muscle strength and movement skills, may be at increased risk for negative health outcomes later in life. 

As an added benefit, a properly designed resistance training programme can improve and maintain psychological health and wellbeing in youths. 

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