Given the decline in physical activity and the increase in obesity among today’s youth, it is necessary to present this population with different training methods to increase their interest in physical activity. Less than one-third of young people are physically active on a regular basis. The obesity rate has almost doubled in children and has risen four times in adolescents over the last 30 years. Although sports and aerobic exercises are great means to solve these problems, they may not be ideal for everyone. Some young people may not have the skills necessary to succeed in sports or may have problems with aerobic exercise due to excessive body weight. This can ultimately contribute to avoiding this type of activity. Weight training – strength or endurance – strength can provide young people with more positive experiences, which can lead to their physical fitness throughout their lives. While aerobic training should always be promoted, training with a load should not be skipped. It can help adolescents achieve the recommended 60 minutes of moderately intense activity for most days.
Safety of youth strength training
The American College of Sports Medicine, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that weight training can be included as part of youth physical activity programs, assuming that appropriate technique and supervision is used. Research suggests that the risk of injury during weight-bearing training may be more related to poor exercise technique and inappropriate use of equipment than with activity alone. Many of the injuries associated with weight training are due to inappropriate technique, lack of adequate supervision, excessive loads and the misuse of exercise equipment. There is very little evidence that properly supervised and planned strength training programs cause an increased risk of injury. Research indicates that the appropriate weight training programs are safer than many sports programs for young people.
A common prevailing opinion about weight-bearing training in adolescents is that it causes excessive stress and potential damage to the growth plates, the joints of moving bones and the cartilages covering the ends of the bones. These areas are more sensitive and susceptible to damage in the younger population when excessive loads are imposed on them; However, no studies have shown that properly prescribed weight training can damage growth plates. There is no evidence that weight training has a negative effect on linear growth. Muscle injuries are common in people practicing weight training; however, the vast majority of these injuries are due to excessive and improperly chosen resistance or inappropriate form of exercise. Properly prescribed training can even reduce the risk of these injuries.
Benefits of strength training programs for young people
It is worth emphasizing that in the first place we should encourage young people to physical activity through “having fun”. However, health benefits have been confirmed when weight training is included in youth physical activity programs. It has been shown that this training improves body composition and improves insulin sensitivity. Some studies also indicate the possibility of lowering blood pressure in hypertensive adolescents and improving the lipid profile. Weight training improves bone development thanks to the compression and stretching forces applied, which increases their strength. Depending on the training program, the improvement of motor skills such as speed and jumping ability has been demonstrated. Properly determined programs can increase resistance to sports injuries. Of all the potential benefits of resistance training, one of the areas that may be the most valuable is the improvement of psychosocial abilities. Not all studies, but some show an improvement in the sense of self-efficacy. This is one of the most important factors predicting success and increasing the chances of potential participation in lifelong exercise programs. Research suggests that the psychosocial benefits developed by resistance training may be similar to those observed in team sports.
Training programs in the field of youth workload are becoming more and more popular in physical education classes, fitness rooms and private training studios. Significant health benefits have been demonstrated through properly designed and supervised youth training programs. For many young people it is an alternative way to participate in physical activity. Some youth populations may find weight training more exciting and enjoyable. The most recognized American organizations (the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics), which set the standards for exercise programs, support the participation of young people in properly designed and supervised stress training programs.
In a world where there are more and more obese children, and a sedentary lifestyle is more and more common, strength training should be welcomed among young people rather than being rejected on the basis of finger-drawn myths.
Good luck and till next time