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The Importance of Kids Weightlifting: Benefits You Need to Know

Updated: Dec 31

Karen Baltz Gibbs, Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer, Garage Training & Rehab Gym

I am always taken aback when I hear about or see a teenager who is working on

powerlifting or advanced exercises with no foundational strength training done

and they are new to strength training. Why is this important? Why are there 100-level classes, then 200-level, and so on…? 100 are generally intro-level courses. The courses above tend to expand on that information or teach about more specific aspects of it. 100 classes are often prerequisites for 200-level classes, which are then, often, prerequisites for 300-level classes. Yes, some individuals or athletes can start ahead in the process and advance faster than others due to many factors. The main point is that we need

to educate and prevent injuries. Unfortunately, injuries are a part of sports.

Once you have one injury, the number one factor for experiencing another is...the history of a prior injury. A younger athlete can avoid being that patient who has multiple

surgeries before they graduate from high school by learning to lift weights appropriately.

At what age should you start your children in weight training?

According to numerous studies, children can begin lifting weights when they show comprehension, the capacity to fully follow directions, and the ability to do the exercising techniques correctly. This is where a functional screen/evaluation with a Sports Specialist Physical Therapist comes onto the team. Once your child has been evaluated, the Physical Therapist can work with the rest of the team (Parents, coaches, PE teacher, Weight Room Instructor, Personal Trainers, Athletic Trainers, and other Healthcare and fitness professionals).

You need a Team

From my experience working in multiple fields of the Medical and Fitness

industries (along with my experience working at multiple sports events), if you have a provider who does not want to include others, be careful. Your young athlete will do better with a team of professionals working with them and their parents.

Once your young athlete has built up to an intermediate level of strength training,

they can be trained in strength, power, and acceleration. In these areas, the

training volume, intensity, and frequency have to be continually assessed.

Injury Prevention

Working with a Professional is especially important for injury prevention and if they have pain or movement pattern deficits. These issues can be addressed before and when your young athlete is working on strength, power, functional hypertrophy, and hypertrophy (increase size of muscles). Injury prevention and the specifics of each type of training can safely be completed.

Parent Involvement

There is much more involved with training, especially with what is called

Periodization. You have likely seen this with most coaches. They focus on cycles of

training where off-season has an overall focus compared to the progression in

season to peak performance. There are many factors in each individual’s

performance. You as a parent should be involved in this process as well. When I

worked with patients post-concussion, I provided them with a 3-ring binder with

tabs for multiple areas to work on. It would include rest/sleep and each area of

therapy to work on. You might not need a binder but each child needs good

nutrition, adequate rest/breaks, sleep, communication with how they are

handling the changes with exercise including proper recovery, psychological

well-being.....the list goes on. The preseason communication with a coach should be

more than the important topics of Concussions and Behavior. One of my best

coaches, Wes Cook, reminded us to “Be a student of your sport”. Like Coach Cook,

I encourage all my patients/clients to know why they are doing an exercise, and what

is the goal and outcome they are looking for.

Schedule with Karen at Garage Training & Rehab Gym

It can be overwhelming but when you have a team around you or your young

athlete, it will all work out. If you or your family members need strength training, I

have got you covered with my knowledge and experience as a Doctor of Physical

Therapy and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with a degree in

Health & Human Performance/Athletic Training.

Live Inspired,

Karen Baltz Gibbs, PT, DPT, CSCS, CMP, LMT

Garage Training & Rehab Gym

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