Safe Strength & Conditioning Training For Young Athletes!

Parents often have many questions about strength and conditioning for their children, which mainly stem around their concerns about whether it is safe for their child to undergo this type of training. Some common questions are:

  1. Is it safe for my child to resistance / strength train?
  2. My child won’t be lifting heavy weights, will they?
  3. I’ve heard resistance training can stunt my child’s growth, is this true?

Here at SST Burlington we like to educate our parents on the misconceptions surrounding strength training for youth and point them in the direction of resources that address their concerns. The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) has recently released a position statement on resistance training for youth. This position states 7 Key elements regarding resistance training for youth:

1. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program is relatively safe for youth.

2. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can enhance the muscular strength and power of youth.

3. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve the cardiovascular risk profile of youth.

  • A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can improve motor skill performance and may contribute to enhanced sports performance of youth.

5. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can increase a young athlete’s resistance to sports related injuries.

6. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help improve the psychosocial well-being of youth.

7. A properly designed and supervised resistance training program can help promote and develop exercise habits during childhood and adolescence.

While the key element in all of the benefits that youth can gain in resistance training are accompanied with a properly designed and supervised resistance training program by a trained professional, the NSCA largely dispels a lot of our parents concerns around resistance training for youth and states a lot of the associated benefits that can come from resistance training.

Programming for youth athletes should be done by a qualified professional, who understands pediatric exercise physiology, and the program needs to be tailored to the individual youth athletes needs, based on an assessment of their movement competencies. Focus should also be on movement and proper lifting technique, where proper and age appropriate progressions are followed.  

If you are still wondering after the NSCA’s position statements (along with 7 other worldwide associations who have published position statements advocating for the benefits and safety of resistance training for youth) if it will stunt your child’s growth, the answer is no, as long as the above criteria are met.

A properly designed and appropriate program will help to build bone density and structure, along with building the neuromuscular system. In development, youth is actually a great time to build bone density and structure, and the fears that resistance training would injure growth plates of youth is not supported by any scientific papers or clinical observations. Furthermore, when discussing injuries, resistance training is a lot safer (in terms of injury rates) than the sports are youth participate in and is a great way to help prevent injuries that occur in sport, by learning movement and gaining strength.

Let’s go over some of our common questions and concerns again:

  1. Is it safe for my child to resistance / strength train?

YES! Provided they are following a supervised, age-appropriate program, designed by a professional with experience training youth.

  • My child won’t be lifting heavy weights, will they?

POSSIBLY! If it is age appropriate for the youth, and they have followed proper progressions and have technically sound form… remember bodyweight is a key form of resistance that all our youth athlete learn how to handle before we add any external resistance. Resistance does also not always mean heavy barbells and weights. Resistance can be medicine balls, pulling sleds, appropriately sized machine weights etc.


  • I’ve heard resistance training can stunt my child’s growth, is this true?
    NO! There is no evidence to support this claim, provided again the program is designed by a professional with understanding of pediatric exercise physiology. This is actually a great time to help our youth build strong bones and get other benefits of resistance training including preventing injuries and improving sport performance.

If you still have concerns regarding resistance training for youth I urge you to checkout and educate yourself by reading the NSCA’s position statement on resistance training for youth or likewise come into our SST Burlington location to talk to one of our qualified coaches you can ease your concerns and talk to you more about the benefits of resistance training for youth.

Click Here to request a complimentary demo session and see how we prepare our young athletes for peak sports performance.

References:

  1. Faigenbaum, A. D., Kraemer, W. J., Blimkie, C. J., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L. J., Nitka, M., & Rowland, T. W. (2009). Youth resistance training: updated position statement paper from the national strength and conditioning association. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23, S60-S79.

Resistance Training & Bone Health; What You Need T Know!!

One of the lesser known benefits of resistance training is the huge benefits it has for bone health. While the best way to set yourself or your child up for success is physical activity throughout the lifespan (especially in the bone growing years), resistance training can also play a tremendous role in strengthening our bones.

Our bones, much like the rest of our body respond to the stresses we place upon it. This is why when we lift heavy loads or resistance train our neuromuscular system responds to this stressor (resistance training) by building stronger musculature and supporting structures. This is the basis of all training, the body adapts to the demands we place upon it, and if we stop progressing the training stimulus, our body does not adapt and we plateau, or don’t further increase our strength.

Bone responds very similarly to resistance training and progressive overload (while the cycle is much longer), studies have shown improvements in bone mineral density (BMD) (a key marker in bone health) in as little as 16 weeks of a resistance training program in elderly adults.

As we know osteoporosis and osteopenia are huge issues that aging individuals experience (especially in post-menopausal women), where the risk of fractures can significantly impact an individual’s activities of daily living. While the best way to combat this is to build strong bones in our youth, a recent meta-analysis has also shown that resistance training in post-menopausal women is effective in increasing BMD in the femoral neck and lumbar spine (Zhao & Xu 2015), two common areas of fracture in elderly women.

While nutrition also plays a key role in setting us up for great bone health, resistance training in youth, but also as we age is extremely important to live a long, healthy and functional life!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to get more information to work with one of our coaches to help you progress your training, maximize your functional abilities, and get SST strong!

Reference:

 Zhao, R., Zhao, M. & Xu, Z. Osteoporos Int (2015) 26: 1605. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-015-3034-0

Female Athletes; No you wont look “Bulky”

We seem to always talk about how women need to look instead of how well they performed; its why I think a lot of women are still scared to lift weights because they don’t want to bulk up. The ideal feminine body is thin and while ‘flab’ is not desired anywhere; toned muscles are desirable in legs as opposed to a ‘bulky’ upper body.  This pressure is unfortunately put into the minds of young female athletes that are already under pressure for many reasons (such as doing well academically, peer pressure to “fit in” and many pressures they put on themselves).

This is a problem because they need to do a specific training program that is designed to train them to be effective in their sport. A lot of people walking into our doors ask for programs for training speed and explosiveness. Often we find that the athlete first needs to work on muscular strength before we can ask their bodies to perform better in those explosive movements required in their sport. The reaction most women give is the looking bulky excuse.

We want our athlete’s attention on what their bodies are capable of doing, what they can accomplish rather than what their bodies look like. Aim to improve the function of overused muscles and joints by stretching and releasing them and strengthening the underused muscles this allows us to balance the different demands placed on an athlete’s body given their particular lifestyle. Not to mention, women (without the assistance of drugs) don’t have the hormone profile to look bulky.

Resistance training is not designed to change the looks of their bodies but to alleviate pain and improve mobility in whatever activity/sport they are interested in. This does not mean that we all will look the same—that is already predetermined by our genetic make-up. A young athlete that sits at a school desk during the day, might also be a competitive soccer player and thus, the bodily requirements for balancing both school life and training need to be considered. Many athletes also need considerable muscle strength and thus, should embrace visible musculature. We all need muscles to have enough strength to support our bones, but the amount of strength in specific muscles can vary greatly depending on each individual’s needs.

Instead of worrying about ‘bulking up,’ we could celebrate the muscles that enable us to do what we want to do. Be proud of the muscles that allow us to perform well in our sports and allow you to function in everyday life without pain and to move smoothly in a variety of situations. Muscles are necessary for poised movement, not for ‘the looks of body.’ They should, thus, be appreciated as important parts of anyone’s beautifully moving body!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to schedule a free demo session to find out how we make our athletes stronger!

Are You Explosive Enough In Your Sport?

One of the most important aspects of training an athlete is plyometrics. It is crucial in making an athlete more explosive. Here is the key piece with Plyo’s with young kids. They are great but an athlete needs to be assessed before to correct all of their deficiencies. If an athlete is not strong it is very hard to make them explosive. It’s a very simple equation, you must be strong before you can be explosives. Here are my three favorite plyometric exercises!

Box Jump:

Everyone does this! It’s a great way to train jumping! Here is my biggest tips with regards to box jumps. The landing is the most important part. The landing needs to be soft and you shouldn’t hear it. If you can hear the landing make the box smaller and land soft. One way to spice up box jumps is too jump out of a seated position! My personal favorite way to take this drill to the nest level is to make the athlete jump on que, that’s the way sport is played; very rarely do you get to pick and choose when you want to react!

Depth Jump:

This is an awesome one for young athletes but also older athletes. This is so important on training not only plyometric strength and isometric strength. This exercise allows you not only to learn how to land which is so important, but it teaches your body how to take a load through the ground which is important. One cool way to do a depth jump is to add a box jump too it. Have a player jump off a box take the load thru the ground, then jump up into the air!

4 Dot Drill:

My personal favorite! This drill is basically 4 dots on a mat, and the athletes will jump in different directions from dot to dot. The best way to do this drill is in short bursts, 5-10 seconds. You can make this drill harder by changing the way the athletes faces during the drill, flipping his hips during the drill. My biggest tip for this drill is to make sure the athletes keeps his or her eyes up. You can make them focus on some sort of visual cue!

Plyo’s are so important to creating an all around great athlete. But like I previously stated, young athletes need to be “strong” before we worry about Plyo’s!

Email Bskinner@sstcanada.com to schedule a free demo session or to ask about out vertical jump program or our strength and conditioning programs.

Q&A with Coach Delroy Rhooms

I really enjoy training soccer teams. Soccer was one of the first team sports we had come to us for training when we started SST Oakville. My staff and I have spent many hours with soccer athletes and have a great understanding of what is required for a soccer athlete to succeed. Our reputation and our results with soccer athletes have spread through the soccer community.

Delroy- thanks for taking your time and speaking with me

1. So Delroy why do have so much success with Soccer teams?
I really enjoy training soccer teams. Soccer was one of the first team sports we had come to us for training when we started SST Oakville. My staff and I have spent many hours with soccer athletes and have a great understanding of what is required for a soccer athlete to succeed. Our reputation and our results with soccer athletes have spread through the soccer community. We have teams from Burlington , Oakville , Mississauga and Brampton come out to train with us. The coaching staff of these teams trust us and understand our facility is “ no nonsense “ training center, as we build our soccer training programs to get their teams prepared for the season. We have worked with many soccer athletes who have gone on to play NCCA , CIS and professionally. We soccer athletes playing at University of Miami , University of Maine, Memphis University , kent State , Eastern Michigan , Louisiana State , Miami – Ohio , Carleton University , University of Western Ontario, Mc Master University to name a few. Today , we have Dianna Matheson from the Canadian Women’s National training in our facility to get herself prepared for the FIVB womens world cup. Here is what Dianna has to say about why she trains at SST Oakville:

“I use SST Oakville when I am a home because it has everything I need to train at the highest level. I go not just for strength training, but to be a stronger, faster, and more complete athlete.”

Thanks,
Diana

2. What are some of the unique coaching points/cues and training methods you use with your volleyball players?
Our volleyball athletes are unique in their needs for success. They work within a confined
9 ‘ x 9 ‘ area, so they need to be quick and very , very explosive athletes. We spend a tremendous amount of time teaching our volleyball athletes how to load their hips and fire their glutes so they are explosive in their attack. We use several lateral and linear movement drills like the “ N” drill and Figure 8 drill to help our athletes move quickly in a low volleyball posture. We do a lot of single leg work , like TRX single pistol squats and single leg opposite side load plyobox heal touches these are tremendous for our middle attackers. We work the trunk with a variety of Medicine ball throws and also land mine rotations to develop power for our outside attackers. Our Setter use a variety of Medicine ball wall drills and well as extended medicine balls pushes from the floor , so they can develop more power to push the sets out to the antennas during play. During the off season we spend a lot of time developing the vertical jump through a variety of power movements focusing on the posterior chain.

3. Can you add some insight into your strength coaching style?
My style of coaching stems from the type of coaches I had growing up as a young athlete to the coaches I had , as I trained while playing the Canadian pro Beach Volleyball Circuit . It was “ no nonsense” work hard , give a 110 percent and leave it all on the field. I have taken this approach with all my athletes and adult clients , I am tough and I expect you to give me everything you have while you are on the training floor. I have had athletes and adults see my car in the parking lot and tell me we know it is going to be a tough day when “ the dark over lord “ is on the training floor. I treat everybody the same, I want the same for everyone of my clients. Results period. I approach every training session with energy that fills up the facility. I want all my clients to have fun , challenge themselves and most of all work hard. For my athletes I treat them like family , my goal is help them all understand from my own experience and the experience of my high level staff what it takes from a training stand point to get to the next level. Mentoring is so, so important to me for my athletes. As I move around the community nothing makes me more happy than to here an athlete shout to me “ hey Coach “ . I absolutely love to train.

4. You have had many girls in many sports on scholarships…is there a key to your success?
I believe you need to understand the female athletes in order to get the best out of them. We have had such success with female athletes who have received scholarships , because we have created an environment at SST Oakville were these ladies feel they are at home . We have seen other facilities focus on “ just the boys” and at SST Oakville we treat everybody the same. The female athletes who come to us like us because we push them , we discuss their goals , we are not afraid to have them try complicated movements and they see the results of their hard work. Communication , Communication , communication is the key ingredient when dealing with high performance athletes. We take the time to explain , critique and most importantly coach and this seems to work really well as our female athletes respond and get tremendous results.