Weight lifting for kids is one of the more controversial areas in fitness. You will find many pediatricians who try to convince parents to keep their children away from weight lifting until they are 13 years old, or older. You can find other pediatricians and sports fitness Doctors who will disagree, and claim it is perfectly fine. What is the truth?
The truth about weight lifting for kids is based upon your definition of weight lifting or training. Children under 13 should not be lifting to attempt to gain muscle mass, or to become massively strong. Younger children are not physically developed to the point where their bodies can withstand the strain of lifting large amounts of weights. Where many adult strength athletes train to failure, handling heavy weights, this would be a recipe for disaster for a young child.
Children can safely work with lighter weights and supervision. The benefits to your children can be great. One of the biggest problems facing children today is obesity, and inactivity. If your child is expressing an interest in lifting weights go ahead and get them started. As the parent, you will need to be present for their workouts, or arrange for them to work with a trainer. You should be the one in control of how much weight they handle. Kids can do great using lighter weights and higher repetitions.
One thing to watch closely with your children as the start lifting weights is their form. They need to be lifting with nearly perfect form to protect their body from injury. You should never allow them to lift to failure. Setup a controlled routine to have them to use weight lifting as a means to improving their health, not as a contest to see how much they can lift.
If you choose to allow your children to lift weights, tie it to other activities. Set a rule they must either participate in other forms of activity or sports if they wish to train with weights. Most researchers agree it is critical children get a variety of activity to help with physical development. By prompting your children to get a wider variety of activity along with their weight lifting you will help them develop a healthier body. They will not develop massive muscles. Your younger children do not have the proper hormones running in their bodies to build larger muscles. They will be able to increase their strength.
If weight lifting for children inherently dangerous? Not at all, if the weight lifting is performed with proper guidance and controls. Weight lifting is a great way to help your child start developing a passion for staying fit, and looking great. As they get a little older and start participating and training for competitive sports they will have an advantage. They will already understand the importance of building strength and working out with a plan. Go ahead and let your children get started lifting and getting fit.