Strength training for youth athletes has never been more popular. Yet in minds of many parents there are still lingering thoughts of concerns, especially regarding safety as well as the benefits verses risks. Their concerns however, often stems from misinformation, myths and outdated science. Here are five reasons why strength training should be an integral part of youth athletics.
1. Promotes Stronger Bones – Weight-bearing exercises, when performed correctly, has proven to increase bone density and strength. It is especially important for females for reducing osteoporosis later in life. So the question you should be asking is – Got Barbells?
2. Promotes Growth – Yes, that is right. Lifting weights will not stunt your growth. In fact, it does quite the opposite. As mentioned previously, weight training increases bone density and strength, and when combined with proper nutrition and ample sleep, this effect is maximized to stimulate bone growth. Just like muscles, the human skeletal system is a living and dynamic mechanism. It has the potential for growth just like our biceps and quadriceps.
3. Increased Speed – The benefits of strength training for the nervous system cannot be overly stated. Much of this takes place at the neuromuscular level. For youth athletes, strength has little to do with muscle fiber size. It is about the connections being bridge between the muscle fibers and the neurons. The more connections that are made, the higher potential for strength. This strength can then be transferred to power, speed and quickness.
4. Increased Coordination – Imagine a herd of sheep going in every which way without any order or direction. For many youth athletes, this is the case of their nervous system. Strength training can then be interrupted as the herd dogs. Guiding the herd purposefully to a single direction in unison. Which was once chaos is replaced with harmony. This is especially important during puberty, when a young athlete is constantly adapting to a body that seems to be changing on a daily basis.
5. Promotes Competition – Objectively, progressions in strength training can easily be measured. Subjectively, these numbers will empower an athlete to reach for a level of achievement. Within the scope of safety, youth athletes should constantly be challenged, either by resistance or complexity of moment. By raising the level of competition in the weight room, we are directly raising the bar for performance both physically and mentally.
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