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As we approach the summer months, we want to make sure our children maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. The numbers speak for themselves when we hear that 40% of children are obese. Children may partake in strength training activities, but much should be considered before they do so. Children’s bones are continually growing and developing until their early twenties. Their growth plates of their bones may be damaged or fractured if too much weight is used before the child is mentally and physically mature to handle it.

We have to keep in mind that as we introduce different strength training activities, especially to children, that they are experiencing them for the first time. It is best to underestimate the abilities of children and gradually increase the volume and resistance, as supposed to doing too much and putting them at risk for injury.

First and foremost before introducing the various strength activities, we must be sure that the children can follow directions clearly. As we all know, children are easily distracted and have short attention spans. We must keep them engaged and make the activities fun.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, children as young as six years old can benefit from resistance training. They may engage in strength activities such as medicine ball throws, free weight lifting, and body weight training, such as body weight squats, pushups, jumps and bounds, and relay shuttle runs. Children like to compete among their peers, so doing these activities in teams can enhance their experience and prevent any boredom. Strength training should not be performed more than twice a week. You may wonder how many sets and reps should children perform? Ideally, children should not perform more than 2 sets of 12 reps of a given strength training exercise.

It is recommended by the NSCA that all children work with a certified strength professional so they are able to seek full benefit and prevent most injuries. When strength training properly, children will gain many benefits. These include an increase in motor skill, increase in sports performance, decrease in fat, and a decrease in their risk of injury by keeping their growing bones strong.

Always make sure children stay plenty hydrated by drinking fluids every 10-15 minutes per hour of activity. Give them plenty of water breaks, especially during the summer months. Encourage your children so they become the best they can be and keep exercise in their lives so they continue for years to come!

Written by: Christopher Hynson

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