Having been a coach for over 6 years I've often been asked, or even told, everything you can imagine about Weightlifting and children.
Things like: "It will stunt my child's growth" or "It's bad for their knees", and even "It will make my child's back crooked".
I've always gone into detail about how Weightlifting is safe for children aged 8 - 16, and this is what we are covering in this article.
The Science & Relevant Research
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), lifting weights can be safe for children as long as you stick to these rules:
- Don't start to young, according to the AAP the earliest they can start lifting is seven or eight years old.
- Get a medical check up before any lifting takes place.
- Don't over train the child.
- Make sure you have a qualified coach at all times with the main focus on correct form. The child should be lifting light weights with high reps. Maximal lifting should be avoided.
Yes. Weight training improves strength in teens and pre-teens, but not in the same way it does for an adult human.
Children & teens don't "have" to do Weightlifting, however it can be very beneficial to strengthening muscles and building an all round good physique as well as flexibility.
Competitive Lifting & The Points System
Now, the AAP do not recommend competitive Weightlifting for children. HOWEVER, in their eyes, competitive Weightlifting is about attempting maximal lifts...
BWL (British Weight Lifting) and other national governing bodies of the UK & Ireland all follow a similar structure for schools competitions (up to 13 years old). This is the technique points system.
The main focus is on technique. Technique points are award for the Snatch, the Clean and the Jerk depending on how efficient the lift is and if the correct technique, or form, is used.
This takes the focus away from lifting heavy weights and adheres to what is best for the child of that age - purely focusing on proper form.
It's worth noting that in all cases, before attempting big weights everyone should have proper form, however it is especially important in youth lifting.
- Always ensure you are executing the lift with the correct technique.
- Don't go heavy; be sensible.
- Search out for a qualified and experience coach.
Josh lifting as a youth.
I started lifting at the age of 12, but for the first year or so the main focus was purely technique. I was lifting a mighty 12kg Snatch and 17kg Clean & Jerk!
This gave me a great understanding of the technique to allow myself to add weight, in a safe manner, as I aged and my muscles developed.
We hammer down technique at St Birinus Weightlifting Club. Children are taught as early as 12 and the school (where the club is based) is in full support of the club.
As long as you lift with the correct technique and aren't overloading your body, you'll be fine.
Just use common sense!.
And no, Weightlifting will not "make you short".
If you are concerned about your child lifting, comment below. We will be happy to help!