• Dr. Piotr Solowiej PT, DPT

Is Weight Training Dangerous for Kids?


Here's a situation that seems to come up in our facility quite a bit - "I don't know if my kid should be lifting that much" or something along those lines.

For those of you that have not been to Team Sapiens Physical Therapy in the afternoon, we share a large warehouse space with Tactic Sports Performance. The space and equipment gives us a lot of tools and flexibility to work with clients of many ability levels. The afternoon is significant because that's the time when all the junior and high school kids are in house doing their skill based and strength training at Tactic.

Strength training involves weights. Free weights. And heavy weights. Of the top of my head, I know of a 4th grader that routinely deadlifts near 200 lbs!

While that's not appropriate for most kid's his age, this particular athlete has already put in years of dedicated, guided, and systematic work to get to that point.

Guided is the key word there. Is is bad for kids to be lifting weights? That depends on the guidance they receive.

Are You Asking the Wrong Question?

For the parents that may be reading this - if the goal of your child is to get stronger, they need to perform some form of resistance exercise. Plain and simple. It's basic physiology:

(Weights) Overload + Rest + Consistency = (Strength) Adaptation

As ability levels progress, out of necessity so will the amount of weight required to stimulate further adaptation. Justifiably so, as exercises get more complex and the weights involved more significant, there is a level of concern and nervousness that can arise about your child's safety. I get it. But if you're going to be concerned, be concerned about relevant factors.

Worrying about the weights is missing the forest for the trees.

Rather than worry about the weight, the real concern should be about the person instructing those exercises:

  • What's the coaches level of education?

  • How were they taught and to what extent?

  • Did they assess the readiness of your child to perform an exercise?

  • Are they capable of recognizing the requisite coordination and/or mobility to be performing a certain lift?

  • How are exercises modified for different ability levels?

  • Do they know common mistakes made during an exercise?

  • Is the coach capable of educating your child on risk factors?

  • Did they educate your child on the relevant safety measures?

  • Does your child know how to safely bail out of a lift?

  • Was this practiced?

  • Are they using a spotter?

  • Does you child know the proper technique for an exercise?

  • Do they hold their athletes to those standards?

  • Was a proper warm up performed?

  • Does their exercise programming have a technical progression?

  • Is their programming relevant to their goals?

Essentially - does the coach's system mold your child's ability to practice their training in a safe, responsible manner.

If you're asking for performance - then the limits of performance need to be challenged.

In the long run, it's not the weight that can lead to an injury, its the technique and safety measures that have been taught to your child to recognize when to push themselves, times they shouldn't, and to what extent they should to be challenging themselves.

If you are unsure about the education level of your child's coach or trainer - ASK. The answer could be anything from a weekend class to a Master's degree with years of internships, seminars, and hands-on experience under their belt.

Which one of those would you want to be responsible for your child's performance training, but more importantly, long term health and safety?

One of The Best

Just like in any profession, there are two ends of the spectrum - those that go above and beyond and those that give people in a trade a bad name. This is no different in the world of strength and performance training.

Let me assure the parents of Northbrook, Glenview, and greater Northshore area - Casey Tiesman (Owner and Director of Tactic SP) is of the former, and the only strength coach you will ever want for your child.

*Full disclosure - Casey is a friend of mine. But I will without hesitation back his sports performance expertise, and methods of implementation with the kids. Want to know why? In the year that we have been working side by side I know exactly how many kids that have needed physical therapy because of an injury during a training session at Tactic Sports Performance.

That number is a big, fat - 0. Almost 60 weeks now and exactly zero.

Here's why I think Casey and his team have had such a great run keeping their athletes injury free, and why that trend will continue long into the future.

Qualities of a Great Coach

Safety conscious. Educated. Adaptable to nuance. Casey not only possesses these qualities, he demands them of his both coaches and athletes.

Anyone can instruct an exercise. Not everyone can do it at a level that ensures safety in the long run.

Let me assure the reader that at Tactic, Casey and his team instill an attitude of quality in all their athletes. Technique and focus are held in the highest regard, and the athletes are held accountable for any lapses in judgement or safety.

There is no ego lifting or chasing numbers in this gym. Only goals.

No one is put in a situation that they are not ready for.

At Tactic, whether your child is lifting hundreds of pounds or practicing movements with a broom stick - they're doing it because it's at an appropriate level for them.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Piotr

Address: 1942 Raymond Dr, Northbrook, IL

Phone: 630-447-9746

Fax: 630-385-0124

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