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Ask The Physio: Adolescent Weight Training

January 18, 2013

Weight-Lifting-Exercise-15By Will Thom
Q: My 12 year old son is asking me about starting weight training to get fit for rugby. I’ve been told that’s too early. When is it safe for him to start weight training?

A: This is a really common misconception we hear all the time. The age-old myth that resistance training in pre-adolescent children will stunt your growth I exactly that, a myth!!
There is no evidence to suggest that resistance training will have any ill-effects on your child’s health and it is definitely not age specific. The training itself is really quite safe, where injuries occur is after poor supervision, technique and poor self-control about loading. In fact, evidence shows resistance training in pre-adolescents can have functional strength benefits, especially on the sporting field.
It is important to discuss the goals and expectations of the training with your son. Prior to adolescence, it is very difficult to build significant muscle bulk. Until your son hits puberty and his body starts producing testosterone, he won’t be able to significantly increase the size of his muscles. However, he will be able become stronger and in better shape for rugby as the body will learn to recruit the existing muscles more efficiently!
Learning proper technique is essential and a qualified professional should be present. The most common injuries with resistance training are muscle strains and are usually due to poor technique. If poor technique becomes a habit, more serious injuries can occur.

It is recommended that low resistance is used until good form is second nature. Training should surround slow, controlled movements. Remember resistance training doesn’t need to involve weights. Body weight such as push-ups and simple equipment such as medicine balls can be good options for rugby.

While strength training can be safe and beneficial, it should not replace aerobic activities like on-field sports or running. Overall, if your son wishes to begin resistance training, speak to a professional in health and fitness to working out a suitable, supervised program.

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One Comment
  1. Michael Sainsbury permalink

    Great article – I look forward to your next topic

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