Should Children Lift Weights in the UAE?

Should Children Lift Weights in the UAE?
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It’s a controversial topic but who’s right when it comes to the argument about children’s weight lifting?

There are different views when it comes to children lifting weights in the UAE. Some people say it’s bad while others maintain it helps with development.

Fitness professional and personal trainer in Abu Dhabi Jonny Parr provides his view on this hot topic.

So who’s right when it comes to kids lifting weights?

Exercise and physical activity are important components of any child’s healthy development in the UAE.

But when it comes to training programs in Abu Dhabi, there’s been some controversy as to how early is too early for kids to start weight-lifting.
Having worked with children both as a PE teacher and personal trainer in Abu Dhabi, here’s my take on the matter – but fair warning, I may come across as a tad biased!

He repeatedly highlights that there are no valid reasons to single-out properly administered resistance-training as being potentially dangerous. I’ve often heard people citing exercises such as barbell squats as bad as they tend to comprise of heavy loads that compress the spine. The common belief here is that children won’t be able to get any taller.

This is completely untrue.

An interesting fact to back up this view are activities such as running and jumping which actually impose higher loading and force production on the body than that of squats. In fact, when children jump to win that header during a typical football based PE lesson, they’re actually imposing loads of around six times their body-weight!

A lot of debate has raged over the years in relation to whether children should or shouldn’t lift weights. A common viewpoint is that in doing so, children can potentially inhibit or stunt their physical growth and development.

Regarding the research I’ll start this off with a simple – yet what you might find extraordinary – fact. Whether laboratory or science-based, there is no evidence whatsoever to back up the notion that weights stunt growth or hinder a child’s physical capabilities. Nothing.

Strength-training in Abu Dhabi in actual fact is supported by the National Strength and Conditioning Association which recommends that children can benefit from a properly prescribed and supervised strength-training program.

This is further reinforced by the late and renowned sports scientist Mel Siff who suggests in his celebrated book Supertraining (2003) that carefully controlled progressive resistance training is in actual fact advantageous for children as it improves their muscle and bone strength significantly.

He repeatedly highlights that there are no valid reasons to single-out properly administered resistance-training as being potentially dangerous. I’ve often heard people citing exercises such as barbell squats as bad as they tend to comprise of heavy loads that compress the spine. The common belief here is that children won’t be able to get any taller.

This is completely untrue.

An interesting fact to back up this view are activities such as running and jumping which actually impose higher loading and force production on the body than that of squats. In fact, when children jump to win that header during a typical football based PE lesson, they’re actually imposing loads of around six times their body-weight!

Should kids in the UAE play sport?

Therefore the next question you should probably ask yourself now is this – should children play sport? I think the majority of us can agree on a resounding yes to that hypothetical scenario.

 

Teenager Weight Loss & Exercise In Dubai & Abu Dhabi

 

Recommendations for Children General recommendations set by organizations such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association tend to highlight relative strength (strength to body-weight) as more important than absolute strength (maximum strength efforts).

I agree with this statement as children are at an important learning and developmental stage both physically and mentally, so the focus should be primarily on enhancing technique and developing skills and traits such as coordination, proprioception, and kinesthetic awareness.

What’s more, we want them to progress gradually. One of the main reasons for this is that muscles tend to develop quicker than ligaments and tendons and absolute strength efforts may be too stressful for those new to strength-training.

Children’s weight lifting in the UAE – Key points to consider

  • Relative strength is preferred to absolute strength
  • Choose fundamental and functional exercises in Abu Dhabi which require greater muscle recruitment and coordination such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats, and lunges. The leg press machine just won’t cut it.
  • Progressively add extra resistance (i.e. weights), but only after the child can perform selected exercises with excellent form for around 15-20 reps.
  • Make sessions as fun as possible – kids get bored easily so be sure to make sessions enjoyable and mix it up where possible. Importantly however, stick with the fundamental movements mentioned above.
  • Compound exercises such as the deadlift and the military press are fine to be performed but be aware they are difficult technically. Make sure you start with light loads to begin with until technique is solid and keep this weight to no more than 75%. In other words, pitch exercises so the child can perform 10 reps without breaking form. It goes without saying that for best results you should seek a qualified and experienced personal trainer in Abu Dhabi who has experience with kids exercise and fitness.
  • Smash that fear of weights!

Contact Jonny Parr

Get more useful training, exercise and healthy eating tips from Abu Dhabi fitness coach Jonny Parr.





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June 26, 2018 / by / in

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