When Should Kids Start Resistance Training? Three Myths to Watch For

Resistance training is the technical term for lifting weights and is often associated with elite athletes as that’s how they tend to stay in shape and prepare for each season. Increasing strength develops a mind-body connection that not only develops physical advancements but also mental skills. The nerves that are in your brain need to send a signal to the nerves in your spinal cord in order for your body to perform movements. These messages travel to tell the nerves surrounding your muscles to contract all at once to perform a task (kick a ball, hit a softball, spike a volleyball, push off the platform into the pool, swing a club). 

Though this seems like something your body does on its own, this connection needs to be practiced in order for an athlete’s body to do it efficiently. This is why you may see baseball players performing what looks like simple exercises with resistance bands. They are repeating the seemingly simple movement over and over to both strengthen the muscles used during the movement and train their body to perform the movement quickly and efficiently. 

With fitness influencers on every corner of social media, many people including parents have set new fitness goals to reach. As we know, kids tend to mimic what they see and hear, so kids that see their parents working out may soon start to mimic these actions. Which may bring many parents to wonder- 

When is The Right Time to Start Kids in a Training Program?

Believe it or not, the recommendation is to wait until 14-16 years of age. This allows children to get through their key developmental years so their bones and muscle structure are able to handle the resistance training with less chance of injury. For example, allowing growth plates to fully form is important. If you damage a growth plate while it’s still open, it can stunt growth in that specific area. Growth plates typically close between the ages of 13-17

Though it’s a later age than many expect, we want you to be prepared for when those coaches down the road inevitably suggest a resistance training program. Whether you or your kids are ready to start resistance training, there are

Three misconceptions to be aware of before beginning a program. 

Myth 1- You will get bulky by lifting weights

You hear this misconception often especially in regards to females that want to lift weights but are afraid to get too muscular. Developmentally, it takes a specific frequency of training to get bulky from lifting weights. Training to have large muscles is specific and carefully planned out, it does not just happen because you pick up a pair of weights. 

Weights aren’t just for building muscle, they can be used to improve your strength, and even help train your muscles for cardiovascular fitness. When athletes first begin a resistance training regime, the goal is usually to improve sport-specific movements and muscles. For example, when softball players enter their more competitive years such as high school sports, pitchers work on quite a bit of exercises to strengthen their rotator cuff and  help avoid common rotator cuff injuries. No matter how old you are, if you are just learning how to lift weights, it’s important to master the basic movements and technique with full range of motion before adding more weight to the exercise. This will help prevent injuries in the future.

Myth 2-  The only way to condition for sports is to run.

There are plenty of ways to get conditioned for sport other than running. Running can be tough on the knee joints and the spine for some people. Remember, everyone is different! 

Running is a great way to train for exactly that- running. If you are running a marathon, training your body to sustain that movement for a long period of time is key. However, if you play in a sport such as football that involves more quick explosive movements, you would be better off using sprints or dumbbell circuits to condition. Many sports use a combination of quick movements and sustaining a movement for a long period of time. For example, in soccer, you have to run the entire game but you still need to be able to quickly change direction. In this case working on both long distance cardio and agility could help. 

You can always incorporate cycling, rowing, and elliptical training to diversify your conditioning program and work your muscles in different ways. These options are great for anyone that may be in the recovery process from an injury or those that may have weaker joints.  

Whatever your cardiovascular goals are, we recommend meeting with a certified trainer to create a program targeted for your specific needs as they can vary based on every sport and individual!

Myth 3- You can “spot treat” one area of your body to melt fat away.

There are general areas of your body you can focus on when you are exercising for example, lower body, upper body, back, mid section. However, according to Dr. Nick Fuller at the Charles Perkins Centre Research Program, ”our muscles can’t directly burn specific fat stores when we exercise.” 

The most common type of fat stored in your body is called a triglyceride. These fats can be used for energy while exercising. They get released through the bloodstream, but not from anywhere specific. You can train specific muscle groups for your sport to improve strength and functionality, but you can’t predict where fat loss will occur. 


For kids below 14-16 years old, it’s important to keep letting them explore low impact exercise to train their body and improve athletically. These exercises can include the fun activities kids like to do anyway such as walking, swimming, and playing sports. Joining a youth sports league or signing up for a sport-specific camp or clinic is a great way to keep your young ones active and strong until they are ready to take it to the next level!

Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach Laura Delosier

Written by Laura Delosier

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