Is Weight Training Safe for Children?

By George Van Zyel, Sprint Coach

Weight Training Safety for Children

Drs. Holly Benjamin and Kimberley Glow wrote an article Strength Training for Children and Adolescents: What can physicians recommend? published in The Physician and Sports Medicine Vol.31-No.9 September 2003. It provides an honest appraisal of the value of strength training for young athletes and the risks associated with various forms of strength training.

Their conclusion was that the “current published literature demonstrates that the benefits of strength training far outweigh the potential risks.” Interestingly, they found that the safest type of strength training involved Olympic Lifting because of the heavy emphasis on proper technique.

Young female children doing overhead weight training safely

As long as the strength training programme is supervised, the answer is a resounding “YES IT IS SAFE” from the following organizations:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
  • British Association of Sports & Exercise Science
  • Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
  • National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • United Kingdom Strength & Conditioning Association

Vito Vesia Jumping Safely With Weights

This is a view of the safety of weight training and particularly weightlifting that is supported by empirical evidence. Brian Hamill conducted a survey involving a number of British schools and published the results in the article Relative Safety of weightlifting and weight training that appeared in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 1994;8(1);53-57. The results appear below:

Summary of Injury Statistics Derived from Survey

Multi-Sport Comparative Injury Rates

 

Sources:

  1. Policy statement: strength training by children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2001;107(6):1470-1472
  2. American College of Sports Medicine’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription. 7th. edition Williams & Wilkins, Phil, Penn.
  3. Strength Training for Children and Adolescents: The Physician and Sportsmedicine: Vol. 31 No. 9 pp.19-26
  4. British Association of Sports and Exercise Science’s position statement on guidelines for resistance exercise in young people. Journal of Sports Science 22: 383-390
  5. Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology position paper: resistance training in children and adolescents, Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metabol. 2008 (33) 547-561
  6. National Strength and Conditioning Association Position Statement on Long-Term Athletic Development. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Vol. 30 No. 6, June 2016 pp.1491-1509.
  7. United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association position statement: Youth resistance training. Prof. Strength Cond. J.: (26) 26-39, 2012.

About the Author:

Speed & Sprint Coach for Jumps, Multi-Event, and Sprints, George is responsible for several National Champions and Olympians in Track & Field. Prior to his retirement, he was also the assistant to the late Charlie Francis at the National Sprint Centre.