Youth Strength Training: Essential for Every Young Athlete!
We are proud of all of our athletes here at Champions Sports Performance. We have coached thousands of kids to make huge improvements in their strength, speed, and confidence, which will have a life-long positive effect on their athletic success and overall health.
As the top youth sports training performance center in the Lake Norman area and Charlotte, and one of the top facilities in the country, every day our speed school is packed with young athletes working on various movements and strength techniques to help them on the field or court.
Strength Training through Olympic Lifting
One of the most popular and important classes we offer is “strength training”. Our kids love coming into the weight room to learn how to become a more powerful and explosive athlete. The foundation of our program is teaching kids to master the Olympic Lifts.
Top Olympic weightlifters are easily the most explosive athletes on the planet. The movement patterns for this type of weightlifting can be built early in childhood and are directly transferable to any sport.
At the age of twelve, we begin our athletes on light bars to ensure they learn proper technique. Weight is only added to the bar once they have mastered the technique. The neuromuscular pathways built by the athletes in our strength classes prior to puberty are what allow the athletes to add more muscle and thus power post-puberty. Want your kid to play sports in high school? You cannot afford NOT to strength train!
Should Kids Lift Weights?
It is amazing that in 2016 we still get asked – Will resistance training for children stunt their growth or have a negative effect on their development?
The answer is NO! After five years and training thousands of kids, Champions has NEVER had a case where an athlete has been negatively affected by what we’ve done in the weight room. The long term results have always been positive and beneficial to our kids’ success in sports.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association suggests that children and adolescents can significantly increase their strength above and beyond growth and maturation, providing that the resistance training program is of sufficient intensity, volume and duration. They also suggest to start young! Read the NSCA review here.
Timing is EVERYTHING in youth strength training, as the key window for training is far sooner (younger!) than most people think.
Encourage your kids to train at a young age to help develop tremendous relative body strength.
Two of the greatest examples of what can be achieved in the weight room are Ryan and Evan O’Connor. The sons of Champions owner Greg O’Connor, Ryan and Evan are strong and explosive today, because of the training they did prior to puberty.
Ryan was a great athlete form a young age, playing football and basketball at a high level. His prepubescent training allowed him to put on thirty pounds between his freshman and sophomore year of high school, transforming him from a fast and quick player to a fast, quick and powerful player.
During his senior year at Hough High School, Evan became one of the strongest kids in the state at his age, setting 6 North Carolina State powerlifting records. At 195 lbs., Evan squatted 470 lbs., deadlifted 490 lbs., and bench pressed 260 lbs.
Both boys started doing light dumbbell and resistance exercises when they were very young. Safe, light, and fun, just like we do at Champions today. As Bill Parisi himself has said, “When your five-year-old is helping you carry in the groceries, that kid is strength training!”
Now that muscular maturation has set in, the ceiling for Ryan and Evan in the weight room has greatly increased. The strength gained during the prepubescent years can be more neurological by nature (motor pattern development) where the gains during the later adolescent years will be more hypertrophy (lean muscle mass) gains.
Resistance Training for Young Athletes
The concept we ALL need to remember is that if you start too late you may miss the window to develop correct form and neuromuscular development.
Just think about any other skill or sport where you excel—you probably developed those skills at a young age and simply maintained or increased the skills as you matured. Resistance training for athletic success is not any different, and it shouldn’t be optional!
Children as young as 5 and 6 years old have benefitted from a sound youth resistance training program. At Champions we start at 7 years old and the kids love it and see great results, not necessarily in strength, but in posture, mobility and core strength. As long as the variables of the program are age-appropriate and monitored by a trained professional, there is no reason why resistance training should not be a part of every athlete’s training program from a young age.
There is no question it has helped the O’Connor boys tremendously in building a proper strength foundation that paid off in athletics and is now paying off as young adults.
Both boys have far surpassed their peers and continue to train injury free on a daily basis at Champions Sports Performance. The sky is the limit! The video you see is Ryan performing the overhead squat with 275lbs, and that is Evan at the bottom of his 470lb squat. Brooke Murphy and Nick Cassolino, two of our current studs, are not bad either!