We’ve worked with kids ranging in age from 8 to 18 at Kratos. They are a very rewarding age group to work with! Few activities have as profound of a positive effect on a kid as strength training, especially if they’re not already an athlete. I can tell you first-hand that it was the best thing I ever did for myself while I was in High School, and I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t found it when I was young.
Here’s a rundown of the top four reasons why your kids should be lifting:
- Strength training creates the foundation for all other physical activities.
Running, jumping, landing, and throwing all begin with strength. A stronger body will generate more speed, produce more power for higher jumps and farther throws, and can safely absorb the impact of landings and full-body contact.
The basic barbell exercises are big, general movements that carry over to all other activities. These exercises should be part of any athlete’s foundation upon which they can build their sport-specific skills. The more proficient they are at these simple movements, the broader their base upon which they can build sport specific skills. Think of athletic development as a pyramid: strength along with flexibility serve as the base, and the better the base the higher and more structurally sound the rest of the pyramid will be. Over the past couple decades in the United States, the trend is for kids to specialize very early in one sport, sometimes even before their teenage years. This leads to a neglect of their base which, despite focusing exclusively on one sport, actually diminishes long-term athletic development because they lack that broad physical base.
- Along with contributing to peak performance, strength training will help prevent injuries. A stronger body is a more resilient, injury-proof body especially for young athletes. Many studies have demonstrated that a properly-designed and well instructed strength training program prevents injuries in kids, especially joint injuries. The big, basic barbell exercises not only build muscle — they also build denser bones, stronger tendons, and stronger ligaments.
- Regardless of athletic talent, any kid can excel at strength training. One of the beautiful things about lifting weights is that you get out what you put in — when it comes to strength, no amount of genetically endowed talent beats hard work and consistency. In our youth programs, the kids who make the most progress are not the ones who arrive with the best natural abilities: it’s the ones who always show up, don’t miss workouts, and put in the work when they’re in the gym.
I can speak to that personally. When I was young, I was overweight, out of shape, and anything but a natural athlete. But I was determined to excel at football, and I saw strength as the means to achieve my goals. In four years I went from bottom of the barrel to all-state thanks to focusing on getting stronger.
- It’s an activity you can (and should) do for the rest of your life. There’s already a mountain of evidence, which continues to grow, that demonstrates the incredible long-term health benefits of strength training. Going back to that idea of building a physical base, strength training is one of the best ways to learn how to simply move and work with your body in the proper way. And the stronger muscles, bones, and connective tissues will serve invaluable returns throughout the aging process. Introducing kids to a fun, engaging strength program allows them to make this vitally important activity a life-long habit.
Strength training is the best thing you can do for your body, and it’s never too late to start. And the sooner you start, the better it will serve you in the long run. For kids, strength training will prevent injury, make them better athletes, and develop a healthy body.
Want more information about the Kratos Youth Strength & Conditioning Program? Contact us by clicking here!
If you want to read more about strength training for kids, check out the following papers: