Yes. Provided they are ready, it’s safe, and it’s part of a balanced approach to activity.

Strength training can provide the foundation for life-long, injury-free activity participation by helping kids develop muscular health and motor skills, but they have to be ready to do it safely and it ought to be one part of a balanced approach to activity.

Readiness means capable of following directions. Just as for participation in other youth-oriented activity rites-of-passage like soccer and swimming lessons, readiness should always be considered before introducing a child to any activity since a poor experience can result in a sour attitude toward exercise, but it is especially important for strength training given its mandate for strict safety.

Safety considerations include using correct form and never doing 1-rep maximum lifts, or risk serious injury to soft tissue. In general, up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions, 2-3 times per week with rest days in between body parts is deemed a safe approach. Body weight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups also foster muscular development and can be used as a compliment or precursor to strength training.

Due to a lack of hormones, pre-pubescent kids will not develop muscle mass. But this is not the point. Safe strength training contributes to enhancing overall physical capacity including strengthening soft tissue tendons and ligaments. Always consult with a reputable fitness professional if you have questions about safe movement.

A balanced approach to activity means introducing kids to as many different forms as possible to help them develop a deep portfolio. Remember, the deeper their repertoire of activity the stronger their motivation for regular activity across their lifetime. Strength training along with sport practice and other forms of unorganized play such as bike riding, tag/chase games and the use of playground equipment offers the variety of activities optimal toward developing a well-rounded activity portfolio.

So, when they are ready, and with safety THE priority, introduce kids to strength training then practice throwing and catching…go on a bike ride…climb the jungle-gym at the playground…

It’s ok to take your favorite anti-inflammatory first.