Earlier this year, Professor Avery Faigenbaum (world leader on youth resistance training) presented a seminar in the UK. Although I was not able to attend I have just read the overview in the latest UKSCA Professional Strength & Conditioning Journal (Issue 28, April 2013) and i thought it was important to share some of these issues to the wider community of coaches, teachers and parents.
The article summarises the importance of muscle strengthening for children, which I believe many people are still afraid of the term muscle strengthening and would not no where to start in developing this vital quality in children. There are some essential reasons for developing strength in children, which include:
- Injury Prevention – If children don’t develop movement and strength competencies before starting in sport, then injuries are likely.
- Physical Inactivity – Today’s lack of physical activity in children (instead grabbing for the TV remote or iPad) leads to obesity. Obesity then leads to diseases such as Type II diabetes. Increasing muscle strength increases motor competence therefore increasing ability to undertake physical activity and increase fitness levels.
How important are educational skills such as reading, readingand numeracy? Well, children learning how to move is just as important and developing muscular strength must be part of this and has been shown to improve running, jumping and throwing performance. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now recommends 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity (including activities to strengthen muscle and bone) daily in children.
The lack of strength and movement is also a problem in many active children, with too much time spent on sport specific skills than general movement and strength capabilities. Far too often have I seen players enter an academy system (at 15-16 years of age) that cannot run, jump or squat correctly. It is essential we get these basic fundamentals in place in children from an early age to reduce injuries, improve sports performance and ultimately improve health of the nation.
The LTAD model suggests a number of steps. Children aged 0-5 should be actively playing – learning how to control there own body weight in playful activities (do we see children on the climbing frame at the local park anymore?). Between the ages of 6-12 years children shown then be learning how to run and jump correctly and performing body weight strength exercises and progressing these to adding light resistance such as medicine balls. Then introducing weight lifting technique is the next step. These are based around 7 types of movements of squat, lunge, push, pull, brace, rotate and hinge recommended by Kelvin Giles of movement dynamics.
Faigenbaum summarises perfectly with a simple formula, muscle strength leads to motor skills leads to physical activity leads to lifetime fitness. If your a coach, teacher or parent it is important you understand this and try and start incorporating these activities into the daily life’s of your children. This is essential for both the overall health and sporting performance of our country in the future .If you want more information or ideas on how you might start to implement this then please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.