Weight training for youngsters is a popular topic within our industry and the myths going around this topic are endless. If I was a parent the question i would want to know is:
‘can my child weight train?’
For those parents out there that have a little superstar in the making for whatever sport they participate in the 2nd question I would want to know is:
‘Will resistance training improve my child’s performance for their given sport?’
For both of the above questions the answer is a resounding YES, and hopefully this blog post will go about explaining why and dispelling all the myths you hear about children and weight training.
So here is the first big myth and question that all you parents are wanting to know:
Does resistance training expose children and adolescences to potential injury?
The funny thing is all the research that has shown increase in strength, endurance and power in children or adolescences came with no increase in injury potential.
So why has this myth developed?
In 1983, the American Academy of paediatrics produced a mission statement that still has has a negative impact on children and resistance training to this day. Much of it was down to injuries to the epiphysis and musculoskeletal system maturity. The epiphysis is the rounded end of a long bone at its joint. Basically because of this they concluded that resistance training shouldn’t be performed until the individual has reached full maturity.
This position statement above is why you would constantly hear the below:
Sorry your child cannot weight train in this gym until they are 16!!!!!
Weight training stunts your child’s growth!!!!
Weight training is unhealthy for your child until they fully mature!!!!
The simple truth is your child can weight train from whatever age you wish. The key is to make sure your child is properly supervised by a qualified professional who understands the body.
Some research has found that in boys aged 13 or below and girls aged 12 or below that there can be a clear increased level of strength and strength-endurance as a result of resistance training. With regards to increased muscle mass that cant be ruled out however a greater degree of hypertrophy (increased muscle mass) is found towards late adolescence potentially due to changes in hormonal and maturation that supports growth.
One thing weight training has been shown to improve among children is the neurological system. If their neural mechanisms improve so will the child’s strength and rate of force development. I have found also that it sets them apart from others when it comes to the weight room when adolescence has finished. This is because their motor patterns have already been grooved during childhood with all the lifts they and their team mates and competitors will be performing.
One thing that always needs to be considered is the maturation of the child. All children develop and grow at different rates therefore making their start point and progression with regards to resistance training slightly different even if they are the same age.
So whats the next set for you and your child?
The next for you would be to find your child a local facility the teaches your child what we called ‘fundametal movement patterns. Teaching them these patterns from an early age enhances their physical literacy and gives the child confidence in movement patterns that they will be mimicking when playing sport.
These movement patterns help enhance fitness and sport specific components such as balance, twisting, turning, walking, running, hopping, jumping. Once these movement skills have been executed to a satisfactory standard they can then be progressed to the next stage.
Below I have included some of the movements i commonly use with children. Some of them mimic and animal so to keep their adherence at a high level we play the animal game with them. The ‘GORILLA’ mimics a deadlift out a squat, the ‘GRASSHOPPER’ is great for hip, thoracic mobility and shoulders stabilisation, the ‘CROCODILE’ is brilliant for abdominal strength, shoulder stabilisation and again hip mobility. The ‘LIZARD’ teaches lateral movement patterns as well as improving hip mobility. ‘CRUSHING THE CAN’ is great for teaching the overhead squat which is great for improving whole body strength across the whole kinetic chain.
The Gorilla and Grasshopper movements
The Crocodile, lizard and Crushing the can exercise
These movements are great for teaching children the fundamentals while also making it fun for them by playing the ‘animal’ game. From here under proper supervision they will be ready to be progressed on to the next stage which may or may not involve some external load.
To summarise research has come a long way on the last 35 years and there is resounding formal and informal research to suggest that performed correctly resistance training is only going to improve your child’s development and sporting performance.
For those that have started your new diets over the last week or so no doubt over this early period you have experienced some sugar cravings throughout these last 10 days as you have dramatically cut down your sugar intake after the festive period. Cravings are not just a battle of will power it is your body telling you that something is going on that urgently needs your attention.
What we find is that if you remove the physiological problem that is causing the problem (gut issues etc) then the craving will go away with little to no mental battle required.
Two of the common causes of sugar cravings are GUT DYSBIOSIS and BLOOD SUGAR DYSREGULATION.
Gut dysbiosis is a disruption or imbalance of gut flora and good bacteria. It alters the pH of our intestines and tissues and increases intestinal permeability and affects every day tasks such as sleep, clouds our judgement on big and small decisions and can decrease our resilience to infection.
There is evidence that microbes within our gut may communicate with the brain VIA the vagus nerve and by producing neurotransmitters. These microbes within your gut say to your brain ‘feed me sugar’ or ‘feed me starch’. These opportunistic microbes favourite food source is sugar and starches so the only way to reduce sugar cravings is to restore healthy gut flora.
Blood sugar Dysregulation or Dysglycemia is a disorder with the metabolism and regulation of blood glucose levels. Unfortunately this condition has become an epidemic in our culture.
Restricting sugar when it has been so abundant in your diet over the past and when sugary products are so rife on the food shelves and when we have very strong signals being sent to the brain from our gut demanding sugar makes ignoring these sugar cravings even harder.
So I thought I would help you so here are some of my tips to help you overcome those sugar cravings and go about restoring healthy gut flora until your body adjusts to your new way of eating:
- If your sweet craving s are particularly for chocolate you should maybe consider supplementing with Magnesium. Specifically you should supplement with magnesium glycinate or magnesium citrate (about 300-500mg per day for a month). You should find that those sugar cravings decrease or even go away completely.
- Supplementing zinc has also been shown to increase leptin levels (supressed during zinc deficiency). Leptin is a hormone which is made by adipose cells that helps to inhibit hunger.
- Make sure you use herbs such as Cinnamon, Tumeric and/or Cumin to help improve insulin sensitivity.
- With regards to improving leptin sensitivity herbs such as black pepper, turmeric and Acetyl-L-carnitine (supplement form)
For any more help for you health and fitness requirements feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org