Now widely understood to be false, the myth that strength training during adolescence can “stunt growth” has stunted the potential of many young athletes. Modern research has shown that, when safely performed, strength training provides many benefits, giving young athletes who strength train a competitive edge over their non-training opponents. The following 3 benefits alone should motivate athletes to get serious about strength training:
1. Reduced Rates of Sports-related Injury
Though staying healthy is not often the first competitive advantage that comes to mind, just one serious injury can put an end to a young athlete’s career. Staying healthy lets athletes continue to practice their sport of choice and develop essential skills. A 2017 review of the effects of resistance training on children and adolescents reported that athletes who incorporated free weights and balance exercises into their training were less likely to suffer sports-related injuries. As free weight exercises mimic many of the movements performed in competition, their use strengthens the stabilizer muscles that help to prevent injury. A well-rounded strength training program prioritizes safety to keep athletes healthy and in the game.
2. Improved Motor Skills and Athletic Performance
Second only to safety, the motor skill and performance benefits of strength training provide another compelling reason for adolescents to adopt a strength training regimen. The National Strength and Conditioning Association states that resistance training exercises such as free weight training, bodyweight exercises, and plyometrics can result in markedly improved motor skills. These motor skills, which include vertical jump and running speed, certainly offer a “leg up” in competition. Though the importance of strength training for athletic performance is dependent on an athlete’s sport of choice, most studies report that a well-designed strength training program helps athletes take their performance to the next level.
3. Self-esteem and Fitness Interest
Both in competition and life as a whole, confidence can make the difference between success and failure. Multiple studies have observed substantial increases in adolescent self-esteem following just six months of strength training. Further, developing the discipline to maintain a specialized fitness regimen in adolescence can have long-lasting benefits for young athletes. Research has also shown that exposing children to resistance training improved young athletes’ perception of physical fitness and exercise habits, instilling positive fitness-related values at a young age. Practicing strength training during adolescence thus has priceless benefits that pay dividends on and off the field.
The Results Are In
The evidence is clear. Research shows that athletes who strength train are safer, stronger, and more successful. What are you willing to do for a competitive edge?
Join us at DX3 to start working with a qualified trainer to take your athlete’s fitness to the next level.