Strength Training for Kids
Baseball and Fast Pitch Softball
This Strength Training for Kids article is excerpted from our new book The Ultimate Hitting Training Guide (click for book details).
Youth weightlifting, if properly designed, is perfectly safe and produces significant results:
“Despite the previously held belief that strength training was unsafe and ineffective for children, health organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) now “support children’s participation in appropriately designed and competently supervised strength training programs.” (John, 2018)
“As far as what age a child should start such a program, here is a good rule of thumb: If 7- or 8-year-olds are ready for participation in organized sports or activities such as little league or gymnastics, then they are ready for some type of strength training program. For children starting out in weight training, lifetime fitness and proper exercise techniques should be emphasized. Adults designing training programs should provide a stimulating environment that helps children develop a healthier lifestyle.” (John, 2018)
“For youth athletes under the biological age range of 13-14, special care should be taken to address their recovery cycles and closely supervise their novice training protocols; a linear progression model works best, but weight should be added sparingly and much slower than in athletes who have begun to enter puberty.” (Strength Training for Youth Athletes, 2009)
Here are guidelines for youth strength training programs:
- Give children realistic expectations.
- Teach them positive lifestyle habits.
- Supervise technique closely.
- Get proper instruction.
- Allow gradual increases in volume and intensity, usually 1-2 pound increments.
- Systematically vary their strength training program for diversity.
- Encourage participation in a variety of sports and activities.
The three keys to youth athletic development:
- It has to be fun.
- It has to be safe.
- It has to improve athletic performance.
What Are the Benefits of Strength Training?
“Strength training can help kids and teens build strong muscles. With a well-designed and supervised program, they can:
- improve overall fitness and sports performance
- increase lean body mass (more muscle, less fat)
- burn more calories
- make bones stronger
- improve mental health
- Kids as young as 7 or 8 years old can safely do strength training if they have good balance and control of their body, follow instructions, and can do the exercises with good form.
- A child’s strength-training program shouldn’t be a scaled-down version of an adult’s weight training regimen. Kids who strength train should learn proper technique and know how to use the equipment safely.
- Trainers who work at schools, gyms, and in weight rooms know about strength training. But look for someone who is a certified strength-training expert and who has experience working with kids and teens.”(Gavin, 2018)
Strength Training Program Guidelines for Kids
“Here are some guidelines when considering youth strength-training programs:
- An instructor-to-child ratio of no more than 1 to 10.
- The instructor should have an approved strength-training certification and experience with kids and strength training.
- Warm-up with at least 5–10 minutes of aerobic activity and dynamic stretching. Cool down with less intense activity and static stretching.
- Begin with one set of 8–15 repetitions of 6–8 exercises that focus on the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body and core.
- Kids can start with body weight exercises (such as sit-ups and push-ups) and work on technique without using weights. When proper technique is mastered, a relatively light weight can be used with a high number of repetitions (8–15). Increase the weight, number of sets, or types of exercises as strength improves.
- For best results, do strength exercises for at least 20–30 minutes 2 or 3 days per week. Take at least a day off between sessions.” (Gavin, 2018)
Other Strength and Conditioning Articles You May Find Helpful
Building Rome Series Books: Building the High-Level Swing Series
In the Building Rome Series of books, the construction of skills are in functional order, providing a “roadmap” to becoming a great hitter.
All baseball and fastpitch softball players can “climb the Roman Coliseum steps” to become a powerful and productive hitter.
Enjoy the quest!