It has long been thought that weight training for preteens is potentially harmful to their growth plates due to a lack of testosterone and a variety of safety issues. However, a new study discussed in a blog on today’s New York Times website indicates that weight training for children as young as six years old can increase strength. The study done by Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics in Cologne, Germany analyzed 60 years’ worth of studies of children and weightlifting. The studies covered boys and girls from age 6 to 18. The researchers found that young people of any age who participated in resistance training at least twice a week for a month or more showed greater strength gains than those who worked out only once a week or for shorter periods.
While I am somewhat skeptical about the benefits of preteens using free weights, the New York Times blog goes on to point out that “the ideal weight-training program for many children need not involve weights at all,” and can instead feature push-ups, lunges, hopping and medicine balls.