Is your child interested in getting stronger and faster in their sport? Are they pushing to strength train to build their muscles?
If you are wondering if strength training is necessary for kids in sports, read on to get expert advice from strength and conditioning coach, Kurt Hester. He has trained numerous MLB Draft picks, high school All-Americans, state championship teams and collegiate national track & field finalists. A graduate of Tulane University, Kurt was inducted into the Strength Coach Hall of Fame.
In today’s sports arena there are catastrophic injuries at every level of play and injuries to young athletes are more prevalent than ever. We did not see dislocated shoulders, ACL tears, and low back problems 15 years ago in young athletes as we see today.
There are a few reasons behind this new phenomenon.
- Humans are bigger and faster at every age of play.
- The higher academic standards and funding deficits faced by American schools has caused the physical education department to be cut at a majority of grade levels.
- Too many parents are forcing their children to specialize in one sport, which decreases motor skill development and overall fitness levels.
- With the advent of computer social media and video games, children do not play sports in their neighborhoods like children did 15-20 years ago.
In order to counteract this growing epidemic, plaguing young athletes a strength-training program is highly recommended.
Adolescent and young athletes under 12 years of age should stay away from heavy weight loaded, low rep lifting exercises. Studies have shown that young athletes between the ages of 8-11 years old can withstand the tension of a high rep (10-15) workout on weight machines. These high rep, with light weight load workouts have little chance of damaging growth plates, because there is no need for stabilization muscles to be involved when using a machine.
Injuries occur because of improper technique and too high of a weight load. The machines will eliminate these by remove the range of motion and only allowing the young athlete to activate muscles in the manner they are intended.
Three full body weightlifting sessions per week with one day of rest between each lifting session is recommended. No more than three upper body exercises and three lower body exercises are prescribed for each workout session.
A safe well-constructed routine will generally look like this:
Leg Press 3 sets 10 reps
Leg Curl 3 sets 10 reps
Back Extensions 3 sets 10 reps
Seated Row 3 sets 10 reps
Shoulder Press 3 sets 10 reps
Bench Press 3 sets 10 reps
I feel that adding bodyweight exercises in conjunction with machine exercises is a more beneficial program for a young athlete. Adding bodyweight exercises will help to train and develop body control and begin to improve stabilization muscles needed as you grow and develop as an athlete.
These exercises will help improve these functions in a way machines can’t.
Body Weight Squats
Body Weight Lunges
Pull-ups and Chin-ups
Variations of Push-ups
Low Level Plyometrics
Weight training statistically is far safer for young athletes than traditional sports. Gymnastics, cheerleading, and football incur close to 100 times the danger of injuries that young athletes are exposed to in weight training. The opposite is also true; athletes that weight train incur fewer injuries than athletes that do not have a weight-training program implemented.
Training with an experienced professional strength coach will only enhance the quality of an athlete’s play as well as keeping them from being exposed to serious risk of injury.
Kurt Hester serves as D1’s director of training. TD1 The Dominant One Athlete Challenge is a non-profit organization that focuses on athlete development on and off the field. The program trains and develops athletes in nutrition, steroid-abuse, community service, and physical growth.
The Challenge is 10-weeks with different tasks to be completed along the way testing the athletes knowledge, character, and physical skill with an elimination tournament pitting the top 20 athletes in America against each other for a $50,000 grand prize college scholarship and up to $100,000 in total prizes handed out. Click here to find out more.