Why is strength training important for children?

Why is strength training important for children?

We often hear of the 10 elements of fitness:

Cardiovascular endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, coordination, balance and accuracy. These 10 elements are required in order to be truly ‘fit’ and being able to express these elements is also essential to optimal health.

“I wished I’d know that when I was younger”, “I wish I’d been taught this when I was younger”, sound familiar? We’re combining these two points. We are teaching the younger generation all the things we wished we’d had when we were their age in order to give them the tools to have the best health possible.

So why strength?

Well in a nutshell, strength is the element that has the most impact on the other elements (with the exception perhaps of flexibility), and in a world where we want more bang for your buck, it makes sense to target the strength element!

Does this mean a 5 year old should be doing Olympic weight lifting, or that a 15 year old with no training background should be given a 20kg bar and just told to deadlift it? No, definitely not.

Does it mean we should start incorporating a strength element to young children- where it is age (physical and training) appropriate? Absolutely. If we start teaching them good mechanics, with appropriate load (think PVC pipes at the start), high repetition, increasing weight only when form is
perfect time after time- then yes.

Strength training in children has received a bad reputation because we imagine what we as adults do, and transfer that to children. However no one bats an eyelid when we coach rugby, football, cricket, gymnastics, ballet etc at a young age. Strength training done properly is not only safe, it is necessary for optimising health and fitness. (In our gym, even the adults are given appropriate load, scaling options and rep numbers. So in that respect there is no real difference between them and children.)

The other important factor in children is their continual growth. How they move at the age is 3 is vastly different to how they move at the age of 18. Their proportions are different for one, but they have gone through so many changes during that time that some of the movement patterns almost have to be re-learned.

This is where some strength coaches go wrong. They will teach a child a movement, and continue to load it if the movement looks ok (as you would in adults). If the child has a growth spurt what may have looked and felt awesome one week, may look and feel completely different the next. We always have to take that into consideration when dealing with children.

So do we need to incorporate strength training in our children? ABSOLUTELY! Should we leave them to their own thing, or go to a gym where the coaches are trained to deal with adults? Absolutely not. Strength training in children is a specialised field, so find a specialised coach.

For any more information, do not hesitate to contact us at:

Coach Anne-Lise, @thekookycoach