Debunking Common Resistance Training Myths & Leaving the Traditional Youth Fitness Model Behind.

Dear Traditional Youth Fitness,

I’m sorry, but things just aren’t working out. Our athletes can’t continue on like this. For too long, our youth have been training for their sport with their coaches without an effective strength program, leaving them susceptible to overuse injuries and low-quality performance.

And for those few that do break the mould, the resistance program followed could potentially be worse for them than none at all. Although there might be an emphasis on form, when these athletes are training with their peers, guess who is loading up the bar?

Now, I’m not saying this is all your fault TYF… but something has to change. Our children need the guidance of a skilled strength and conditioning specialist working with coaches and parents to instil proper, more beneficial fitness strategies in our youth.

I know breakups are hard, but until you can change into something better for our young athletes… it’s over.

Okay, so there’s really no need to write a Dear John letter to the Traditional Youth Fitness Model, but it is time to leave it in the past. Why? Because it is this model of fitness that has terrified parents into believing the 2 most common misconceptions of resistance training among youth athletes:

  • Stunting Their Child’s Growth
  • Creating More Injuries Than Preventing

In actuality, strength training is critical to proper youth development in sports, especially those between the ages of 6-13. This prepubescent age is the prime time to start developing athletes’ body awareness and control. And with a properly-designed program, these athletes can experience a plethora of benefits {{hyperlink to article #1}}.

Will Resistance Training Stunt My Child’s Growth?

In short, NO! let’s dive deeper into why many parents believe this ‘ole wives tale to begin with. A major concern related to weightlifting movements for young athletes has revolved around the potential damage to the epiphyseal growth plate, a.k.a the cartilage-based section at the end of each bone.

Since children ages 6-13 still have room to grow, their growth plates aren’t fully developed. And although it is true that this structural compound is weaker than the surrounding connective tissue, no growth plate fractures have been documented in athletes who engage in an appropriately prescribed resistance training program {{hyperlink to article #3}}

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Will Resistance Training Injure My Athlete?

The reported cases of injuries that began this misconception took place in a home or involved youth who were unsupervised. These mild injuries ranged from smashed fingers to minor muscle strains.

And while injuries can happen anywhere at any time, resistance training can help mitigate these injuries. When working with younger athletes, it’s important to use weights they can lift six times or more AND with a certified strength coach. As well, teaching the athletes proper technique for each exercise while avoiding maximal loads should be the main focus of the strength program.

For a more in-depth look at how to strength train youths to improve their athletic performance, click here {{hyperlink to article #3}}.