Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Perform Better at a Younger Age By Weight Training: Kids Can Start Training by Age 7

Begin weight training at a young age to improve sports performance and overall health. Research shows that kids can do technique-oriented training as early as age 7 in order to improve motor control and neural drive. The benefits include enhanced jumping, running, and throwing ability as well as better postural control.

Two new studies show the benefits of incorporating weight training into physical education classes. An 8-week study of 7 year olds had them do 15 minutes of weight training exercises at the beginning of gym class twice a week. Results showed significant gains in abdominal endurance and jumping ability that were much greater than those seen in a group of students who participated in the gym class but did not weight train. Researchers also tested what would happen to the physical performance gains after an 8-week detraining period. Results showed the following:
•    The kids experienced no detraining or performance decrease in abdominal endurance, whereas they did regress somewhat in the single-leg hop, but not back to baseline. Performance on a long jump test returned to baseline after 8 weeks of detraining.

•    Researchers think that the changes in performance during detraining in youth vary depending on the complexity of the skill and the musculature involved. For instance, endurance in the core is better maintained, whereas power and strength in the lower body requires more regular training stimulus.

•    It is appropriate for youth as young as 6 or 7 to start doing technique training with light loads and low volume. Neuromuscular adaptations will occur and children this young will gain strength.

•    Weight training can easily be included in gym classes to teach kids technique, build coordination, and improve athletic performance. This study shows 30 minutes a week of training will produce considerable results and is a reasonable method of combating obesity.

A second study of older girls in 10th grade also showed significant physical gains from training during a gym class for 6 weeks. Results showed that a muscular endurance program increased abdominal endurance by 23 percent, the number of push-ups that could be done by 27 percent, and jumping ability by 8 percent.

Similar to the study of 7 year olds, this showed that the girls had greater improvements in the core and upper body than in the lower body. This may be due to the training stimulus (both programs were muscular endurance programs rather than strength or power focused), age of the trainees, short duration of the study, or some other unidentified mechanism.

Rest assured that kids can start weight training at a very young age—as early as 6 or 7—and they are highly trainable. Weight training is the best method of preparing kids for sports and helping them avoid injury. It can also help fight obesity and will likely give kids confidence and better coordination. In addition, by starting to train at a young age kids will accumulate training years and be able to progress to heavier load, more challenging training earlier.

No comments: